House of Assembly: Vol23 - MONDAY 8 APRIL 1968
Bill read a First Time.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Pinetown suggested that this Budget was really an unrealistic one, that it was actually swathed in a veil of unreality since it did not make sufficient allowance for the real problem of the day, namely the problem of gold and of international currencies. I want to tell the hon. member that in my Budget speech I referred time and again to gold and the attitude adopted by our Government in this regard. I also want to tell him that after everything I had heard in the course of this debate over the past week and after all the information I have obtained over the past few weeks, I have as yet not found one single reason why I should change my Budget fundamentally in any one respect. But in order to meet the hon. member half-way I want to promise him that I shall not deal very exhaustively to-day with those matters touched upon by members on both sides of the House. The hon. member for Queenstown and other hon. members on this side, as well as my hon. colleagues on my right and on my left, have all replied adequately to many of those matters. To-day I shall confine myself to going into a few of the most important questions and, having done so, hon. members will pardon me if I devote most of my time to the question of gold.
This Budget has been called a status quo or a stand-still or a neutral Budget, but in as far as this is being said of this Budget, I want to say that I do not regard this as a point of criticism, but as a compliment and a commendation, because that is exactly what this Budget was intended to be. If everybody around one is running away from dangers and threats and it is still possible for one to stand still, the fact that one can do so is already an achievement. When we see how the countries of the world move hither and thither and do not know which way to turn, it is a sign of the strength of South Africa that she can decide when to move, if she wants to move, and when to stand still, if she wants to stand still. It was not the intention with this Budget to come forward with any radical, new, spectacular matters. That is what a Minister of Finance often feels tempted to do if he wants to do things for effect and seek popularity, as hon. members opposite are sometimes inclined to do in an irresponsible way. But it is the task of a Minister of Finance, and of any government, to resist the temptation to indulge in the spectacular and in doing things for effect and in seeking popularity, and to approach his affairs soberly and in a responsible way. A status quo Budget does not mean a Budget which leads to nothing. It does not mean a Budget which has a rigid effect on the economy. On the contrary, this Budget must be viewed in the light of last year’s Budget. It is based on last year’s Budget and it is merely taking it further. The status quo in regard to this Budget merely means that we are continuing with the policy we laid down last year already. Those measures we took in the Budget last year, were intended to combat inflation, and the past year has proved that those measures have been successful. This Budget confirms those measures once again and continues them. In other words, the doctor has found that the patient has shown the correct response to his treatment and he is continuing that treatment; he is not stopping it, but continuing it. That means that in spite of the claim that this Budget is a status quo Budget, it still remains a dynamic Budget, since it is the continuation of a dynamic process which started last year and is being continued now.
True to their nature, the Opposition once again came forward this year with a plea for more and more concessions in all sorts of spheres. In spite of the fact that in the Budget I had already granted a large number of concessions, within the framework of the possibilities, they are coming forward like Oliver Twist and are always asking for more. But it is, of course, also the desire of any government and of any Minister of Finance to do as much as possible for the under-privileged, for the poor, for the sick, for the children, for the disabled and for the aged. But Rome was not built in one day only. In future, as financial means and circumstances permit, we shall grant more and more concessions. But we must be on our guard against one thing, and that is that we should not begin to make our people more and more dependent upon the State, that we should not stifle individualism and self-respect amongst our people, and that we should not gradually bring about in South Africa a form of a welfare state, which has already done so much harm to others.
† Now, Mr. Speaker, 'I wish to come to what I shall call the dualism in the minds of the hon. members on the other side of the House. I deliberately say the minds because the Opposition has never learned to make up a mind. It has no mind on any particular subject but always a multiplicity of conflicting minds. On the one hand we find the hon. member for Umbilo—he told me he would not be here to-day—pleading together with others for more and more concessions which mean greater State expenditure, and on the other hand we have hon. members, such as the hon. members for Kensington, Pinetown, Peninsula, and others, asking me to lower rates of taxation and even to abolish some forms of taxation altogether. Of course this plea is not new. We have heard it again and again, but never have the hon. members been able to tell me if I were to accede to their requests to lower tax rates, to decrease taxation, to abolish certain forms of taxation, where am I going to get the funds from to meet the demands of the hon. members opposite? [Interjections.] As I say, a multiplicity of minds, and now we have a multiplicity of voices. [Interjections.]
What about the R180 million?
I will come to that. One fine day the hon. Opposition will succeed in reconciling these opposing views; then that will be the day when we shall be able to take them seriously. The hon. members for Peninsula and for Kensington raised some very interesting points. I listened with keen interest to what they had to say. With some of their views, which I must confess are not entirely new, I have some measure of sympathy. But I have the problem that if I do what they wish me to do, then first of all, where do I get the money from to finance the ordinary State expenditure and to grant the extra concessions which were requested? Secondly, how can I follow their suggestions in circumstances where I think they agree with me that we should do all we can finally to check inflation? Thirdly, I think they will agree with me that I am not in the position to make any radical changes in the tax structure of to-day when I have a commission sitting on the very subject. [Interjections.] We know that laugh. In answer to questions put to me by the hon. member for Pinetown I may say that I have given that commission all the staff they need and I have asked them, if possible, and I think it might be possible, to give us an interim report before the next Budget. I think I must agree wholeheartedly with the hon. member for Parktown that in spite of the requests of the hon. members for Peninsula, Kensington and Pinetown to reduce taxation, it would be a gamble with the future if we were to lower taxation now. Hon. members have referred to various matters in this regard. The hon. member for Pinetown and the hon. member for Green Point and others mentioned the donations tax, the tax bulge and the general rate of taxation. The hon. member for Peninsula and the hon. member for Kensington spoke about estate duty which incidentally supplies the Exchequer with R20 million annually, and about the undistributed profits tax which incidentally only applies to private companies. I think that hon. members will agree with me when I say that it will perhaps be best if we do not enter into a discussion about these forms of taxation now but to leave it over until we are in Committee of Ways and Means.
There is, however, one matter which I cannot allow to pass unchallenged at this stage. I deem it necessary for the sake of the record to correct now a statement made by the hon. member for Peninsula. The hon. member made a good speech, but unfortunately he spoiled some of the good points he made by quoting a wrong example and making erroneous deductions from that example. It seems to me that the hon. member has made an excursion into the distant past. He referred to conditions which existed when the old Death Duties Act of 1922 was still in force. The hon. member ought to know that the Death Duties Act of 1922 was repealed by the Estate Duties Act of 1955. What strengthens me in this view that the hon. member has been delving into the past, is the fact that he quoted a statement made by the late Mr. Havenga, a statement which was made before the repeal of the Death Duties Act of 1922. The case quoted by the hon. member, and which I want to have on record as being quite erroneous, is the case of an estate where a farm valued at R300,000 was left and cash amounting to R2,000; that is an estate of R302,000. The hon. member said that death duty of nearly R90,000 had to be paid on this estate. This cannot be true. Under the existing Act the maximum death duty payable is 25 per cent of the estate and that applies only to that part of the estate which exceeds R100,000. Under the present Act, without allowing for any rebates, the duty payable would have been R65,600 and not R90,000. If, for instance, there had been a surviving spouse and two children, without taking into account any of the new rebates I proposed in this Budget, the death duty would have been R58,450, and not R90.000. I also wish to remind the House that whereas now such an estate would have attracted a death duty of R58,450, in 1948 the very same estate would have attracted a duty of R107,000, almost double the present amount. In this regard I again wish to emphasize what the hon. member for Florida has already mentioned and shown very clearly, firstly that rates of taxation in South Africa are much lower now than they were in 1948 and secondly that they compare very favourably with those in other countries.
Returning to the question of State expenditure, concessions and taxation, I want to say that I was utterly amazed when I heard one of the hon. members on the other side of the House, and I think it was the hon. member for Mooi River, say that I should be prepared to budget for a deficit. Mr. Speaker, would you imagine that an hon. member from the other side of the House should under the circumstances in which we live to-day ask me to budget for a deficit? I wonder what the hon. member for Parktown would say about this. I am not prepared to budget for a deficit. In the first place, this practice would run counter to the honoured tradition of our country. In the second place, for a Minister of Finance to budget for a deficit under inflationary circumstances, would be the height of financial folly and irresponsibility.
What has Ben Schoeman done?
I am speaking about the Minister of Finance. [Interjections.] It is a completely different matter. Here we see again the dichotomy in the minds of the members, in their thinking, their lack of policy and conflicting views. On the one hand, they are asking me for more and more concessions and tasks to be undertaken by the State.
You have done that yourself.
You are asking for still more. On the other hand they are asking for less and less taxation which is decreasing the income of the State. On the one hand we find them asking me to lower rates of taxation; on the other hand we find the hon. member for Parktown very sensibly saying that lowering of taxation would be a gamble with the future.
We just have better ideas.
You or the hon. member for Parktown? On the one hand they claim that they have always given us the correct advice as to how to counter inflation, and now an hon. member says that we have to budget for a deficit.
Coming back now to the matter of budgeting for a deficit or a surplus, I wish to discuss briefly a very interesting point which has been raised by the hon. member for Parktown. The hon. member made mention of an amount of R180 million odd, which he alleges I have secretly tucked away and which embarrassed me to such an extent that I do not know what to do about it. The hon. member reminds me of the methods employed by our youngsters in their modern arithmetic. I honestly admit I do not understand the methods they use in their modern arithmetical procedure for division, addition and subtraction. But still, though completely incomprehensible to me, they do arrive at the same conclusions as I do with my own old-fashioned methods. The same applies to the hon. member for Park-town. I find it very difficult to follow his arithmetic, but still he arrives at more or less the same figure as I do, the so-called secret fund of roughly R180 million.
Are you using a computer?
I never attempted to conceal the existence of this amount. [Interjections.] It was of course not appropriated in the usual sense of the word in that it was voted to be spent in this or that way. But I did mention in my 1967 Budget speech that the surplus on Revenue and Loan Account would be left in the Exchequer Account and sterilized, that is to say, not used. I did say that.
Under the mattress.
Whether it be under the mattress or not, in any case it is in the White Paper. Similarly, in my 1968 speech I mentioned clearly that the Exchequer Account was expected to increase in the year 1967-’68 by some R137 million, of which R88 million was transferred to the Stabilization Account. These facts were clearly mentioned. The money in the Stabilization Account, which amounts to R87.7 million, as you know, cannot be used to finance Government expenditure in this financial year. It may at some time in the future be withdrawn and used when the time arrives, but not now.
In the next election year?
We are not as irresponsible as all that. We cannot even think of these irresponsible things, as the hon. member can. Similarly, it is not the intention to spend this money during the present financial year. The accumulated funds in the Exchequer Account will by the end of the year amount to about R93 million. It is this R93 million and the R87.7 million in the Stabilization Account which constitute the R180.7 million which my hon. friend mentioned.
These funds are all sterilized, and form a useful nest egg for a rainy day. Just as it is wise policy for an individual or for a company to save, to create reserves for the future, so it is wise also for the Government in times of inflation to drain away purchasing power and to create reserves for spending in times of recession when they can be spent with greater advantage for the public as a whole.
This brings me to the question of investment capital—a matter which has also been raised by the hon. member for Kensington. I admit there is a shortage of capital, particularly for investment in fixed interest-bearing securities. For that reason municipalities and corporations are finding it difficult to finance their activities. Similarly, farmers, home seekers and others find it difficult to obtain loans and mortgage funds. Everybody seems to be obsessed to-day with the idea of growth. This is the result of inflation and a fear that the value of money will decrease, a fear which has been intensified by the uncertainties existing in the international monetary sphere. For this reason we can only hope that a solution will soon be found for these problems in the international field and that we shall finally succeed in checking inflation in our own country. When this happens, money will again flow back into fixed interest-bearing securities. In the meantime we shall have to do the best with what we have—we shall have to cut our coat according to our cloth. For us it will be a matter of determining priorities. At different times, different priorities must prevail. From time to time we shall have to decide whether we should give greater priority to housing, or to communications, or to transport facilities, or to power supplies, or soil conservation, or other things.
How will you look on television, Marais?
The question of foreign capital has also been raised here and attention was drawn to the vast inflow of foreign capital in recent times. This capital does not consist of flight capital only, but it is also real investment capital. Although this capital is welcome from certain points of view, it is unwelcome from other points of view, particularly from the point of view of inflation. Since so much foreign capital has been flowing into South Africa in recent times, we are compelled to keep certain measures of control in force for a longer period than would probably have been necessary otherwise—in other words, it is necessary for us as a State and as a nation to bear certain burdens for others to have the right to let money into the country. Of course, this inflow of foreign capital is a clear sign of confidence in South Africa. But it is also clear that the time has come that we should consider anew the role played by foreign capital in South Africa as well as the advisability of allowing such large amounts of foreign capital to enter the country under the present circumstances. In this connection we had many suggestions from that side of the House—inter alia, release of the blocked rand, relaxation of the foreign exchange control regulations and relaxation of import control on capital goods. These methods and others are possibilities that may be applied. Let me make it clear, however, that it is necessary that we should act very judiciously in this connection. This is a matter to which serious attention is being given by the Government. It would, however, be wrong to make hasty decisions under the present circumstances. International financial conditions are particularly fluid and uncertain at the moment. It will be dangerous therefore to lay down a rigid and permanent line of action. The Opposition may rest assured, however, that serious attention is being given to this matter.
In this connection I want to draw attention to an interesting idea which was expressed by the hon. member for Parktown. Of course, he exaggerated a little but there is nevertheless something in it. He said, “We live in fear of our own fortune; we are afraid of prosperity”. He suggests we are afraid when too much capital flows into the country; we are afraid when our exports are too large in volume; we are afraid when we have a large agricultural crop—in short, “we are afraid of our good fortune; we live in fear of prosperity”. I think the hon. member for Parktown has something here, but he has got hold of the wrong end of the stick. We are not afraid of prosperity. On the contrary. This Government has always sought to attain prosperity—as a matter of fact, we have succeeded in attaining prosperity for our people. We are definitely not afraid of prosperity. What we are afraid of, is the danger of inflation which may be bound up with prosperity. We strive to attain prosperity without inflation—otherwise that prosperity is not real prosperity, but sham prosperity. Inflation eventually renders real prosperity impossible. Therefore I say that we are striving to attain prosperity without inflation. We believe it is possible—as a matter of fact we have already accomplished it in the past.
There are many other matters which I should have liked to go into if I had the time. The question of the provinces was raised, amongst others by the hon. members for Witbank, for Paarl and the hon. member for Green Point. I would prefer us to discuss these and other matters when my Vote is discussed. I do not have the time now to go into all these matters.
Before dealing with the question of gold, I want to make an interesting announcement. I said in my Budget speech that we did not want to rely too much on foreign loans under the prevailing circumstances. We know the European capital market is the most important capital market to-day, and it has been our desire for a long time now also to make our début on that market one day. Admittedly, we were able to arrange a number of loans from banks in Europe, but the Government has not yet negotiated a public loan on the European capital market. We would also like to get there, to have our name placed on the list of the big investors of the world, together with other countries and other big companies. During my visit to Europe recently, I conducted negotiations with several European bankers. Owing to the uncertain financial position as a result of the devaluation of sterling, however, we thought it advisable to postpone such a loan until circumstances are more favourable. But on 20th March we concluded an agreement with a consortium of banks consisting of the Deutsche Bank as the leader, the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas in Paris, and the Banca Commercialé Italiana, Milan. Under this agreement a public loan was floated on 2nd April for an amount of 60 million Deutsche mark (approximately R10.7 million) for a period of five years at a rate of interest of 7 per cent and an issue price of 99½ per cent. I am pleased that I am able to inform this House that this loan was very favourably received and was heavily oversubscribed immediately on issue.
At 7 per cent!
I want to ask the hon. member whether he knows what the current rates of interest in Europe are? A loan at 7 per cent at an issue price of 99½ per cent is one of the most favourable loans one can obtain in Europe at the present time. Private individuals showed a great deal of interest. The interest in this over-subscribed loan was so great that the bank took the unusual step of suggesting that we should increase the amount of the loan, but as it was not our object to obtain money but rather to make ourselves known, I decided not to negotiate the increased loan. This great success we have had is proof of the confidence which the European investors have in South Africa and it paves the way for our entry into this important capital market should that be necessary in the future. I want to express my gratitude to-day to the banks which took the lead in floating this loan and to the investors in particular for their confidence in South Africa, and I want to give them the assurance that South Africa will not disappoint them in their trust.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I come to the question of gold, the question about which hon. members recently expressed opinions in this House and about which they put questions to me during the Budget Debate. I should like to congratulate the hon. members on the responsible way in which they put this matter in Parliament. I should like to thank the hon. member for Pinetown, who spoke on behalf of the Opposition, for the well-considered point of view he put on behalf of his Party in the questions he addressed to me, as well as the hon. member for Florida for the words of wisdom spoken by him in this connection. I am glad of the attitude adopted by the hon. members in regard to this matter, because if ever there was a time for judicious and responsible action by the monetary authorities of the world and by us as the biggest producer of gold in the world, it is now, because what is at stake here, is not the welfare of individuals or a few countries, but the interests of the whole world for the present and for future generations. South Africa, as the largest gold producer in the world, is deeply affected by decisions taken in this connection on gold in the past, particularly in the recent past, and by developments in the monetary sphere which may still follow in the future. Although we, South Africa, have not been consulted about these decisions, we are prepared to approach this matter with the highest degree of responsibility and with a will to co-operate, fully aware that our prosperity is closely bound up with the prosperity of the world as a whole. I realize that if the question of gold and of international liquidity is handled wrongly, it may lead to an international disaster in the monetary sphere, and because we, with our open economy, will not be able to escape the consequences of chaos and disorder in the international monetary sphere, it is in our interests as well as in the interests of the world that this question should be tackled in a responsible way in order to find a generally satisfactory solution. I know that there are those who accuse us in South Africa of allegedly being irresponsible, because we never cease to plead for an increase in the official price of gold. But we can state here in all honesty to-day that our pursuit of a higher official gold price does not spring merely from a desire for national gain, but that South Africa is sincerely convinced that an increased official gold price will also be in the interests of the world. It is a pity that political considerations are apparently also beginning to play a role in this purely monetary, financial matter. At present there are international political considerations, partly because South Africa and partly because Russia are the biggest gold-producing countries. But internal political considerations, too, are already playing a role in some countries in this connection. If ever there was a time for such political attitudes to be pushed aside in order to save the world from monetary danger, that time is the present. South Africa, like an adult, is prepared to ignore unfriendly political attitudes adopted against it in regard to this matter, and to co-operate with others who are also prepared to consider the question of international monetary liquidity de novo and objectively in the interests of the world economy.
Under present circumstances the question of the gold price is closely linked to the problem of retaining the dollar and sterling as two important international reserve units. We for our part and according to our views would like to assist in maintaining the strength of these currencies in relation to other currencies, because if one or both of them were to collapse and if uncertainty and crisis conditions were to result from that in the system of international payments, it could be disastrous for the whole world and also for us. Our endeavour in South Africa is not to obtain for ourselves a sudden, large benefit which may flow from an enforced increase in the price of gold, possibly with accompanying monetary disorder. Something like that may be disastrous to the whole world and consequently to us as well. South Africa has always endeavoured to achieve its object in an orderly fashion and in a form which will be to the advantage of the world economy as a whole. To me it seems somewhat inexplicable that certain nations appropriate to themselves the right to take on their own decisions on these questions, particularly the gold question, to the exclusion of other states which have as much interest in those matters and which are also competent to make a contribution. It is true that South Africa is not one of the ten wealthiest countries in the world, but we are nevertheless one of the dozen or so most important countries in the sphere of international trade, and consequently the question of the world’s currencies is of the greatest importance to us. We are not one of those countries which contributed to the gold pool, but we are nevertheless the world’s largest gold producer. Mr. Speaker, to speak about gold without mentioning South Africa, is like Hamlet without the Prince. I am convinced that South Africa can make a valuable contribution to these discussions. In any event, it seems wrong and unfair to me that one important point of view, the point of view in favour of an increase in the official price of gold, was not stated, or could not be stated fully, at international consultations such as those which were conducted in recent times. Surely, that is not conducive to the forming of a balanced judgment in regard to these matters. To me it was equally incomprehensible that the question of an increased gold price was completely excluded from the terms of reference of a committee of experts recently appointed by the Group of Ten to go into the question of the creation of reserve assets. Here I am referring to the so-called Ossolo Report of August, 1965. To me it seems as though certain bodies and persons deliberately close their eyes and ears to arguments in favour of gold, in spite of the fact that gold still is the most important international medium of payment and at present still enjoys the greatest measure of confidence. To me such an attitude does not appear to be one of strength. I believe the time has now arrived for the nations of the world which have a real interest in these matters and which are really able to make contributions, to meet once again to reconsider the entire question of international liquidity de novo, without any prejudice and without any preconceived ideas. South Africa is prepared to meet its obligations in this sphere in a responsible way.
I do not intend repeating our arguments in favour of an increased official gold price on this occasion to-day. These arguments have been put very clearly on many occasions. I only want to express the hope that the bodies and persons who are concerned in this matter will once again examine these arguments thoroughly and will not, as happens more often than not, ignore and reject them completely without considering them. In an attempt to find a solution to the world’s monetary problems, and particularly to the problem of the pressure which the dollar and the pound sterling experienced, a decision was recently taken in Washington to introduce the so-called two-tier system, the system of having two gold markets. As we all know there will now be two markets for gold, firstly, an official market on which gold deals take place between monetary concerns and institutions at an official fixed price of 35 dollars per fine ounce, and secondly, an open, free gold market with varying prices, of which the price will be determined by the forces of supply and demand.
The object of this arrangement is to prevent a further flow of monetary gold from official reserves to private ownership where it is held for industrial hoarding or purposes of speculation. This happened in the past. Gold flows in this direction, from monetary holdings to private holdings, because the price of gold on the free market exceeds the official price. Since steps are now being taken to prevent monetary gold from filtering through to the private, free market, it is hoped that the total quantity of monetary gold will be maintained at the existing level, even though the distribution of that gold amongst the countries may vary from time to time. If the deficits in the balance of payments of the U.S.A. continue to exist, her holdings of gold will decrease and those of the countries with surpluses will increase, but the total quantity of monetary gold ought to remain the same. Of course, a quantity of new gold may always be absorbed into the monetary reserves. An underlying idea of this plan may be to allow gold to find its own price level on the free market so as to get some criterion or indication of what the real price of gold ought to be. Furthermore, it may also be the endeavour to use the free market as a means of forcing the price of gold down to 35 dollars or lower so as to invalidate the arguments in favour of a higher gold price. Whatever the stated or unstated objects of this scheme may be, one thing is certain. We do not believe, and I take it that most of the architects of this scheme do not believe either, that this is a lasting solution to the world’s monetary problems. It is merely a temporary remedy, a gimmick, as it is at present being called in high financial circles in Europe and America. It solves no basic problems. In practice it will be very difficult in the long run to prevent a leak of gold from the official market to the free market, particularly if the price on the latter market is higher. A system of two prices for one commodity has never succeeded in the long run. It may perhaps render temporary assistance to suppress speculation against the dollar, but by itself, it cannot save the dollar or the pound sterling. The reasons for the problem of these two countries, the U.K. and the U.S.A., must be sought in their own internal economies and their unfavourable balances of payments. As long as the U.S.A., for example, continues to have the tremendous deficits on its balance of payments, as has been the case for many years, the pressure on the dollar will remain and there will be uncertainty in international monetary circles and the demand for gold will continue. In the U.S.A. as well as in the U.K. measures have been announced, and have already been implemented in part, to eliminate the uneven balances of payments. The world is now waiting in suspense to see whether and how they are going to succeed in doing so. The world is no longer satisfied with words and promises; it now wants to see deeds and results. The coming months will be decisive in this connection and in many circles there is doubt whether the U.S.A., for example, will be able to put its house in order. If the U.S.A. does not succeed in achieving this object, the artificial character of this two-tier system will become very obvious.
The only real value of this system is, firstly, that it gains time—it may gain time for an opportunity to be created to seek solutions that are new and more permanent—secondly, that it is an admission of the fact that the pegging of all gold on one price for such a long time was a wrong step; and thirdly, that it is a step in the right direction, in the direction of a general revaluation of gold in relation to other mediums of payment. Now another question arises. Suppose the U.S.A. does succeed in correcting its balance of payments, the following problem threatens. The extent to which the U.S.A. will be able to correct its balance of payments, will be the extent to which dollars will be withheld from the rest of the world and will be the extent to which the source of dollars of international liquidity will be exhausted, which in turn may lead to a deterioration in the position of international currencies. As South Africans our answer to this problem is that an increase in the official price of gold offers the solution, that that will be the necessary supplementation of the international reserves. Other nations, particularly the U.S.A., do not want to hear of this, however, and that is why the I.M.F. recently decided on a new artificial creation for supplementing international reserves, by means of this creation which is called Facilities for Special Drawing Rights. I do not want to go into the details of these new facilities today. I just want to say that although the system may bring temporary relief, it cannot offer any lasting solution to the basic money problems of the world either. Above all, it offers no solution to the problems of the United Kingdom and the U.S.A., unless they are created in such quantities that that in turn will cause international inflation, which will be much worse than that which an increased gold price may entail. For the Facilities for Special Drawing Rights—the S.D.R.s—are merely a form of credit provision without the underlying discipline of gold. As long as the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom are unable to solve their balance of payments problems, the S.D.R. system will provide no solution. Furthermore, it seems to me as though this system seeks to place a premium on countries which cannot control their international monetary commitments, at the cost of those countries which do in fact succeed in putting their own affairs in order. The success of any international currency is based on the confidence the world has in it, and I believe that this confidence depends on the extent to which it is covered by gold. At the moment the confidence the world has in paper money, is at a very low ebb. In times of relative peace it is virtually nil. In times of international unrest and war even this measure of confidence will disappear entirely and the world will move away from the S.D.R.s and fall back on gold once again.
If one wishes to test the value of this system of Special Drawing Rights, one can merely ask oneself the following question: If I had to choose between two countries, one which has all its reserves in S.D.R.s and the other which has all its reserves in gold, which country would I choose?
It is being suggested that it is possible that the U.S.A. may proceed to demonetizing gold entirely, i.e. to free the dollar completely from gold, or to free gold completely from the dollar. It is being suggested that such a thing, if it were to happen, would constitute a tremendous threat to gold. I cannot imagine the U.S.A ever taking such a rash step, since it could actually cause international disruption and would completely destroy confidence in paper money. One of the reasons why the U.S.A. is opposed to a higher gold price, is that she believes that it would mean a devaluation of the dollar and that it would shock confidence in the dollar and amount to breach of faith. If that is the case, freeing the dollar from gold should be an even greater shock and much more of a breach of faith. What about those countries which have extensive dollar holdings and which have acquired them because they believed that these dollars would always be convertible into gold? Do you think that those countries would resign themselves to accepting such a system and that they would continue to accumulate dollars if they expected such a thing?
When the U.S.A. had a great deal of gold, she could still have considered such a thing, but now that her gold reserves are diminishing and those of other countries are increasing, such a step would be a tremendous shock as far as international confidence is concerned. Such a step would lead to two gold blocs in the world: on the one hand, those countries in the world which range themselves on the side of gold, monetary units which are covered by gold, and, on the other hand, those countries which range themselves on the side of America with their monetary units which are covered by the dollar. Then the dollar will have a fluctuating value which will have to be determined daily, which will lead to uncertainty in the rates of exchange and have the effect of hampering world trade. I cannot believe that such a thing could ever happen. For how long have attempts already been made to demonetize gold? No success has been achieved so far. Quantitively speaking gold has indeed in recent times lost its relative share in the international reserves owing to the low price of gold, but as a criterion of value gold cannot be substituted. Qualitatively gold can never be demonetized.
Now I want to deal with the future balance. What about the future? I want to say that to me it is inconceivable that the U.S.A. will ever proceed to a demonetization of gold, but if it should happen, if the inconceivable does take place, what then? My reply is this. Even if it were to happen, then I still have every confidence in the long-term future of gold. At first gold will perhaps, as is already the case, decrease quantitatively in the total amount of monetary reserves, but its qualitative significance as a criterion of value for the currencies of the world—I cannot visualize how that can ever be abandoned. Gold still remains the best means of determining the value of one currency in relation to others. I cannot imagine that under the present circumstances another monetary unit, such as the dollar, can become the criterion of the monetary units of the world. That would make the world dependent upon the economic vicissitudes and the political decisions of one particular country. It is not possible that the demonetization of gold, if it should happen, may cause the free gold market to suffer a temporary shock and that it may in this way cause a temporary drop in the gold price. But I believe that in the long run gold will retain its value and that its price will nevertheless have to increase. That will be as a result of the inherent qualities of gold. There will always be people who have indestructible confidence in gold, apart from its monetary significance. As prices rise and as paper money without gold backing increases, there will always be people who will seek the security of their future in gold.
For a decade the U.S.A. could retain the confidence in the dollar, because it possessed a great deal of gold, but as its gold holdings dropped, the confidence in the dollar also weakened. In addition there is the industrial demand for gold for jewellery and ornamental purposes, for industry in general, for electronics, for space travel, for the aircraft industry, etc. The demand in this regard is increasing all the time, and in a few years’ time it may absorb the total gold production. It is the special qualities of gold, qualities which no other metal has, which has made it a sought-after metal through the ages and which will also ensure its being in demand in future. It is these special qualities of gold, along with its scarcity value, which will contribute to its price having to be increased in the future.
Then I also believe that for the sake of its own safety every country will always have to have a considerable amount of gold in its possession for strategic reasons. I do not think that any right-minded Government would dare to consider a future war without considerable gold holdings. In other words, irrespective of what may happen in the monetary sphere, I have no fear for the long-term future of gold. It is on this basis that South Africa has to determine its practical policy for the future. In the first place, we are fortunate in that financially we find ourselves in a very favourable position to-day. Economically we are strong. Our balance of payments is sound. Large amounts of money are flowing into the country daily. Our gold and foreign exchange reserves have reached record heights and are still on the increase. Our foreign debt is minimal. At the moment it is not necessary for us to sell gold. Nor are we selling any gold at present. Nor shall we be compelled to sell gold in the foreseeable future. At the moment our foreign exchange holdings are sufficient to meet our foreign commitments. We are therefore in the fortunate position that we are not being compelled to take any forced steps which may be to the future detriment of our economy and our gold-mining industry.
Since our position is strong and since we have confidence in the future, we are prepared to sacrifice any profit which may be of a temporary nature if by doing so we can ensure our long-term future as a gold-producing country. I am glad to be able to say that the Government and the Chamber of Mines are in agreement in this regard. The fact that the free market price of gold is at the moment not much higher than the official gold price, does not alarm me. The artificial situation that exists to-day as a result of the two-tier system, does not lend itself to the determination of the world price of gold. Furthermore, it is known, and this is important, that a large amount of speculative gold is being bought and sold on the free market to-day. It may even be that there is to-day 2,000 tons of gold which has been purchased for purposes of speculation and which has to be sold on the free market now or in the near future. It stands to reason that this gold must have a depressing effect on the free gold price. Apart from that, I also believe that there are certain invisible powers that are using other means to force the gold price down. It is therefore to be expected that the free market price for gold will have to remain low for a while. How long this period will be is difficult to say. We must assume that the market will in fact absorb this speculative gold one day. As soon as that happens, the price of gold ought to increase again. Our own policy will be not to sell any gold for the time being.
We have no reason for selling gold at the moment. The new gold which the mines are making available, will be bought by the Reserve Bank in the meantime, and when South Africa proceeds to selling gold on the free market one day, the sales will be effected by the mining industry under the control and the supervision of the authorities. When it is necessary for us to sell gold again in order to earn foreign exchange, South Africa will make use of its right to sell new gold on the open market through the mining industry. However, when we do so, we shall always have due regard to the long-term interests of the gold-mining industry and arrange our sales accordingly.
We shall also make use of our right to sell gold to monetary authorities at the official price. We know that, for the sake of their long-term interests and for the sake of promoting monetary stability, numerous countries will be keen to supplement their gold supplies. We shall, as soon as we have gold for sale, be prepared to try to meet this need. However, the question of when we shall resume our gold sales and how much we will be selling on each of the two markets, is something in regard to which no decision needs to be taken as yet. Our attitude will be determined from time to time in the light of the long-term interests of South Africa and of the gold-mining industry. Nor am I prepared to state now where we are going to sell our free gold. There are many technical and other problems that have to be taken into account in this regard. In the meantime we are not committed to either of the gold markets. We are free to market as and where we deem it fit and in the interests of South Africa. In future we shall market our gold at that place or those places and through those particular channels where this can be done to the greatest and most permanent benefit for South Africa.
In conclusion I want to deal with just one other matter. I have already stated that currencies can only be sound if they are based on confidence. Confidence is the basis of all money, national and international. The task of the monetary authorities of to-day is to find international currencies in which humanity has confidence; otherwise they will not succeed in their endeavour. But now we find the alarming and absolutely incomprehensible fact that leading countries of the world are engaged to-day in weakening and eliminating also that part of international currencies which has always enjoyed general confidence. Of all the international currencies gold still forms the major part to-day. Gold still deserves the greatest confidence to-day. Not sterling or the dollar, but gold. Through the ages, in the most uncertain times, gold has been the anchor on which humanity has been fastening, and is still fastening, his hope and confidence. That is why it is so incomprehensible that responsible bodies are trying to dislodge this anchor of confidence, namely gold. In these uncertain times and for the sake of international stability one would rather have expected the financial leaders of the world to have clung first of all to that which generates lasting confidence, an element of confidence which already exists. One would think that they would make that their point of departure and elaborate on that. Now we see the staggering and incomprehensible phenomenon that responsible bodies are doing just the opposite. They are trying to destroy the confidence which still exists and which is a part of our international system of payment. To me this is something inconceivable.
In conclusion I want to say that in all modesty I want to sound the warning that to my mind such a step is an injustice, a profound injustice, not so much to gold and gold-producing countries, but to the world and humanity as a whole. It is an injustice of which, if it were to continue, everybody will reap the bitter fruits one day. I believe that it is still not too late. I trust that before long well-meaning leaders in this field will come to their senses once again, and I hope that goodwill and common sense will yet prevail.
Question put: That all the words after “That” stand part of the motion.
Upon which the House divided:
Tellers: G. P. C. Bezuidenhout and G. P. van den Berg.
Tellers: H. J. Bronkhorst and A. Hopewell.
Question affirmed and amendment dropped.
Motion accordingly agreed to.
Estimates of Expenditure from Revenue Account [R.P. 1—’68] and from Loan Account [R.P. 8—’68].
Votes 1, 2 and 3 put and agreed to.
Amendment in clause 2 put and agreed to.
Just before the House adjourned on Friday I had said by way of introduction that during 12 hours of debate on the second reading of this Bill, a stage where, for the most part, one discusses the principles contained in the Bill, there was really nothing new forthcoming from the opposite side. The same pattern was followed as that followed in previous debates of this nature, but I do think there was a little less bitterness, less sharpness and a little less malicious joy. But in the main the same basic objections have been repeated in this debate, and consequently one can almost sum up the Opposition’s objections to this Bill in a nutshell by quoting the introductory words of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition when he informed this House what their principle objection was. Sir, I have said that there was less hate and less acrimony than usual, but that does not mean to say that there was none at all. I am thinking for example of the uncalled-for, worthless kind of comment such as that made by the hon. member for Karoo who practically threw his hands into the air and stated that I should kindly inform the House what the Coloureds had done that we should hate them so. That was not only uncalled-for, it contributed nothing to the debate. The hon. member asked: What had they done to deserve our hate? Who hates them? I think that the National Party Government has proved to the Coloureds—and they accept this and are grateful for it (I have a great deal of evidence to prove what I am saying)—that they have not only shown more interest in them but also that they have received more assistance and that they have progressed further along the road leading to the development of a national pride of their own than has been the case under any former Government. The hon. member for Hillbrow, to mention another example, was the man who held the conscience speech here. After he had consulted his conscience and found that his conscience was still a typical United Party one, he stated that we were interring the white man’s honour.
Sir, it is not my intention to resort to that kind of argument, and to spend my time on trivialities. I want to turn in particular to the principal objections put forward by the Opposition. One of their principal objections, one of their main accusations, was, inter alia, that this Bill, which we have now introduced here, also as a result of the recommendation contained in the majority report of the committee, in no way took into account the so-called weight of evidence as submitted to that committee. Before mentioning a few names, I should like to convey my heartfelt congratulations to all the members on this side on the contributions they have made to this debate. As a result of the effectiveness of their speeches they have actually made it difficult for me, who as Minister has to reply to the second-reading debate, to find something to say which they have not already said, because one speaker after another on this side has simply taken to pieces the principal arguments of the previous United Party speakers, with logic and proof. The assertion was made here that we did not take the weight of evidence into consideration. The hon. member for Malmesbury in the first place, and the hon. member for Odendaalsrus, have, as members of the committee, replied very effectively to that assertion. They referred to the evidence of one witness after the other in order to prove the contrary, but I should just like to add to that, in regard to this matter of the weight of evidence, that the report of the committee has already been dealt with thoroughly in this House, but I think I owe it to this House and the electorate to show how the Opposition has dealt with the evidence and on what grounds its minority report was based.
It is once again necessary to throw some light on the facts of the investigation as they affect the Opposition. It appears from the statement made by the hon. member for Yeoville, as it appeared in The Star of 4th December, 1967, that the United Party had for two years previously been busy with an investigation of their own into the political representation of the Coloured population, under the chairmanship of the hon. member for Gardens, the leader of the United Party in the Cape, who was also a member of this Commission of Inquiry. Similarly the hon. member for Yeoville is the leader of the United Party in the Transvaal. The Leader of the Opposition has acknowledged this investigation by their party, which was either of longer duration or was commenced sooner than the one appointed by this House. The United Party has therefore had the advantage of two commissions of inquiry, of two reports, and nevertheless we find that after having had all the evidence at their disposal and having evaluated the weight of evidence in that regard, the following position was reached. In the first place they proposed (according to page XXIX of the Minutes of the Commission of Inquiry) that the Common Voters’ Roll be reinstated for the Coloured voters in the Cape and Natal. Immediately after that motion was negatived, they voted for a motion with this preamble: “That this Commission, after having carefully considered the representations and evidence, is of the opinion …” and then they voted, and do you know for what? For separate voters’ rolls for the entire Coloured population of the Republic, with representation in the House of Assembly and in the provincial councils, and in fact for a voters’ roll without any qualifications for franchise except the age qualification. That is what they voted for. And please note, both provincial leaders of the United Party voted for this, the chairman of their own commission of inquiry, together with the provincial leader of the Transvaal, the hon. member for Yeoville. And that after they had just introduced a motion in regard to the Common Voters’ Roll and had lost the division. Now my question is on what weight of evidence did the United Party come to two such directly opposed resolutions so rapidly, and that within the course of one morning and one sitting of the Commission of Inquiry? This was followed by the report of the minority group.
We must accept that once again this report was at least drawn up after consideration and attention had been given to the weight of evidence. What do we find? Merely a recommendation that our Coloured citizens should have some form or other of defined representation in the sovereign Parliament. There is no longer any indication and no description of the form; there is nothing further.
This was followed shortly after by the Bloemfontein Congress. Once again we have to accept that the weight of evidence must have weighed heavily or counted a great deal with the United Party. What do we find? They abandoned their policy in respect of the Common Voters’ Roll, and there is an acceptance of separate voters’ rolls, but now with this important difference that there will be two rolls, one with qualifications for franchise but no indication of what the qualifications are. Then we also find the abolition of the representation of Coloured voters in the provincial council of the Cape, something which the minority reported wanted to retain. This is the story of the weight of evidence as seen through United Party spectacles. But this United Party conduct is evidence in itself in regard to this matter. It furnishes damning evidence against the United Party, to the effect that they have treated this entire matter with the greatest recklessness and the greatest political opportunism one could ever imagine. And now the hon. member for Bezuidenhout, who anticipated this Commission of Inquiry, and the hon. member for Karoo, who did the same, have come forward and made their own policy statements in public. In the public Press they have asked for representation for each population group by its own members in the House of Assembly.
No: Where did I say that?
We have heard a great deal about the weight of evidence, but what remains now of the weight of evidence, as the United Party has dealt with it, is not only an enigma …
May I put a question? Would the hon. Minister give me proof of this statement he has just made?
Yes, both the hon. member for Bezuidenhout, as well as the hon. member for Karoo, anticipated this Commission. Is that what you mean?
Only in regard to the Coloureds. I only made a statement in regard to Coloureds.
Yes, but that statement you made anticipated this report of the Coloured Commission.
That is not what you said.
Well, that is what I meant to say. [Interjection.] But I want to go further. The impression was created here, and it was stated very explicitly by the hon. member for Durban (North) as well as the hon. member for Pinelands, that we were not to deduce from the fact that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition had mentioned the number of witnesses, 26 for and 29 against, or anything of that nature, that they were merely counting heads. I know that. But if they want to determine the weight of evidence in this way, they may just as well have counted heads, because it is a common occurrence in any court, whether it is the magistrate’s court or the Supreme Court or the Appeal Court, that the weight of evidence is in favour of a person who is for example found guilty and that the court finds that person guilty, not because he could not find sufficient evidence with which to try and prove his innocence, but because the court based its judgment on the quality of the evidence and not on the quantity. [Laughter.] I want to go further. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition is laughing now, but consider what happened in 1948. Sometimes it also happens that the nation is called in to act as judge. In 1948 the nation was called in to act as judge. The United Party on the one hand had the weight of evidence in numbers, and the National Party a considerable minority in numbers. There one also had judges who determined the weight of evidence according to quality and substance, and not according to quantity. That is why the United Party is sitting where it is to-day. Now I want to tell you that it does not follow from what I am now saying that one must always seek the weight of evidence in the minority report, or in the majority report, because since that time the nation as such has been proving the minority wrong throughout. That is why they are still in opposition and why they will remain in opposition when I have proved on what grounds they based their arguments here in the course of this debate in order to create an impression both within and outside and to prove the Government and the National Party to be people who break their word, to be people who throw their leaders overboard, whose word one cannot believe at all and who do not have a policy, whereas they are supposed to have had consistency. I shall come to that.
But I should like to furnish specific replies to one or two questions which have been put. It has been put to me that these four Coloured Representatives should really be the people who should interpret the voice of the Coloured population and of the Coloured Council in this Parliament. Now, I have no objection. I do not want to berate the Opposition if that is their honest opinion, but I maintain that there was no weight of evidence whatsoever to the effect that that was what the Coloureds as such felt—and this has been proved, you can read through the report of the Commission yourself. It was by way of exception that they pleaded for the retention of the Coloured representation as it exists today in Parliament, i.e. those four members, who are only three now; and in reality there are only two left. My question is as follows: Suppose they have to be elected in the way in which they have to be elected, or are being elected at present, because it did not become apparent from the discussions in this debate in what other way the Opposition wanted to have them elected. They advocated the retention of Coloured representation as it exists at present, and as a result of the arguments which were put forward here I have the right to accept that they will be elected in the same way as they are at present being elected. Now I want to ask the following question: If they are to be elected in this way, what control, if any, if there to ensure that those four Coloured representatives will be the mouthpiece of the Coloured Persons Council in this Parliament? What assurance, if any, is there that this will be the case?
I want to go further and state that nobody on this side has at any time denied that the voice of the Coloureds should also be heard in this House. A means must be sought to ensure that their voice is heard here and the Prime Minister stated very emphatically only a few weeks ago that we were going to establish the Coloured Persons Council some time after the middle of next year. Then this newly elected Coloured Persons’ Council …
… will for the first time have a majority of elected members, i.e. 40 elected members and 20 nominated members—and it is only under the National Party Government that they have the privilege of electing a Coloured Persons’ Council. The old so-called Coloured Persons’ Advisory Council under the United Party, which we inherited, consisted entirely of nominated members. It is we who have effected a change for the better by having a majority elected and a minority nominated. We are now going much further. With a view to the experience they have gained over the years, since that still-existing Coloured Persons’ Council with a minority of elected members was established, the work they have done and the dedication they have shown, and the will and desire and endeavour to make a positive contribution on behalf of their own people, the National Party as the governor of this country—and it is the task of the Government of this country as guardian of the non-Whites to determine for them the time for further forward steps in their development—has now decided that the time has come and for the first time in their history they will have their own Parliament which we are going to call the Coloured Persons’ Representative Council. We are going to call it by its old name, despite what the Commission suggested.
The hon. the Prime Minister also stated that the time may come when the Coloured Persons Representative Council would desire to have another name and that it could then consider whether that name was a desirable one or not. But the fact remains that that Coloured Persons Council which is now being elected by the Coloureds, and in regard to which we will introduce legislation—it stands here on the Order Paper—will be something that the Coloureds have never had before. That is why I find it reprehensible when the opposite side— and I am going to return to this later—tries to belittle the importance of that Council as an administrative body, as the hon. member for Bezuidenhout, inter alia, did. But that is precisely what hon. members opposite did in regard to the establishment of the present Council, and I am going to refer to that, and I shall quote to you from Hansard what hon. members on the opposite side said in regard to that Council. For any steps which the National Party have taken to improve or to develop more favourable race relations in order to improve the lot of the various race groups on a separate basis, on the basis of parallel development, has been opposed by the Opposition tooth and nail for obvious reasons; they are basically opposed to any form of separation because basically they advocate integration and bringing together things which ought not to be brought together.
I have been asked why the Coloureds of Natal are now being disenfranchised. Admittedly this Bill, if it becomes law, will put an end to an old historic heritage—the right which a steadily diminishing group of Coloureds in Natal had to vote on a joint voters’ roll, together with the Whites of Natal, for representatives to this House. As I have said this small group of Coloureds is steadily diminishing. When we previously established separate representation for Coloureds, we could, owing to the geographic situation of Natal, not offer the Coloureds of Natal anything practical. We therefore allowed them to remain on the joint voters’ roll. But even now we are not disenfranchising them immediately —it will only be done at the end of the life of this Parliament. By that time it is hoped that the new Coloured Persons Representative Council will have been established and then the Natal Coloureds will receive the same treatment as all other Coloureds in the country—in other words—to vote, together with the other Coloureds, for the 40 representatives whom they have to elect to the Coloured Persons Representative Council. I can in no way understand why the Natal Coloureds should receive different treatment in this regard than the Coloureds of the other Provinces. That is why I do not want them to vote on two voters’ rolls—one on behalf of a few United Party men who in any case were never interested in them, and another one for their own council. [Interjections.] We are not afraid of losing their votes—it is you who are raising objections. We want to bring it home to the Natal Coloureds that they form part of the Coloured population of the entire Republic of South Africa, and that, together with the others, they play a role as one people, one nation, and one cultural group with its own identity. The Coloureds in Natal will have to learn that the Coloureds in the Republic cannot be divided up according to the Provinces into four groups, but that all of them belong to one people who have their own identity.
As regards the statement by hon. members on the opposite side that Coloureds should have representation here, I have already said that I regard it as premature to say a thing like that now. We are not saying that their voice is not going to be heard. The hon. the Prime Minister has already stated that the channels, the lines of communication, between the Coloured Persons Representative Council and this Parliament will be worked out in consultation with the Coloured Persons Council, and not after consultation with the United Party for example. The course being followed by the Opposition is diametrically opposed to ours, and we have no intention of allowing ourselves to be led off course by them.
The hon. member for Durban (North) asked me whether the senators who have been appointed to the Senate on the grounds of their knowledge of the Coloureds are going to be removed. No, definitely not, because they are not representatives of the Coloureds.
But they are supposed to be chosen on account of their knowledge of the Coloured people to act as a channel for them.
There was only one senator representing the Coloured people in the Senate. I refer to ex-Senator Olivier. The other senators were appointed by the Government …
On the grounds of their special knowledge of the Coloured people.
No, not only that. When they were nominated their knowledge of Coloured affairs was a consideration.
And they must serve as the channel for …
Yes, they can serve that purpose and they will continue to serve that purpose; the only difference is that there will be more channels for the Coloured population. They are not responsible to the Coloureds; they are nominated by the Government, and consequently they are responsible to this Parliament, either to the Senate or the Government, actually to the Government. It is a Government channel which has been established, and they remain where they are. That is the reply.
The hon. member for Durban (North) also discussed our Constitution. He said we were violating the Constitution because we were changing it. He says we were abolishing; Coloured representation here. He said we were like Barney Barnato: “If you don’t like my principle, I will change it.” He says we were changing our principles left, right and centre, as we pleased. I find it rather strange that the United Party should accuse us of changing principles and changing the Constitution, and of making light of our principles. They are ostensibly making such a fuss of the Constitution and venerating it to such an extent. It was stated here on behalf of their hon. Leader that the hon. Opposition’s new policy is that the Coloureds may be represented here in this Parliament, if they so desire, by Coloureds themselves as well as by Whites. Since when does our Constitution make provision for that? In other words, if they want to implement their policy which they have trumpeted forth with such acclaim here, they will also have to amend the Constitution. But after all the nation is not there for the sake of a Constitution. Surely the Constitution is there for the sake of the nation. What government, in the past or in the future, can, if it wants to govern the country correctly, let itself be bound by a Constitution and not have the right to change it? Of course we are changing it, but we are changing it on a democratic basis. We are changing it in a constitutional way. Nothing in the world can prevent us from changing it, and it is not a change in principle. I am coming to that now, because that is their main theme, i.e. that we have thrown our principles overboard. They maintain that we have not only thrown our principles overboard, we have gone and thrown our principles overboard with Dr. Verwoerd and all.
That is correct.
I am glad that hon. members opposite are reacting so strongly to this. Now I just want to prove that these assertions that we are breaking our word, that we are throwing our principles overboard, and that we are acting in conflict with the policy and the vision of Dr. Verwoerd, are completely erroneous, they are completely erroneous, they are completely untrue. They are untrue. If the United Party, which is the official Opposition and which must consequently be accepted as the alternative government of the country, knows so little about the Government’s policy and reveals such great ignorance after it has heard it being stated here year after year for many years, as well as having a knowledge of this Party’s history, then I do not think it has or will ever have the right to criticize this Government or this Party. One should at least try to go into the history of a Party. I am now going to give hon. members opposite a short history lesson. This National Party, of which I am a member, and which is governing the country to-day, was born in 1915. Since the day of its establishment the National Party was never satisfied or felt happy with the political representation or the political place the Coloured population had occupied in the White or the South African politics. I am now going to take hon. members back to 1st October, 1931. On that day a National Party congress was held in Kimberley, and at that congress the first motion under discussion was a motion to the effect that the National Party should make it its task and should accept as its principle that the Coloureds should receive separate representation by removing them from the common voters’ roll. It was decided at that congress, by a considerable majority of votes, that it was too soon to do what was being proposed, that it could not happen then. In 1932 the following resolution was adopted, with only one dissentient vote, by the Provincial Congress of the National Party at Stellenbosch (translation)—
In 1932 this particular motion was accepted with only one dissentient vote. That was in the days when the National Party was governing under the late General Hertzog.
The one dissentient vote was that of General Hertzog himself.
Wait a moment. I shall tell the hon. member now. Look, this is where the United Party is making such a mistake. In the course of time they are always trying to appropriate our leaders and our foremost men. They are doing so because every leader this Party has had has won great acclaim and a great name, not only in South Africa, but abroad as well. They steal them and then want to make the world believe that these men were their leaders as well. I shall tell hon. members what happened. This was in 1932. In 1936, when General Hertzog was the leader of the United Party, he made a certain proposal in the House of Assembly. [Interjections]. Wait, let me now tell the United Party what they inherited, because at that time there was a split amongst the Nationalists. Some of them walked over to the other side, and the rest remained behind. Then the Purified National Party actually represented the old National Party, and General Hertzog and a large part of the National Party, which really comprised the majority, formed a coalition with General Smuts. Now I want to show hon. members what went on in that Party at that time. In 1936 General Hertzog moved the following motion in respect of the Natives, who were at that time still on the joint voters’ roll (translation)—
Who opposed this? The late ex-Minister Hofmeyr, and according to Hansard of 1936 he had the following to say. I want the hon. member for Bezuidenhout to listen to this, because these are actually the words he wants to use. The late Minister Hofmeyr stated as follows (translation)—
Here the United Party, because Mr. Hofmeyr was never a Nationalist, was already advocating certain things. From as far back as can be remembered he had been differing from the logical line of thought of the National Party under the leadership of General Hertzog, even when he was the United Party Prime Minister in 1936. In 1938 …
Mr. Chairman, may I ask the hon. Minister a question?
No, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition has had opportunity enough to put questions, and I am not going to let him put questions to me now. I can guess what he wants to ask. He wants to ask how it came about that they were subsequently given separate representation.
No, that is not what I want to ask.
No, apart from what he wants to ask, I am now making my own speech and I do not want to lose the thread of my argument. In 1938 Dr. Malan, as leader of the Purified National Party, accepted within the Constitution and according to the principles of the constitution of the Party that this Party would strive to attain and would also accept the responsibility for placing the Coloureds on separate voters’ rolls. This formed part of the election manifesto of the National Party in 1948. It was clearly stated therein. The hon. member for Gardens knows extremely little about the National Party; that is why he asked me what they said in 1948.
No, I said 1928.
I have given an account of the events since 1938.
You forgot 1928.
I shall tell hon. members what happened then, which is what the hon. member wants to refer to. Reference has already been made to that. The statement has been made that Dr. Malan even wanted Coloured women on the voters’ roll. That is a shameless distortion of the truth, because in those days even the White women did not have the franchise. This was in 1921, and not in 1928, to be precise. I shall correct hon. members.
Your history is quite confused.
At that time women had not yet been granted the vote. Dr. Malan stated that he had actually found himself in a dilemma, and that is why he did not feel that the time had come—that was his attitude at that time—for women to be given the franchise, if he had to give the franchise to women and not to the Coloureds, great pressure would possibly have been exercised on him to give the Coloured women the franchise as well. We did not want to allow that. I now say that this Government, under this new dispensation, is allowing the Coloured Persons Council to be elected and is removing them from our own politics, out of this Parliament, and giving them their own Parliament so that they can govern their own affairs, and is giving, for the first time, the Coloured woman the right and the privilege of being equal in respect of the interests and the resolutions which have to be taken in the interests of her own nation, of which she is the mother. If that is not an improvement on what has existed up to now! It also deals a death-blow to the argument that what we are offering them is no improvement on what they formerly had. As I have said, we had this manifesto in 1948. In the Havenga-Malan agreement, clause 3—I have it here, but I do not want to take up the time of the House in dealing with it—Mr. Havenga and Dr. Malan were not entirely in agreement in regard to separate Coloured representation. According to clause 3 each retained the right, as regards this provision, to reserve his own view in regard to the matter. That is what they did. It was in the interests of the National Party. Dr. Malan did not sacrifice anything there. In fact, ever since we stipulated it in our Party Constitution as a matter of principle Dr. Malan was, up to the day of his death, a strong advocate of that principle, and he adhered to the principle, i.e. increased separation, in the political sphere as well, between White and non-White. Dr. Donges joined him in adhering to the same principle. In 1951 Dr. Dönges piloted through a few measures. When he introduced the debate on the Separate Representation of Voters Act he mentioned five reasons for taking that step. I have here a statement he made (translation)—
The fourth requirement to which such a system had to comply was to place the Coloureds on a separate voters’ roll and to give them separate representation.
There sits one of the greatest offenders, namely the hon. member for Houghton, who has the ability of letting her tongue run away with her, and who can in addition be as sharp and cutting as a knife. The fifth requirement he put forward was a very important one in the political times in which we are living.
There is nobody who can tell me that the 1951 Amendment Act, which removed the Coloureds from the common voters’ roll, and placed them on a separate voters’ roll, was not an improvement.
We come now to 1954. I challenge any speaker on that side of the House—if they were able to do this, they would have done it already—to prove that Advocate Strijdom, after he became Prime Minister of the country, at any time advocated the retention of Coloured representation in this House as it exists at present. He never said that. We also envisaged it in the 1948 manifesto, as a result of the Paul Sauer Commission, on which the National Party of all four provinces was represented. I now come to what my colleague, the present Minister of Defence—he was at that time Minister of Coloured Affairs—said in this House in 1960. An attempt has been made here, in a shameless way in my opinion, by the Leader of the Opposition to interpret what he had said in this House when the report of the Commission was being discussed, in respect of Dr. Verwoerd’s policy, as an insult or as a blot on the character of the late Dr. Verwoerd, and of his integrity in regard to the nation and his own Party. It has even been said that he differed from Dr. Verwoerd. In 1960 he stated in this House (translation)—
This was said by the Minister after the introduction of the Coloured Persons Council. In 1961 Dr. Verwoerd made the following statement, in addition to what the present Prime Minister read out and quoted from Hansard, and which I feel like reading out again. But I want to read from another column than that from which the Prime Minister read. There, Dr. Verwoerd said (translation)—
He said this on 24th January. On 17th May, 1961, Mr. P. W. Botha, referring to a speech of the Prime Minister, the late Dr. Verwoerd, said (translation)—
This is extremely important. If it is not clear to hon. members in this House, then I do not know what will be clear to them. On 10th April, 1964 …
Why do you not read what he said in 1962?
I shall do so gladly. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition quoted the following from Hansard (Hansard, 1962, col. 93)—
For how long?
I have said that it will remain in existence. Must I say for ever?
He said that it would remain in existence, but that for how long it would do so was beside the point. His point of view was that they would not remain in existence for ever. That is what he is saying here. [Interjections.] That shows how people are trying to wrest it out of context. I am reading further—
In 1962 he did not give further consideration to it. However, I can mention thousands of examples relating to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition who does not even give thought to next year during this.
What about 1964?
I shall come to that in a moment. But what did Dr. Verwoerd say in the same year? He was asked this question (translation)—
The hon. the Prime Minister quoted this from Hansard of 10th April.
Was it in 1961 or 1962?
1962. This is the reply the hon. the Prime Minister gave:
That is what he said.
He probably envisaged that Coloureds …
No, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition is once again talking about “he probably”. Mr. Speaker, have you ever in all your life heard of a responsible, a person who reads and listens and hears what is being said, who then wants the world to believe that what he thinks is the meaning, is really the meaning of another man’s words. I once told someone—and I think that this is the worst thing I have ever said to anyone—that he ought to refrain from thinking. He never forgave me for that. Dr. Verwoerd went on to say—
In Parliament as well?
No, not representation here. I have just, in regard to the Coloureds, stated very clearly, and I am saying this in regard to the Indians as well, we determine the progress of their development as far as that of the Council which will exercise authority over their affairs similar to what provincial authorities now have. Subsequently we will make further provision …
He did not block the road. I shall presently take this matter further to prove that he went much further than that at a later stage. [Interjections.] I now want to come to 1965, for why should we spend so much time on 1962. In 1965 Dr. Verwoerd was still with us. I remember very well that in 1965 he made certain statements in this House. On 10th April, 1965, the then Minister of Coloured Affairs, our present Minister of Defence, stated the following (translation)—
On 10th April, 1965, Dr. Verwoerd, referring to the consultation between the Coloured Persons Council and the Government on an exceptionally high level, stated, inter alia (translation)—
He subsequently stated—
He said “in some or other way”, but never the way the hon. members of the Opposition are suggesting it should take place. Then he could just as well have said that he regarded this representation as the best, and that it should remain in existence. He never said that. I shall go even further to prove how he regarded this view as definitely not being good enough. On 7th April, 1965, the hon. the Prime Minister, when his Vote was being discussed, said the following, inter alia—
Which we have done—
In other words, if it is not implied in these words spoken by Dr. Verwoerd in 1965—but only in other words—that Coloured representation in this House will have to be altered, if it does not disappear altogether, then words have no meaning whatsoever.
What I find reprehensible is that the United Party wishes to cast doubts on Dr. Verwoerd’s integrity here. [Interjection.]
It is you who are doing that.
No, we have not done that. Hon. members on the opposite side must not begin to feel ashamed now.
Were his promises useless?
I just want to show you, Mr. Speaker, what the English Press does. Here I have a report by the Cape Times correspondent, “Mrs. Verwoerd denies Botha’s claim”.
Read the entire report.
This report is an absolute justification of what the hon. Minister of Defence said here. There is no headline here which wants to make another representation; here it is simply stated: “Mrs. Verwoerd denies Botha’s claim.” I do not want to drag Mrs. Verwoerd into this debate because I have a high regard for her, and I hope that this feeling is a mutual one amongst all the members of this House, but I want to expose the tactics of the English-language newspapers, and with that the tactics of the United Party, because I think their behaviour is reprehensible. They are the holy apostles, so holy that when I referred the hon. member for Newton Park the other evening to the policy of the United Party in 1948 and pointed out that they had lost the election of 1948 principally as a result of the political policy of the late Mr. Hofmeyr, as he stated it either at Somerset West or at Somerset Strand, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said “No”. Strangely enough …
It is the wrong pamphlet.
No, the hon. member need not be afraid.
14th January, 1947.
I quote (translation)—
This is correct—
Hon. members will find it in Hansard of 1937, Col. 5528 in the Afrikaans version. I have already stated what his standpoint was in 1936, but I want to go further. On 15th January, 1947, the late Mr. Hofmeyr stated very explicitly what he wanted. On 28th March, 1946 (Hansard, Col. 4436), Mr. Hofmeyr also advocated this principle in the House of Assembly and stated—
According to the Cape Times of 15th January, 1947, he stated very clearly on 14th January, 1947, at the Strand (translation)—
He did not at that time state that Coloureds should be represented by Coloureds because it was not necessary since the Coloureds were at that stage still on the common voters’ roll. They were at that stage already being represented in certain instances by Whites in Parliament. But what would the position have been to-day if they had remained on the voters’ roll, taking into consideration the increase in population which has taken place and the increased interest which the United Party would have shown in them in regard to registration, etc.? Because no less a person than the hon. member for Bezuidenhout said that the Coloureds of the Cape were all entitled to vote, and why not. He also pointed out that they comprised more than 90 per cent of the total Coloured population of the country. I maintain that if the position had remained, and if the National Party had not come into power, we would quite possibly have had the position to-day that in the majority of constituencies in the Cape it would not have been the Whites who decided who their representatives in Parliament should be, it would have been the Coloureds who decided that for the Whites. Mr. Speaker, what I expected in a debate of this nature was not that hon. members should come along here and quote what this or that person had said at this or that time …
That is precisely what you have done.
But hon. members on that side have compelled me to do so. I did not do so in my introductory speech. There I confined myself to the principles. But the United Party are afraid of themselves, and they are even more afraid of their future. They are afraid of themselves because they know that they are losing one by-election after another with this liberal policy of theirs of a multi-racial Parliament. The hon. member for Bezuidenhout stated very clearly the other evening that there could be no white Parliament in a multi-racial country. Those were the words he used. That is what they believe. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, as well as other members on that side, have stated that we did not in 1948 receive a mandate from the voters to do what we are doing now. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition did not want to accept the challenge issued to him by my colleague, the hon. the Minister of Defence, to appear with him on the same platform at Swellendam.
I would go with the Prime Minister.
The arrogance of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition astonishes me. This is the most conceited thing I have ever heard, for in what country in the world —and this applies to South Africa as well— is the Leader of the Opposition, according to protocol, equal to the Prime Minister of the country? According to the protocol list the Leader of the Opposition is not even the equal of a Cabinet Minister. But now he wants to place himself above a Cabinet Minister. [Interjection.] He must not be petty-minded now.
Order! I think the hon. the Minister should return to the Bill now.
According to the newspapers the hon. the Leader of the Opposition went to address a meeting last Saturday night or Friday night at Bredasdorp on behalf of the candidature of the United Party member in the by-election at Swellendam. There was also a by-election in Pretoria (West) where a United Party candidate stood. Surely the hon. Leader of the Opposition had a golden opportunity, with both these by-elections, of presenting their objections in principle in respect of this legislation to the voters, and of testing the will of the nation there. Did he try to do so in any way? He did not even refer to it. That is why I say that they are afraid of bringing their policy into the open, and that they are afraid of their own future. Sir, the voters can rest assured that this National Government will try, as long as it remains in power, to protect the interests of all population groups in South Africa in such a way and to help develop and promote them in such a way that it will bring them the greatest possible happiness, peace and justice and will prevent them as far as possible from becoming the prey of wicked exploiters, irregardless of what group or party they may come from, because we feel that it is our responsibility to teach them responsibility, to introduce means to help them to help themselves and to develop with a view to peaceful co-existence and enabling them to play a more important and better role in South Africa as citizens of South Africa, and to afford them the opportunity of acquiring greater self-respect, a national pride of their own, and developing a greater love for South Africa. Mr. Speaker, when does one develop these things? One develops these things when one is afforded the opportunity of doing so for oneself; then one develops one’s own national pride; then one develops one’s own responsibility, and then it leads to happiness and not to frustration. This course leading to a multi-racial society and a multi-racial parliament and of the expansion of political rights, which the United Party wants to adopt—because their policy amounts to the gradual expansion of political rights for non-Whites but at a more gradual tempo than that envisaged by the Progressive Party—will only lead to frustration, for where in the world has it ever led to happiness? If one removes this so-called discrimination—we call it autogenous development—where one leads the non-White population groups and helps them along the road to a place where there will be living space for them, these people who are mentally less developed and who are on a lower level of civilization and who cannot yet bear the responsibility which the Whites are able to bear, then one brings them into direct competition with the white man. A large measure of the frustration which one finds to-day in other parts of the world, particularly in America, the country which, according to them, maintains the most humanitarian principles, is because the non-Whites who have been thrown without further ado amongst the Whites, realize that they will always remain inferior and poor because they cannot keep pace with equal competition. That is why I have no qualms of conscience and why I have nothing to reproach myself with. On the contrary I am grateful that I have been called upon to introduce this historic Bill here in the interests of the Coloured population and of South Africa.
Question put: That the word “now” stand part of the motion.
Upon which the House divided:
Tellers: G. P. C. Bezuidenhout and G. P. van den Berg.
Tellers: H. J. Bronkhorst and A. Hopewell. Question affirmed and amendment dropped. Motion accordingly agreed to and Bill read a Second Time.
That the Bill be now read a Second Time.
In view of the fact that the Government is now taking statutory action to terminate, with effect from a certain date, the representation of a minimal number of Cape Coloureds in Parliament and in the Cape Provincial Council, the question arises quite rightly whether it is still necessary to take steps by way of legislation to prohibit political interference by one population group or racial group in the politics of another population group. Everyone knows that in the past we have had to deal especially with not only improper interference, but also exploitation by Whites of the political rights of non-Whites in this country. Moreover, this was not aimed at serving or helping the non-Whites or furthering their interests. So they were made to believe, but unfortunately self-interest was the main motive. No one could benefit permanently from this, and among the Coloureds especially it created confusion and also disunity. It was by no means conducive to the fostering of better relations between White and non-White. It much rather served to undermine all that was good. Admittedly the interest of the Whites in the political activities of the Coloureds should fade and diminish now that the latter’s political rights will vest in their elected Coloured Council. The Coloured people will no longer be the political football in white politics that they have been. I sincerely hope that this will be the case. I believe it is the right of every population group to work out its own salvation without the interference of other population groups and to carry on its own political activities amongst its own people without any hindrance and in its own interests. This also applies to the Coloured people, particularly now that they are being enabled by the National Party Government to decide by themselves to a very large extent about those matters which are necessary for their future and indispensable to their progress along the road of national awareness. We also know that there are still political forces both inside and outside our country which will continue to do everything within their power to obstruct the Government in the implementation of its policy of separate development in the political field as well. We know, moreover, that the vast majority of thinking Coloureds are seeking protection against the political interferes from outside their own population group. With the advent of this new era in their history they prefer to be given the opportunity of proving their responsibility and of indicating their own course in their own way. As far back as 1964 the Federale Kleurlingvolksparty declared in its manifesto: “We do not want white political parties to come and upset us. The reason is clear, because they divide us into two groups and confuse us, and this does not bring us any nearer to what we want.”
We want to prevent this, and therefore, I regard this Bill as merely a further important foundation stone which we want to lay in the implementation of our policy of seeing to it as guardians that the right of self-determination is exercised by all population groups in as untrammelled and uninfluenced a way as possible. In order to achieve this positive aim, one must get rid of old practices which, as already mentioned, later deteriorated into malpractices.
In the Bill presently under discussion we confine ourselves to three basic principles only, which I shall deal with now. In so far as it is practically possible and feasible, we firstly want to prohibit any person from being a member of any political party of any other population group. Secondly, we want to prohibit persons of any population group, for personal gain and with improper aims and objects, whatever they may be, firstly, from rendering assistance as an agent, or, secondly, from being a member of an election committee, of a political party of which any person who belongs to any other population group, is a member, or of any person who belongs to any other population group …
May I ask the hon. the Minister a question? What does he mean by “agent” in this measure? Does the definition in the Electoral Act apply?
I am referring to “agent” as defined in the Electoral Act, because we are actually dealing with elections here. For example, a person who renders assistance as an agent, sits at a table and issues ballot papers and performs similar tasks.
That is not an agent in terms of the Electoral Act.
… and who has been nominated or may be nominated as a candidate for an election in terms of the Electoral Consolidation Act, 1946 (Act No. 46 of 1946), or the Coloured Persons’ Representative Council Act, 1964 (Act No. 49 of 1964). Furthermore, no person who belongs to one population group may address any meeting, gathering or assembly of persons of whom all or the greater majority belong to any other population group or groups, for the purpose of furthering the interests of a political party or the candidature of any person who has been nominated or may be nominated as a candidate for an election such as I referred to a moment ago. Thirdly, the receiving of financial assistance from abroad is being prohibited.
When it was decided on Monday, 26th September, 1966, to refer the draft Bill of that time to a select committee for investigation, the Opposition already admitted through its hon. Leader that abuses in connection with elections of Coloured representatives existed and had arisen. Moreover, the Muller Commission has now recommended in a majority report that steps should be taken by the Government to curb improper interference. In addition, on 28th February, 1968, during the discussion of the report of the Muller Commission, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition admitted, by way of implication, that there had been certain malpractices. In any case, in the course of the same debate the hon. the Prime Minister stated the Government’s attitude very firmly, thoroughly and clearly, and promised that we would introduce a Bill, and here we have the final result.
This measure is possibly not watertight, but we sincerely trust that it will deter persons who do not mean well from interfering in the affairs of the non-white population groups for personal gain. The Government has confidence in the Coloureds, and this Bill is not aimed against the Coloureds, but against those Whites who want to exploit the Coloureds. Neither need there be any doubt that the penalty provisions in the Act will be strictly applied in case of offences.
I want to conclude by stressing once again that as Whites we are the guardians of the non-white population groups, and as befits honest guardians, we must, by virtue of the position of trust in which we find ourselves, protect the rights of the non-Whites against being interfered with in any way whatsoever. If the Government should fail to protect the political rights of the non-white population groups against the exploitation of these rights which is taking place at present and has taken place in the past, it would seriously fail in its duty and would also be an accessory to that unlawful exploitation.
Over the years the National Party has always in all honesty and sincerity carried out its duty as guardian of the non-white population groups, and now, too, it will again fulfil its duty by doing everything within its power to protect them against the robbers of their political rights, who apparently have as their object not to promote the interests of the non-Whites, but only to further their own personal ambitions. By robbing the non-Whites of their political rights and by once again making them a political football in white politics, they are apparently trying to revive so-called political doctrines which the white electorate has repeatedly rejected most emphatically. Repeated warnings by members of the Government against these unlawful actions on the part of some Whites have simply been ignored in the past. Therefore it would not be worthy of us as well-meaning and honest guardians to shy away from this problem any longer.
I would seriously advise hon. members to think deeply about this matter so that we may discuss it during this debate in a manner which I trust will accord with our dignity and sincere intentions as white guardians.
Mr. Speaker, although we on this side of the House are against the acceptance of financial aid by political parties from sources outside the Republic of South Africa—we feel that practice is undesirable and should be put an end to—we find ourselves unable to support the legislation as put forward by the hon. the Minister. Despite the arguments of the Minister that there is need for this legislation, even after the removal of the Coloured Representatives in this House and the Coloured Representatives in the provincial council, the fact is that we are faced here to-day with legislation of a very far-reaching kind which I make bold to say is striking evidence of the failure of this Government to get electoral support from any of the non-European groups in South Africa.
The Minister has said that in view of this removal, the need is perhaps not as great as it was, and yet this is very far-reaching legislation indeed. I think we have to ask ourselves whether it is justified and whether it is going to achieve the object with which the hon. the Minister sets out, and whether it is not possible that it may have effects which are not expected at the moment and which may do quite a bit of damage to our relations between the races in South Africa.
This is one of the matters which was discussed by the Commission which was appointed to go into the improper political interference and the political representation of the various population groups. If one reads the minority report in that Report, one finds the minority group says that, “Having given careful consideration to the voluminous memoranda and evidence which this Commission received on the Prohibition of Improper Interference Bill, we came to the considered conclusion that the Bill should not be proceeded with, inter alia, for the following specific reasons …” I want to name just three of those reasons because I think one is irrelevant now because of the changed type of legislation we have before us. The first reason was the following—
The second reason is—
I have excluded the third reason, because I do not think it is relevant at this stage. The fourth reason reads as follows—
I leave out the portion dealing with financial aid from overseas and I quote paragraph 5, which reads as follows—
This Bill before us embodies really the recommendations which the minority group on that Commission thought were impracticable and not suitable for legislation. I think if one examines the Bill, one finds that first of all it is based on the report of the Commission in which the irregularities, the malpractices of which evidence was given, were limited virtually entirely to malpractices already covered by the Electoral laws. I do not think there is evidence in that Commission’s report—I speak under correction—of malpractices not covered by the electoral laws. This Bill goes a great deal further than that and it was interesting to me to notice when the hon. the Minister introduced it, he himself said this Bill would be applied “sover dit prakties moontlik is”. I think, Sir, he himself appreciated the difficulties. I think the fact that no prosecution will take place under this Bill otherwise than by the personal direction of the Attorney-General of the province concerned, is indicative of the fact that he realizes that this Bill is so cast that he may catch fish that he did not intend to catch at all. One has difficulties almost at once, when one starts examining the Bill. The hon. the Minister speaks in clause 1 (b) of an “agent”, and says an “agent as defined in the Electoral Act”. If that is what the hon. the Minister means, I hope it will be incorporated in the Act, because at the moment all we have is the word “agent”, which has a very different meaning from “agent” as defined in the Electoral Act.
I must admit that I am not sure of the definition of “agent” under the Electoral Act, but what is meant by an “agent” here, is “agent” in the general sense of the word. One becomes an agent, not appointed under the Electoral Act, but by somebody else, who pays one to be his agent. It is meant in the broader sense of the word.
I accept the Minister’s explanation entirely. It is not my custom to try and fight on the basis of the meaning of words. Let us agree on what it is the Minister wants to legislate about. I accept that he means then that it is an agent in the broad sense of the word, so that, for instance, if I employ a driver to fetch people to the polls, that would be an “agent” of a kind.
If one would for instance …
Order! I think this is a matter which can be discussed in the Committee Stage.
I can reply to that …
Order! I cannot allow a debate like this at this stage.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister will forgive my rudeness in remaining on my feet, but I am afraid that if I sit down I will lose my opportunity to continue.
That is one of the troubles. Then the hon. the Minister spoke of “openbare vergaderings”. The Bill says “any meeting”. It is not limited to public meetings. Is it the Minister’s intention to limit the Bill to public meetings? Because the Bill speaks here of “any meeting, gathering or assembly”. That is obviously not a public meeting.
I would just like to raise one other point while we are on this. The hon. the Minister says I admitted there was exploitation and malpractices in connection with the Coloured electorate. I think in almost every speech in which I mentioned it, I dealt with the malpractices as applying to registration and the electoral roll. But the Minister himself admits that the Bill is not watertight. I think we are going to find that in certain important respects it possibly is not watertight and perhaps in certain respects we would like to see it applied very much more strictly. My trouble with this Bill first of all is that it is so vaguely drafted that it is difficult to know how it is going to apply. The most important clause is clause 2. That deals first of all with a member of any political party. Nowhere in this Bill is a political party defined. What is a political party, Mr. Speaker? If you are a political party, must you be a party which puts up candidates at an election? And if it is a party which puts up candidates at elections, must it be at elections for the House of Assembly, or elections for the Provincial Council? Or is it sufficient that they are put up for the Coloured People’s Representative Council, the Legislative Assembly in the Transkei, or is it sufficient if you put up candidates for the municipal elections? Or can there be a political party without putting up candidates in elections, if they stand for a point of view and propagate it, make propaganda for it and try and persuade people that that is the right sort of thing to support?
Nowhere in our Constitution is a political party defined. Nowhere in the Interpretation Act is a political party defined. It is going to be very important indeed for this Bill to decide what a political party is. We may get the oddest results. We may find ourselves in the position that a political party is a party putting candidates for the Cape Town municipal elections, in which Coloureds and Europeans are both entitled to vote. How are we going to conduct those elections? This is the difficulty that exists. It seems to me that ’his essential portion of clause 2 (a) is so vague that it is virtually meaningless and it will not be possible to apply it without getting some extremely odd results. In any event we, on this side of the House, are not in favour of mixed political parties. But is there anything wrong with those who want to have them? That could do no harm in certain circumstances. Must they be ruled out altogether where people of two different groups vote in the same election for the same candidate, as still happens in certain parts of South Africa? We have the general meaning of clause 2, and for me clause 2 is incompatible with the maintenance of white leadership in South Africa. It is incompatible, and I think also it is inconsistent with a lot of the evidence which has been given before the commission which went into this matter. But it is quite clear that a large number of the Coloured organizations are still seeking white guidance, white support, white leadership. They wish to retain that leadership. Most of the witnesses that dealt with this matter seem to think that legislation of the kind envisaged here, is not possible. The Government prohibits mixed political parties under this Bill, but itself takes the right under other legislation to nominate 20 members of the Coloured People’s Representative Council.
It is the Government, not the party.
It is quite right. The hon. member says it is the Government and not the party. But for a long time this Nationalist Party has been trying to identify itself with the State. It has been trying to take power for itself as a party, power which no party should have, even if it forms the government of the country.
That is no argument at all.
The hon. Prime Minister says this is no argument at all. Of course it is no argument; he can interfere, but nobody else can. He can nominate the 20; nobody else must be allowed to participate in the elections or influence them in any way. Is that just?
Would you like the Opposition to nominate them?
The hon. the Minister says: Would you like to do this, would you like to do that? I do think those people are not going to support the Government by and large, whether they are inside or outside the party. Is this not interference of the kind we are hoping to stop?
Then we come to clause 2 (b), and we find that this clause completely prevents the implementation of the policy which the United Party, this side of the House, stands for. We stand for representation of Coloureds in this House, either by Europeans or by Coloureds. If clause 2 (b) is effective, how can a European fight for an election if he is not allowed to have a member of another group on his electoral committee, or not allowed to have a member of another group as an agent of his of any kind in the election? We stand for representation in this House of Bantu by Whites. How can they be elected if clause 2 (b) becomes law? Here is an attempt to separate into watertight compartments by means of penal legislation the politics of Whites and non-Whites in South Africa, which are affected by the same major issue, and to try and limit the means by which this House discovers what the non-Whites are thinking, through channels provided and controlled by the Government and by the Government alone.
What kind of alternative blueprint are we getting for South Africa if this legislation is applied? You can no longer have representation of non-Whites by Whites in this House or any other body where they are chosen by election. You can no longer have them working easily, if they are electing people for the same body of any political kind. We cannot accept legislation of this kind. Is the hon. the Prime Minister so afraid that he and his party will get no support from non-Whites that he must try by means of this legislation to make it impossible for Whites to participate as representatives if necessary on behalf of non-Whites in this body or any other body? What is going to be the position of the Minister of Coloured Affairs who under other legislation is going to address the Coloured Council?
Clause 2 (c) provides that:
That limits free election. But the purpose of furthering the interests of a political party is not limited to elections referred to in paragraph (b). What is the position of the Minister of Coloured Affairs when he addresses the representatives of the Coloured People’s Representative Council to further the interests of the Nationalist Party by telling them what the policy is he wants them to support. What is the position of a politician who is invited to speak at a Coloured university to set out the policy of his party? Does he fall within the ambit of this Bill? What is meant by “for the purpose of furthering the interests of a political party”? Where does it begin and where does it end? If articles are written in a newspaper furthering the interests of a political party and those articles are made available to members of an individual group by way of an address read by somebody, would that be furthering the interests of a political party? It also talks about “a gathering or assembly of persons of whom all or the greater majority belong to any other population group …” When does a majority become the greater majority? Is it the moment you have one more person than the number of persons on the other side? Is it the moment you are over 50 per cent or must it be a greater majority even than that? This Bill bristles with vagueness and difficulties which are not going to make it easy at all to interpret and apply. What is going to happen to the existing Coloured representatives? Are they going to be allowed to report back to their voters? They are not going to be allowed to address a meeting or an assembly of persons of whom all or the greater majority belong to another population group, in the interests of a political party. But they would address it in the interests of a political party and they would tell the Coloured people concerned what they think of the Government. Are they going to be prohibited in terms of this Bill from reporting back to the people who elected them for the time they still remain in this House?
There is only one who belongs to a party.
Is he going to be prohibited from reporting back to the people who elected him? Is he going to be victimized? There is nothing to stop the other Coloured representatives from joining political parties. What will happen if one joins the Nationalist Party? Will he be prohibited as well from reporting back to his voters as to why he had done so? Would he be able to do this if he changed his mind and thought that the hon. the Minister of the Interior had done him a good turn and he wanted them all in future to support the policy of the Government? He is prohibited from doing that in terms of this Bill. Is that what the hon. the Minister means? Is that what he is trying to achieve here? When you start going into this legislation, it is so vague that it is going to apply to a lot of people whom I am sure the Minister does not intend to get in his net. Secondly, it is designed to divide the people of South Africa into different watertight groups politically. Why has this been done? It is because hon. members on that side of the House find themselves incapable of applying the electoral laws in such a way as to avoid the abuses they have seen in elections in the past. That would not be impossible if they set about it in the proper way. What is the result going to be? We are not going to know what the Coloured people or the Bantu people are thinking. Our only contact with them in this House will be through the Minister of Coloured Affairs who comes here and tells us what the Coloured People’s Representative Council is thinking. If he does not want us to know what they are thinking, we will not know what they are thinking. We are not going to be allowed to address meetings to persuade them that what they are thinking is wrong. That is limited to the Minister, who can go to the Council and tell them that they are wrong. He can do that not only in the interests of the Government but in the interests of the Nationalist Party as well. This is not the kind of legislation which we on this side of the House can support, however much we are against abuses under our electoral laws, and however much we are against political parties getting financial assistance from overseas.
I come now to clause 3, which deals with the question of a political party or a member of such a party or other persons who from outside the Republic receives financial aid which is to be used for a variety of reasons or to combat any aim or principle of a political party. What do we mean by “to combat any aim or principle of a political party”? First of all I want to know what a political party is and secondly what is meant by combating any aim or principle of a political party. Does this refer to any political party? Suppose it is combating the principles of the Liberal Party or the Progressive Party. Is that what the hon. the Minister wants? What is going to happen in the case of Mr. S. E. D. Brown, editor of the S.A. Observer? It will be most interesting to try to forecast what will happen if they were to receive any assistance. We are in principle against financial aid being given from outside South Africa to political parties here.
What is a political party in your view?
The hon. member will be free to define a political party when he makes his speech. I hope he will and I am sure the hon. the Minister will be grateful for his help. I do feel that this clause is so wide that we may find churches being dragged in under it. We may find religious societies being dragged in. I am sure that that is not the intention of the Minister. I think that at the Committee Stage we must have a very careful look at this clause to see whether we must not arrange for exceptions to avoid catching bodies of that kind in this net. In the way this clause is worded at the moment it would apply to a South African citizen living outside South Africa. If I am living outside South Africa and I am a good South African knowing what a hard time the Nationalist Party has getting funds at its elections and I want to send some money to South Africa for them, I will be prohibited in terms of this clause from doing so. Is that what the hon. the Minister wants? This clause is framed in such a way that it is going to be difficult to apply. I am told by the financial experts that even framed as it is, it will not be adequate to catch the man who is determined to get money into South Africa by devious means. I therefore think that this clause must be considered very carefully.
Then I come to clause 4, which lays down penalties. In paragraph (a) it is stipulated that in the case of a first conviction, the penalty is to be a fine of not less than R300 and not more than R600, or imprisonment for a period of not less than six months or more than 12 months, or both such fine and such imprisonment, When there is a second conviction the minimum fine and term of imprisonment are, of course, higher. We have always been totally opposed to minimum sentences for legislation of this kind. Where legislation is as vague as this Bill is and with legislation where you may find yourself with results which were totally unexpected in all respects, and unwanted I believe by the hon. the Minister, then these minimum penalties are too severe. The matter should be left to the discretion of the courts. Furthermore, there is the other provision which I think can be interpreted as an admission of weakness on the part of the hon. the Minister. I refer to clause 4 (2)—
Attorneys-General are very responsible people. That being so, how in all honesty are they going to find out exactly what we intend with this legislation? How is he to decide when to institute a prosecution and when not? I think the Minister is here throwing a totally unfair burden on the Attorneys-General in South Africa.
It is the same as under any other legislation. The Attorney-General decides primarily, and the courts finally.
I defy the hon. member for Prinshof to produce another Bill as vaguely and as loosely framed as this Bill, a Bill which may mean so many other things—things which the Minister did not intend.
I have heard that argument at least three times in connection with other matters.
Let me tell the hon. the Prime Minister that if he thinks the salaries of his draftsmen should be raised, I shall support him. I know his difficulties at the present time. I know how this House waited for legislation because Bills could not be drafted in time. But if the Prime Minister says he has heard this argument on three occasions then let me tell him that it was justified on every one of those occasions, as it is on this occasion.
You never came to this House with examples.
Lastly, we find in the long title of the Bill provision to “prohibit interference by one population group in the politics of any other population group and the receipt by political parties of financial assistance from abroad”. In the short title, however, this Bill has suddenly become the “Prohibition of Improper Interference” Bill, without “improper interference” being defined anywhere. Why is there this difference? Why does the long title provide “to prohibit interference” only whereas the short title talks about “improper” interference? This Bill makes some attempt to prohibit assistance to political parties by means of funds from abroad. This we support. But otherwise this Bill is so vague and contains so many bad proposals that we on this side of the House cannot support it. It will render the application of race policies for which we stand in South Africa impossible. We believe the alternative blueprint is one that is undesirable and one which must lead to racial friction in South Africa. In the circumstances, we cannot support it.
The hon. the Leader of the Opposition made a very feeble attempt to oppose this measure. The arguments advanced by him sometimes verged on the ludicrous. He dealt with the Bill from the long title to the short title, and after having given free reins to his imagination, he intimated that he did not understand the measure. But I think that the fault lies in his not having read the Bill. In the course of his argument he brought forward points against the measure, points which in my estimation had nothing to do with the matter. Among other things he asked, What is the position of the Press in terms of this legislation? But the Press is nowhere involved in this legislation; nowhere is mention made of the Press; there is nowhere a clause or provision which gives any indication that the Press is involved. Then he also asked what the position of the Minister would be if he should have to appear before the Coloured Persons Representative Council. But this Bill is concerned with political activities, especially in elections. The Minister is not going to appear before the Coloured Persons Representative Council to talk politics. Furthermore, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said that he did not know what this legislation included, and what elections would be covered by it. “Are city council elections perhaps covered?,” he asked. But if he had looked at clause 2 (b) he would have seen to what elections this legislation is limited. In fact, each election is stipulated.
He went further and described this legislation as “in conflict with the principle of White guardianship”. But in my opinion this legislation specifically takes the principle of White guardianship into account. It takes into account the fact that the Whites can give assistance to the non-Whites from time to time as long as this happens within the framework of the legislation. It is for this very reason that clause 2 (b) provides that a minority group of non-Whites may be present at conferences and discussions, i.e. when political matters are not involved. Therefore I say that this Bill specifically takes this principle into account.
The hon. the Leader of the Opposition went further and said that the members who signed the minority report, found that it was unnecessary to have this legislation. I shall return to this later and deal with it in greater detail. I want to prove that this legislation is necessary, and that it is essential that we place it on the Statute Book. I want to begin by saying that the most important reason, virtually the central reason, why White political parties interfere in the politics of other race groups, is the political advantage which they can gain by so doing. The political gain which could be achieved in the past by Whites and White political parties being able to have candidates elected to certain councils by making use of non-White votes, was the main reason for interference and improper interference. We have examples of this throughout the political history of the Cape Province, where non-White groups have shared political rights with the White man from time to time. The most striking proof of what happened we find in the latest provincial election, when an obsolete political party, which is in disfavour with the Whites, succeeded in reaching the Cape Provincial Council on the backs of the Coloured voters. In the process scandalous malpractices were perpetrated. Now, as a result of legislation being piloted through this House, each race group will in the future be assigned to its own political institutions, and this will remove the sting, the central cause, of political interference from the political struggle. In future non-Whites will no longer be expected to vote for White candidates for Parliament and for provincial councils, and the inducement to interfere will therefore no longer exist, because the political advantage thereby achieved will not be there directly. As a result of this our task is being considerably simplified and this legislation is much simpler than the original legislation which was referred to a commission of inquiry. Experience has taught us that it is very difficult, and that a very intricate law is required, if one is faced with a situation where you expect voters in one population group to vote for candidates in another population group. Such a state of affairs requires intricate legislation and if one does not want to make the position of candidates in such an election untenable, one can hardly contrive efficient legislation. Therefore, with this obstacle out of the way, in that it will no longer be expected of one population group as voters to vote for candidates of another population group, with this sting of political interference—the greatest inducement to political interference—removed, the question may arise, as the hon. the Minister also mentioned, whether further legislation against interference is still justified. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition now says that members who signed the minority report of the commission found after deliberation that it was not necessary and that no justification existed for further legislation against interference. The hon. members who signed the minority report, came to this conclusion notwithstanding the fact that the commission was specifically appointed as a result of improper interference which existed to such a degree that a prima facie case had been made out, which was accepted by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition. It is a case which was made out, among others, by the hon. member for Peninsula, and which convinced the Opposition and this House that it was necessary, that there was sufficient reason for it, and sufficient evidence of improper interference to justify the appointment of a commission. Notwithstanding this, hon. members say that they find no justification for legislation in this connection, apart from the fact that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition now admitted in his speech that under certain circumstances, to prevent certain actions, legislation would indeed be necessary, such as the receiving of money from abroad. I should like to know how he will control it if he does not control it through legislation. Hon. members who signed the minority report say that legislation is not necessary, notwithstanding the fact that 14 of the 19 witnesses concerned admitted that there should be some or other form of control over interference. This fact was proved by the hon. member for Odendaalsrus with chapter and verse from the report and I do not want to cover the whole field to-day. I only want to refer to this. Numerous non-White organizations and non-White witnesses asked for control on a political level. They asked for it, but notwithstanding the weight of the evidence in this connection, hon. members who signed the minority report say that they find no justification for such legislation.
There are many other reasons why we find this legislation necessary. It is very clear that present legislation, including the Electoral Act, is not sufficient to combat improper interference and abuses. The hon. member said to-day that nothing is taking place which cannot be combated under the Electoral Act. The recent election which has been mentioned proved that the Electoral Act was not adequate to eliminate the malpractices. There were various convictions in the courts and people were found guilty. [Interjections.] Yes, but what did not take place which was never revealed. Many transgressors are still free and the hon. member for Umlazi knows of them. The trouble is that the United Party and the Progressive Party, who fought the last provincial election, the National Party not participating, know what went on behind the secenes. The United Party did not lift a finger to help the State bring the offenders to book. The State went out of its way and succeeded in bringing many of these people to book. The fact that so many offences took place and that the hon. member for Peninsula read out a long ream of evidence here which cries out to high heaven and which even paled those hon. members with shame, is clear proof to us that the existing legislation is not sufficient to deal with these matters.
Can the hon. member give us an example where somebody could not be prosecuted or found guilty under the Electorial Law?
If the hon. member would make inquiries at the local electoral office, the head official would furnish him with all cases which could not succeed in the courts through lack of evidence, but where there were obvious offences. We want to concede that abuses can indeed be combated to a degree under the Electorial Act. One can make the Electoral Act even stricter so that it may have a firmer grip on these people committing the abuses. One can even attempt to control the handling of money during an election under the Electoral Act which was in fact attempted in the past, although I must admit that it was a failure. We all know that the Electoral Act in the past provided that returns of election costs had to be submitted. It was a farce, and could not be done properly. However, I say that a person can try to do it in terms of the Electoral Act, but the question of interference cannot be controlled in terms of the Electoral Act and legislation is necessary for that. It is merely a question of whether we tolerate interference or whether we do not. If one does not want it, there must be legislation. It is a matter of principle, i.e. whether interference in the politics of one race group by another should be tolerated. It is a matter of principle and the National Party supports the principle that there should not be interference. This is the basic difference between the National Party and the United Party. If the National Party’s policy of separate development is accepted, there must be a law prohibiting malpractices such as these, namely mixed political parties, agents and mixed election committees. This is what the National Party believes. However, the United Party does not believe in this. They are accustomed to mixed political parties, and history is full of examples of political integration on the part of the Opposition. In their day they did not only have a mixed membership of Whites and Coloureds within the same political party; in certain constituencies they had branches with Bantu members, Indian members, Coloured members and White members, when the Bantu were still on the voters’ roll.
Where was that?
Now the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and his party associates come forward quite piously and say that they are not in favour of mixed political parties, but they are accustomed to it and are therefore still pleading for it to-day.
You cannot mention a single example.
They are accustomed to mixed election committees.
Through all the years. That hon. member knows nothing about that because he does not reside in these parts. It is so and no hon. member on that side who has knowledge of these matters will deny that they had mixed election committees in virtually every constituency in the Cape Province to canvass for the Coloured vote. Sir, this was not only the case in the past; it is still the case to-day. In purely White elections everywhere in the Peninsula, of which I have experience, one finds vehicles at each ballot box with non-White drivers fetching voters for the United Party. They are therefore accustomed to this sort of thing; to us it is objectionable. But, what is more, at the most recent election the election committee of the hon. member for Salt River included a large number of Coloureds who constituted his office staff—Coloured women and Coloured men. The hon. member for South Coast does not want to believe me; he is gaping. Sir, the United Party is accustomed to political integration and it is still happening to-day. Therefore they find it strange for us to want to make an end to this kind of political integration. But we cannot tolerate it. Mr. Speaker, I leave the matter there. I think that I have given sufficient proof of the present position.
I want to go further and say that it is necessary that the non-White population groups should be granted the opportunity of controlling and attending to their own political affairs. They want this; they have asked for it. They do not want interference. [Interjections.] Yes, they have asked for it; that hon. member knows nothing about it. He is like a Rip van Winkel; he is living in another century. I say that the non-Whites do not want interference. It is quite apparent from the report. Fourteen of the 19 witnesses concerned said that they did not want interference. I should also just like to quote from a few cuttings (translation)—
Here I have another cutting (translation)—
Here is another cutting from Die Banier of December, 1964—
There was a debate in the Coloured Advisory Board and that was the consensus of opinion there. The members of the Board said that there should be control of interference by Whites in their politics. Tom Schwartz, the leader of the Federale Kleurlingparty said—
Sir, I say the Coloureds do not want the Whites and the White political parties to interfere in their affairs. Since we are now entrusting greater political powers and high-level control over their own affairs to the Coloured population groups to an increasing extent and since these political institutions which we are creating are actually political training schools for many of them because they are lacking in knowledge in this regard and because these institutions cover ground which they have not previously traversed, we must encourage them to strive towards political maturity and to develop according to their own choice. It only leads to racial discord and strife and ill-feeling amongst the various race groups if one race group is allowed to interfere in the politics of another. The hon. members for Orange Grove and Bezuidenhout know how we Whites were disappointed at the United Party because throughout the years they dragged the non-Whites into the quarrels of the Whites. The hon. member for Orange Grove has condemned it more than any member on this side of the House. He took photographs of how the hon. member for Sea Point carried the non-Whites in his arms into the polling booths. It was objectionable to us; it aroused racial discord. We must save the Coloureds and the other race groups these things of which we have had this bitter experience. We must prevent the Whites from once again causing offence by interfering in the political disputes of non-White groups. We have the experience and we owe it to the non-White groups—they expect it of us—to offer them this protection.
The main reason why we must have this legislation is that we must be in a position to deal with Whites who have false motives and therefore interfere in the politics of the non-Whites. History has taught us that we have leftist elements in this country, elements which are activated by White capital and White brains, which will stop at nothing to bring about the downfall of White civilization in this country and which will try anything to disturb the peace and order and to cause ill-feeling between Whites and non-Whites. Nothing is too base for them; they will not hesitate for one moment to try and make these political groups and these political institutions the instruments for their dirty work. They have already tried to do that dirty work in the Transkei and we would be fools to be under any illusion that they would not also try to do it in the case of the other non-White national groups which are now receiving their own political institutions. This legislation must be a deterrent to them in advance. Let them be warned. In terms of this Act we shall deal ruthlessly with those who envisage the possibility of making these non-White political institutions the instruments for doing their dirty work in South Africa. There are many people who would want these institutions which we are giving to the non-White group not to serve their purpose; they would put any spoke in the wheel to have them fail because they do not endorse the principle of separate development. Many people are bent on trying to create racial discord and racial tension in South Africa at all times. There are evildoers who would try in any way possible to disturb the peace and order in South Africa. Let them all take cognizance of this legislation. The National Party will not tolerate such improper interference and such undermining, and if this legislation does not make sufficient provision for dealing with these people, then this House and this party will not hesitate for a single moment to take more drastic measures and greater powers for combating these evils among the various race groups.
Sir, if the hon. member for Parow demonstrated anything in his peroration, I think it was that my hon. leader was right when he said that hon. members opposite tend to equate the Government and the Nationalist Party. But this hon. member went even further. He even made this House part of that same process. The hon. member unfortunately did not have all his facts right. He said that we had in the United Party mixed election committees and mixed branches. He is wrong.
You had them.
But one can understand the hon. member being wrong about what happens in the United Party, but it is very difficult to understand how the hon. member can get up and make a bald statement of fact to the effect that there are certain malpractices which cannot be dealt with by the existing electoral laws or by an amendment to those laws. He says that, and when the hon. member for Umlazi asked him to give an example, he said: If you want to know, go and ask the chief electoral officer.
Oh no, I gave examples.
The hon. member did not; he said we should ask the official concerned. But on page 49 of the report of the Commission of which the hon. member was a member, he says that he has had no complaints of this nature which, as far as he, the electoral officer, is concerned, cannot be dealt with by the existing legislation. But the hon. member says that we must go and ask him, and this is his answer. Is it then not a fact that whatever the complaints are that the hon. member has about these malpractices, they can be dealt with by an amendment to the existing electoral process or by the existing laws?
What about interference?
Now the hon. member talks about interference. What is interference? Here we have a Bill talking about interference, but there is no definition of interference at all, and what the hon. member will call interference and what I may call interference may be two different things. But what the hon. member calls interference is in many respects what I would call some sort of meaningful contact with another race, what I would call dialogue with another race, what I would perhaps call consultation with another race group, or what I would call just making myself informed as to the feelings and the thoughts of another race group. But that would not occur to the hon. member for Parow or other hon. members opposite. They have deliberately pushed aside any form of contact or consultation with other race groups, and they are prepared, as my leader has indicated, to have all their contacts through the Minister, who will seek them through his Department.
The hon. member had the impertinence to say that my hon. leader had not read the Bill, and he had the impertinence to say that some of the arguments of my hon. leader bordered on the absurd. One of the examples my leader gave was that of a Coloured Representative. Take the example of the hon. member for Karoo. We have just had the second reading of a Bill which now makes it lawful for the hon. member for Karoo to stay in this House until the dissolution of this Parliament. Let us assume that this Parliament will run its normal course until 1971. In terms of their own statute, he is by law a member of this House, a lawful representative of the coloured people, elected as a United Party member, and elected on the United Party platform. Now we have the extraordinary position that he commits an offence if he goes back and reports to his constituency what he as their representative elected under the United Party banner has done for them during this Session. What an extraordinary position!
How lucky he is!
There you have it, “How lucky he is!”. In other words, here is an hon. member who is prepared to accept that he is lucky in that he need not go and do his duty. [Interjections.] But one must agree that it is quite absurd to have a situation like this.
To which clause are you referring?
I am referring to clause 2 (c). The hon. Minister may not have read it, but it says that no person who belongs to one population group may address any meeting, gathering or assembly of persons of whom all or the greater majority belong to another population group or groups for the purpose of furthering the interests of a political party or the candidature of a person who has been nominated.
He can still tell them what happened in Parliament, but he cannot canvass support for any political party.
Has the hon. the Minister ever known anyone having to report back to his constituency without flying his own banner also? The hon. member was elected under the United Party banner, and he goes back to report, not only as their member but also as a member of the United Party. He goes back to tell them what he has done here, and what he has done as a member of the United Party is to oppose this Government, and he tells them why he, as a member of the United Party, did what he did, and in so doing he furthers the interests of the United Party. [Interjections.]
If he tells them that one party or another, an existing non-White party, is fostering the objectives of the United Party and he says he asks them to support that party, then he is interfering but otherwise not.
If the hon. the Minister had read this Bill, he would not say such things. If that is his intention, I suggest that he look at the Bill once again. That is not what the Bill says. It is not merely a report-back meeting; there are other matters, too. If the hon. member for Karoo goes back and consults with certain people, there is a gathering. What is a “gathering” in law? It is not defined in this Bill, but it was mentioned in the Suppression of Communism Act and it was then interpreted by the courts as a meeting consisting of more than two people. If the hon. member goes and consults the people, who is to say he is not furthering the interests of the United Party, because he is here as a member of the United Party, elected on our platform? This is nonsense, Sir. But I want to go further. The hon. the Minister, when he replied to the second reading of the Bill we have just dealt with dealing with the separate representation of voters, said that the Senators who were nominated in terms of section 29 (2) (b) of the Constitution were going to remain. I want to remind the Minister of what that section says. It says—
Not a channel, but the channel—
How can he promote their interests? This seems to divert a little from the principles the Minister has enunciated, but here we have the situation that they are going to remain and that the Coloureds’ interests will be promoted through the Senate, and not through this House because their representatives here will go. But how can these people ever promote the interests of the coloured people if they do not meet them, if they do not hold a meeting of coloured people, and address them, and invite questions?
But their interests need not be those of a political party.
I am coming to that. They are all nominated, and so they are all Nationalists.
The hon. member is really naive. Has there ever been anyone appointed to the Senate by this Nationalist Party who was not a Nationalist except one, who was a Communist? Apart from the one that was a Communist and whom the Nationalist Party nominated, namely, Senator Petterson, every other one was a Nationalist. This is part of the deal. Of course he is.
I thought you were talking of Senator Berman, also a Communist in the United Party.
That is a nasty thing to say. [Interjections.] This is the sort of thing one can expect from the hon. the Minister.
I would say this for the hon. gentleman about whom this hon. Minister is talking, which will distinguish him from this hon. Minister; he has some brains.
Just like you.
How are these men going to promote the interests of the coloured people if they do not ever have a meeting and they are going to be Nationalists? There is no exception and there never has been an exception. The hon. the Minister and other hon. gentlemen will no doubt rely upon the fact that everything in the end depends upon the Attorney-General. Everyone who addresses a meeting will commit an offence. Every Commissioner-General who talks to a gathering of Bantu is going to commit an offence under this Act. What else are they doing except telling them what the Government’s policy is. What is Government policy if it is not in fact the policy of the Nationalist Party? This is what they have been saying all the time. Is this not exactly what it is all about? And so he commits an offence. The hon. member for Karoo is going to commit an offence. When the Minister talks to the Coloured Affairs Council he will commit an offence. When the Secretary talks to the Coloured Affairs Council he will commit an offence. When in fact the regional representatives talk to gatherings of these people about the implementation of the Government’s policy, they will be committing an offence under this Bill. But they will not be prosecuted, because that is in the discretion of the Attorney-General. When the Attorney-General decides whether to prosecute or not, he is going to have, as my hon. Leader said, some difficulty. But if the Attorney-General does not want to prosecute, then there is still something else this Government can do, because the hon. the Minister of Justice can tell him to prosecute. There is no denial from the hon. member for Prinshof.
You are reflecting on the Attorney-General.
No, I am not reflecting on him at all. What I am saying, is that if the Attorney-General does not want to prosecute or feels he should not prosecute, the Minister may nevertheless prosecute. I am not reflecting on the Attorney-General. The Minister has the power, and let me read it to the hon. member. In terms of section 5 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Act “Every Attorney-General shall exercise the authority and perform his functions under this Act, or under any other law, subject to the control and direction of the Minister, who may reverse any decision arrived at by an Attorney-General and may himself in general or in any specific matter exercise any part of such authority and perform any such function”.
How many times has that occurred?
It is when one gets legislation like this that that power is likely to be exercised. What sort of stuff is this for an Attorney-General? The Attorney-General is concerned with the commission of offences; he is concerned with law and order. He is concerned with unlawful matters; he is not concerned with nonsensical, political, Alice-in-Wonderland stuff like this. The Attorney-General is, as my hon. Leader said, going to have great difficulty in interpreting what it is that the legislature is getting at. He is going to have great difficulty, for the simple reason that he is a lawyer and there are hardly any terms here which are defined. There is the situation that in fact, as I have said, all those examples that I gave are offences under this Act. The Attorney-General will not prosecute. And if he does prosecute, and he does prosecute a Nationalist or someone who is postulating and furthering Nationalist Party policy, or the Government’s policy, I wonder whether perhaps his colleagues might not persuade the hon. the Minister to exercise his powers.
Now you are talking a lot of nonsense. You are talking absolute nonsense.
You say that is quite impossible?
I think it is quite impossible. Mention one case in 20 years’ time.
I agree it is very unlikely, it is almost laughable to think that a Commissioner-General would be prosecuted for addressing a group of Bantu.
Of course it is laughable.
Of course it is. It is laughable to think that that would happen because it would make this Bill even more laughable than it is. The fact of the matter is this. He does in fact commit an offence. What about all the other people who obviously are not going to be prosecuted. What about the hon. member for Karoo who will commit that offence? How does he know he is not going to be prosecuted? How does he know? That is exactly the point. The object of this is to frighten people away from having any contact with any group of non-White people or any organization of non-White people, to frighten them away because they would in fact commit an offence and they would have to get the “O.K.” beforehand from the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General is not in a position to give an “O.K.” beforehand. This does not happen. A person does not go to the Attorney-General and say, “Look, I am about to commit an offence, can you please give me a clearance?”. This does not happen. It is after an offence has been committed that the Attorney-General exercises his discretion. So one cannot have any contact of a political nature with any organization of non-White people unless one has the permission of the Government, unless one gets it either ex post facto or before the event. You have to get permission first. So the only White people who will be able to exercise any influence on the non-Whites will be the Government or the Nationalist Party or someone supporting the principles of that party. That is the only contact there is going to be. In clause 2 (c) one sees a complete abandonment of the right of anyone else in this country, except the Nationalist Party, to exercise the minds of the non-White people as to their thinking in this country. For clause 2 (c) prevents in effect any dialogue whatsoever or exchange of ideas between race groups, except, as I say, through the aegis of a Government agency. This is probably what is called “political separation”. Even Parliament in terms of the new pattern of things is to be entirely excluded from having any contact with the representatives of the non-White people. When the Coloured representatives are gone, Parliament is not going to be able to hear their views and decide upon them. They are going to go through the hon. the Minister and the Minister will report that which he wants.
Where do you see that?
That is not in this Bill, that is in the Bill that was dealt with before, but it is part of the same pattern. I want to go further. Officials will address these various gatherings, they will be obliged to address these gatherings, and they are obliged when they talk to them to tell them what Government policy is. That is their job, they are employed by the Government. That is what they are going to get and that is part of the very object of the Bill that we have. Is it really necessary for this Government to enforce its policy to cut off all dialogue whatsoever between Whites and non-Whites in this country, except through the Government? Is this really what they want? Let us take a gathering. Take again clause 2 (c). What is a gathering, referred to in that clause? If the interpretation of the Suppression of Communism Act is given to it, and there is no reason why it should not be, then it is a small group of two or three people. Now, how often have hon. members not been approached during the recess by non-White people? How often has one not been asked to go and address a non-White ratepayers’ association which is in one’s constituency? How often has there not been a gathering of non-White people who have come to one to complain about something? [Interjections.]
They do not know about things like that.
I am going to tell them. In my constituency I have a ratepayers’ association of Indians who are in a terrible state as far as telephones are concerned. They want to know what can be done and one has to deal with them. They live in my constituency. Who else can they go to?
Is that furthering the interests of a political party?
Oh, wait a minute! Then there is the Group Areas Act. One has to do something about that very often. May I not be said, in addressing some of these gatherings, to be furthering the interests of a political party? The hon. gentleman over there would think I was. Look how suspicious the hon. member is that this happens. He has never heard of it. He has never heard of anyone talking to non-Whites. He is very suspicious. I want to go further. The hon. member for Umhlatuzana has shared with me several times a platform before a non-White audience. He has been asked to express the views of the Nationalist Party and I have been invited to express the views of the United Party on whatever it may be. I think it is a very good thing that they should hear all the points of view.
My hon. Leader has spoken about compartments, and I want to say this Bill believes that one can put into separate compartments the different race groups in this country. So far as politics are concerned, one can have different politics in the various communal councils of these people, in the Coloured Council, in the Indian Council. I will agree that the matters in the Indian Council are matters which concern Indians only and therefore are their own affairs. The ones in the Coloured Council would concern their own interests. But here in this House we legislate for everyone. This is the sovereign Parliament, and there is no such thing here as different politics. There is no such thing as the Coloureds having different politics from the Whites or the Indians or the Bantu—they are all politics, they are all the exercise of power, here by the majority party in this House. One cannot talk about different politics in one place which ultimately determines the destinies of all those people. I go so far as to say that the Opposition and the Opposition members have a right to know what non-Whites think, to know the effect of Government thinking on them, and to know what effect their own thinking has as an alternative Government. Surely this is part of the democratic process. We should have the right to know what they think, we should have the right to be able to ask them, because we should have the right to try and persuade them that in fact our path is one which they could well support. Especially is this true of members of Parliament and members of this Opposition since this last Bill has passed its second reading. The last vestiges of any representation by the non-White people is to disappear, and where are we to consult them, how are we to know what they think; except by some form of dialogue outside this House. But no we cannot have that either.
The hon. member can go and listen to the Council meetings.
The hon. member for Prinshof is an advocate. Has he not read that Act? Surely he knows that the matters they are going to discuss are entirely matters that concern the Coloured people or the Indian people, matters that do not concern anyone else. [Interjections.] How does one ask and know what they think about matters that we deal with here? They are two completely different matters. I am not allowed to do so. I ask the hon. member opposite to pick up all the Bills on his desk and he will find every single one affects Coloureds and every single one will affect Indians.
My time is up, but before I sit down I do want to say this. This Bill demonstrates the lack of confidence that this Government has in its own policy. When you have got to the stage that this Government can introduce a Bill like this, together with the one that went before it, I think it demonstrates they have no confidence at all that the development that will take place, and is taking place, is either natural, traditional, national, or even desirable, and it demonstrates a complete lack of faith. We are confident that we do not need this sort of legislation in order to govern this country. Why do they fear the future, why is it necessary, why is there this fear? It is because they know it cannot work, and so they have to force it to work, and they are going to force it to work with measures such as this. It does not do us any good. We have heard a lot about tarnishing the image of South Africa by saying various things. The introduction of this Bill will do us more harm outside this country than anything else. [Interjections.]
When will you even learn?
Yes, they have heard it from us many times, and they will go on hearing it …
They were going to be placed back on the common roll, and you gave that up too. We heard that too.
The hon. the Minister was probably one of the people that said it. This is where it all goes. As soon as the Government gets into trouble, it legislates. Chop this off, chop that off, and then in the end, try and force the thing through. Measures such as this they force through, a measure which one can describe only as totalitarian. We cannot possibly accept it.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Durban (North) found it very difficult to oppose the essence of the Bill, so he was looking around and seeking points here and there with which to criticize the Bill. But I am afraid he was not very successful. He mentioned a few points, and I will deal with them. He mentioned the nominated senators, for example, and said if they hold meetings with Coloureds then they will be contravening this measure. In all the history of this Parliament, as far as I know, no Senator has ever addressed meetings of, for instance, Coloureds in order to ascertain their views. It happened neither during the United Party’s time nor under the Nationalist Party regime. It just did not happen. Then the hon. member was much concerned about the hon. member for Karoo. He said he would not be able to address his constituents. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent this hon. member from reporting back to his constituents, and the hon. member for Durban (North) missed the point, namely the meeting to be illegal must be held for the purpose of furthering the interests of a political party or a candidate. Of course, the hon. member will not be furthering his own candidature because he cannot be a candidate. I cannot see what the United Party will want to do with the Coloureds because that party is also excluded in this respect in the next elections. If they addressed a non-White gathering then, it would not be for furthering their interests, although it might be incidental. The law will not hold that they went to the meeting for that purpose. The same applies when the hon. the Minister or officials address these Councils. They will not go there for the purpose of furthering the interests of any political party or any candidate, so that question does not arise. The same applies to a ratepayers’ association meeting. So practically all points raised by the hon. member fall away. [Interjections.]
I will deal now with the speech made by the hon. Leader of the Opposition. He did the same thing, because he tried to raise all possible points that could be raised during the Committee stage, and he also evaded the main principle of the Bill. He was trying to draw a red herring across the trail. I will deal with a few matters dealt with by the hon. Leader.
The first point raised by him was what is an agent? An agent is defined in the dictionary as “a person appointed to act on or on behalf of any other person”. The meaning is clear and it was not necessary to raise that matter here.
Do you mean an election agent?
No, I mean any agent. An agent is a person appointed by another person to act for and on his behalf.
The next question he asked, is what is a political party? I am content to let the courts decide that. We all know what a political party is, and no doubt the courts will know what a political party is. The court can decide for itself.
The next point raised by the hon. member was that the Government will nominate 20 members, and he said that constitutes undue interference. The 20 members will be appointed, not elected, but the hon. Leader wanted to know why should the Government be able to nominate 20 members whilst the other parties cannot participate. It is because the Government does not enter into elections, and during elections the harm is done to race relations.
The hon. Leader also alleged that the hon. the Minister would not be able to address a Council because he would be raising political matters in the Council. The same point was raised by the hon. member for Durban (North). This will not contravene the Bill, because he does not go there for the purpose of furthering the interests of any political party.
Another point raised by the hon. member was what constitutes “the greater majority” of those present. We can also safely leave that to the courts to decide. The courts have frequently in the past had to deal with points of that nature.
Then the hon. Leader dealt with the question of money received from abroad. He stated this particular clause was too widely worded. He said his party was also opposed to money being received from abroad. I should like the hon. Leader to give us a better wording to deal with the situation which we want to guard against. We on this side will be glad to hear of a better way of phrasing it. Although the hon. Leader said the wording was too wide, he said that even so the prohibition could be circumvented.
Then the hon. Leader mentioned their main objection to the Bill, and what they object to is really the essence of the Bill. He said: If this measure is passed the United Party will not be able to proceed with its policy of having Coloured representatives being elected to this Parliament or of Whites representing Coloureds or Bantu in this Parliament. That is their main objection to this Bill. I concede that point. If this Bill is passed it will not be possible to have the groups mentioned represented in this Parliament.
I now wish to make a few remarks in general. Since Union the interference by European groups in the political activities of other racial groups has been taking place. All these years this interference was proper interference as Whites represented the different racial groups in Parliament. These Europeans were members of White political parties. Unfortunately this position was the constant cause of friction resulting in discord among the various races.
That was proper interference.
I said so. The interference was proper because the Whites represented the non-Whites in Parliament. With the passing of time we found, however, that the nature of this interference changed its character and it developed into improper interference because of sordid methods used by some European political parties to further the prospects of their respective candidates. The position deteriorated to such an extent that even the representatives of the Coloured community unanimously recommended a commission of inquiry into the whole question of representation in Parliament. With the abolition of Coloured representation in Parliament and the creation of separate political institutions, the whole basis of even proper interference by one group in the political affairs of another, should of necessity disappear. If we should allow interference, would it be fair, for example, to the Coloureds?
Business interrupted in accordance with Standing Order No. 23 and debate adjourned.
The House adjourned at