House of Assembly: Vol47 - FRIDAY 15 FEBRUARY 1974
Bill read a First Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
The purpose of the Bill now before the House is to ask Parliament to make provision for the financing of Government expenditure from 1 April 1974 until such time as it will be possible to pass the Appropriation Act for the 1974–’75 financial year. This Act will be dealt with in the second session and it is therefore necessary to make provision for approximately seven months’ expenditure. Of the amount of R2 743 243 000 required, R2 030 622 000 is chargeable to Revenue Account, R667 955 000 to Loan Account and R44 666 000 to the South-West Africa Account.
I want to point out to hon. members that Government expenditure shows considerable fluctuations from month to month and that these figures should not be used for making deductions as regards the possible total expenditure for the financial year 1974–’75. As is customary, the money may only be spent on services for which statutory provision exists or which have already been approved by Parliament.
Since I shall not present a full Budget during this session of Parliament, it will be appropriate for me to offer some remarks on the economic and financial situation. I have also one or two announcements to make which will be of interest to the House.
The year 1973 was basically a good year for the South African economy. The only major exception was the farming sector, which suffered severely from drought in the earlier part of the year. I am thankful that, during the current season, nearly all parts of the country have enjoyed favourable weather conditions, so that we may look forward to a good agricultural year in 1974.
Nearly all other sectors of the economy showed a welcome growth during the past year, and the rate of growth accelerated as the year progressed. Of particular importance was the revival in gross domestic fixed investment in the third quarter of 1973.
Other economic indicators confirm the upsurge in economic activity. Over the eleven months to November 1973 the index of the physical volume of manufacturing production was 9,3% higher than in the corresponding period of 1972, and the physical volume of mining production, other than gold, 14,5% higher. Output per manhour in manufacturing industry was, I am glad to say, 4% higher during the first 10 months of 1973 than in the corresponding period of the previous year. The volume of retail sales, i.e. at constant prices, was 4,4% higher over the same period. The number of registered unemployed Whites, Coloureds and Asians declined to a low level.
As I predicted during the last session of Parliament, the rate of increase in the consumer price index declined substantially during the second and third quarters of 1973. Unfortunately, sharp increases in the prices of vegetables and petroleum products in the fourth quarter caused this trend to be reversed, so that over the 12 months to December 1973 the index rose by approximately 10%—certainly not a satisfactory figure, though by no means out of line with price increases in other countries.
The balance of payments showed some interesting developments during the past year. As expected, the accelerated growth in the economy, together with rising prices overseas, led to a substantial increase in the value of imports. Merchandise exports, however, continued to rise, while the value of net gold production showed a very marked increase as a result of the notable rise in the price of gold on the private market. It is gratifying that South Africa’s long struggle for a realistic gold price should at last be rewarded. At least over the first three quarters of the year, therefore, the balance of payments showed a substantial surplus on current account.
On capital account, however, the picture was very different. From the second quarter of 1973 onward, South Africa experienced a net outflow of capital, and during the fourth quarter this outflow became very substantial indeed. The outflow was associated in the first instance with the very high interest rates abroad and with the availability of domestic funds at relatively moderate rates; this led to an increase in the financing of foreign transactions from local rather than foreign sources and to large repayments of foreign loans by the Government, amounting in the third quarter to R68 million.
Towards the end of 1973 the outflow was reinforced by some speculation against the rand, for example, through leads and lags in payments for imports and exports respectively and through a reduction in the inflow of foreign capital. This speculation was, I regret to say, fanned by some rather ill-informed press comment, and I feel that some further remarks on this subject are necessary.
It will be recalled that, during the earlier part of 1973, the United States dollar which, for convenience, is the currency in which the Reserve Bank quotes the exchange rates of the rand, was weak in relation to many other currencies, with the result that the rand also tended to depreciate in terms of these latter currencies. In the later months of 1973 and early 1974, however, the dollar strengthened substantially, according to some estimates by as much as 14%. In consequence the rand appreciated considerably in terms of many other currencies. In fact, in terms of currencies in general, weighted in proportion to their relative importance in South Africa’s foreign transactions, the effective exchange rate of the rand at the end of 1973 was 2,9% above its level before the devaluation of December 1971.
In consequence the impression has been created that the rand is over-valued and is a candidate for devaluation. This is a superficial conclusion. The adverse turn in the balance of payments since the middle of 1973 was, as I have shown, primarily due to the much higher interest rates prevailing overseas and to the availability of domestic funds, and much of the resulting capital outflow can be expected to return in due course, especially if, as is likely, interest rates abroad should decline from their high level.
The rand is, in fact, still a strong currency. Only a few months ago we were able to accept the obligations of article 8 of the International Monetary Fund Agreement, which brings the rand into line with the currencies of the major industrial countries of the world. Nothing that has happened since then has materially affected the basic strength of the rand or the South African economy—indeed in some respects, its relative strength may well have increased, as I shall presently explain.
During the past few weeks the rising trends of the dollar in relation to other currencies has been checked, and this has helped to relieve the pressure on the rand.
A further consequence of the appreciation of the rand in terms of other currencies in the second half of last year was that the rand value of South Africa’s holdings of foreign exchange, other than dollars, was further reduced.
The net result of all these forces was that the value of the gold and other foreign reserves of the Reserve Bank, after reaching a peak of R1 268 million at the end of July 1973, declined to R1 080 million at the end of September and then to R796 million at the end of December. Since then the rate of decline has diminished considerably and last Friday the reserves stood at R783 million.
It should always be remembered, of course, that in these figures the Reserve Bank’s gold holdings are valued at the statutory price of R29-55 per ounce. If the gold were valued at a more realistic figure closer to the market price, the total foreign reserves of the Reserve Bank would amount to well over R1 800 million.
The net outflow of capital during the later months of 1973 was only made possible by a very large increase in domestic bank credit. A reasonable expansion of credit is natural and correct during an upsurge in economic activity, and in accordance with their policy of encouraging growth the authorities were glad to see such an expansion. In the past few months, however, bank credit has undoubtedly played an important part in financing the “leads and lags” in foreign payments and thus contributing to the fall in the reserves. Over the year 1973, bank credit to the private sector rose by R1 600 million, or over 40%, and in December alone the increase was approximately R200 million or about 4%—hardly a “credit squeeze”.
The combination of credit expansion and capital outflow naturally placed the liquidity of the banks under considerable pressure, so that they were forced to turn to the Reserve Bank for accommodation. In order not to discourage growth the Reserve Bank did in fact assist the banks and discount houses very substantially, while the Public Debt Commissioners also made call loans to the discount houses to an amount of R100 million. On 31 January the total amount of accommodation extended to banks and discount houses reached the enormous figure of R551 million. The expansion of Reserve Bank credit is illustrated by the increase in its domestic discounts, advances and investments from R305 million on 26 January 1973 to R759 million a year later—a rise of nearly 150%.
Clearly, credit expansion of this order could not continue without serious consequences for the economy. A more conservative monetary policy became essential. On 14 January, therefore, the Reserve Bank, after full consultation with the Treasury, raised the bank rate by 1% and made corresponding adjustments to the maximum deposit rates and to its pattern of interest rates for Government stocks.
This action was an unavoidable response to market forces and does not represent any change in the policy of stimulating economic growth. On the contrary, a policy of cheap money and an unbridled expansion of bank credit would have intensified inflation and accelerated the deterioration of the balance of payments; this would eventually have undermined confidence in the rand and in South Africa’s economic stability and would have destroyed the foundation for lasting growth.
I now turn to the prospects for 1974. The situation in South Africa and in the world is of course strongly influenced by the oil crisis. Much uncertainty still prevails regarding both the supply and the price of petroleum products, and it is difficult to venture any forecasts for the year ahead. At its worst, the crisis could certainly have an extremely serious effect on the balances of payments of the industrial countries and of the non-oil-producing developing countries, and could very materially reduce the pace of economic growth in these countries. The non-oil-exporting, developing countries alone could, according to some estimates face a total current-account deficit of $23 billion this year, as compared with an annual average of $10 billion in the 1970–’73 period—clearly an alarming prospect.
South Africa will inevitably be affected, both directly and indirectly, by developments in this field. At least in relative terms, however, our position is not unfavourable. Firstly, South Africa is much less dependent on oil as a source of energy than most other countries. About one-quarter of our energy requirements is derived from petroleum, as compared with about one-half in Britain and Germany and three-quarters in Japan. Secondly, although some of our exports would certainly be adversely affected if a serious recession were to develop overseas, we seem to be assured of a good agricultural season and a high level of agricultural exports, while the prospects for gold appear better than ever. This is what 1 meant when I said earlier that the relative strength of the rand in relation to other currencies may well increase. Certain other important currencies, such as the French franc, have already weakened since the beginning of this year.
One of the main effects of the oil crisis will be its effect on our price level. We have already had to permit a substantial rise in the price of petrol, and this increase would have been appreciably greater if the Government had not agreed to absorb part of the burden. Moreover, this increase must eventually work through to the prices of many other products. The cost of imported goods must also be affected by increases in oil prices in other countries and increased freight charges.
Even in respect of prices, however, the picture is not completely dark. As I indicated earlier, one of the major factors in the increase in the consumer price index in 1973 was the substantial rise in food prices. The favourable weather conditions with which South Africa has recently been blessed allow us to hope that this steep increase will not be repeated in 1974. Since food has a large weight in the consumer price index, this could have a significant moderating effect on the increase in the index this year.
Nevertheless, inflation remains a serious problem for South Africa as for other countries. It is, in fact, an international problem, and one which might well have received greater attention from international bodies such as the IMF. Even in South Africa, action against inflation is not the responsibility of the Government alone; every citizen of South Africa, whether as employer, employee or consumer, can and should make his contribution.
As regards employees, it is fair to point out that the average earnings of South African workers have increased in greater proportion than the consumer price index, so that the average employee has been more than compensated for the rise in prices. Average earnings per employee, as corrected for the rise in the consumer price index, rose by about 2½% per annum on the average over the past four years. Nevertheless, I believe that South African workers should be commended for the restraint and responsibility which they have evinced in wage negotiations in recent years. In their own interest and in the interests of the whole country, it is important that they should continue to follow a responsible policy in this connection.
Profits in trade and industry have shown a marked increase during the past two years. To some extent this substantial increase must be seen against the background of the abnormally low increases of the previous two years and the more effective use of productive capacity in 1973. The question does arise, however, whether private business is in all cases making an adequate contribution to the struggle against inflation by exercising sufficient restraint in marking up prices. This question is particularly relevant in an economy such as ours where, in some fields of activity, a few very large organizations play a dominant role and where competition is sometimes far from perfect. My colleague, the Minister of Economic Affairs, is constantly giving attention to this matter in terms of the Regulation of Monopolistic Conditions Act, but I should also like to call upon private business to avoid wherever possible, in the national interest, excessive price increases.
The consumer can also make his contribution. He can do this by buying with discretion and discrimination and saving with prudence, by avoiding the excessive use of hire purchase and other form of consumer credit, and by refusing to be moved by advertisements of the “Buy now before prices go up” type. Naturally, if everyone follows the advice of such advertisements, prices will go up, but then no one will be better off except, perhaps, the advertiser concerned.
The Government for its part, will continue to make its contribution to the struggle against inflation. Perhaps its most significant contribution is to maintain the maximum degree of monetary stability in South Africa. There are, however, one or two other measures which the Government can take; these I shall announce presently.
I should like to make some remarks on the discussions on international monetary reform which have been proceeding in the forum of the International Monetary Fund during the past eighteen months. As the House will recall, a Committee of Twenty Governors of the IMF was appointed to study this whole question. South Africa is represented on this committee as an associate member. At the annual meeting of the Fund in Nairobi last year, the committee presented an interim report in the shape of an “Outline of Reform”, which however, was remarkable more for the number of issues left unresolved than for the points on which agreement had been reached.
Last month the Committee of Twenty met again in Rome. The meeting was held in the shadow of the oil crisis, but this was, I believe, not the only reason for the strong impression created that the movement for reform is faltering if not foundering. The inability or unwillingness of the Americans and the Europeans to agree on some basic issues is certainly an important factor. But I think the world should face up to the fact that the proposals for reform which have been under discussion for more than a year are too theoretical and idealistic and insufficiently based on a firm foundation of experience and practice. We have, at these meetings, endeavoured to inject a note of realism into the discussions, but unfortunately with only limited success. Only now is it coming to be realized and accepted that the world is not yet ready to base the international monetary system on a paper standard such as Special Drawing Rights. The oil crisis has merely served to highlight this hard fact.
It will be no source of satisfaction to South Africa if the movement for international monetary reform should become bogged down, for as a trading nation we have a strong interest in international monetary stability. But at least it is becoming clearer by the day that the world is not yet in a position to do without gold as a monetary metal, and is unlikely to be so for many years to come. While we may still have to wait some time before the official monetary price of gold is increased, I think there is good reason to hope for a resumption in the near future of gold transactions between central banks at a realistic price, i.e. at a price close to the market price. This step has already been advocated by several eminent authorities and I am convinced that it would be in the interest, not only of gold, but of the world economy.
The House will not expect me to give a detailed account of the State finances for the current and ensuing financial years; that must await the introduction of the Budget in the next session of Parliament. As regards the current year, however, it is already clear that, thanks not only to the higher gold price but also to greater prosperity and higher incomes generally, revenue will exceed the original Estimates by a substantial amount. In my Budget last year I made provision for the transfer of an amount of R242 million from the Stabilization Account to Revenue Account, but I am glad to say that this will no longer be necessary and that we should still close the financial year with a surplus. Receipts on Loan Account have also been buoyant and here again it will not be necessary to transfer R109 million from the Stabilization Account as originally planned; there may, however, be a small deficit on Loan Account at 31 March which can be covered by the surplus on Revenue Account.
Based on the results for the current year, the projections for the 1974–’75 financial year are favourable. Nevertheless, many uncertainties arising from the oil crisis still surround our financial position for the coming year. Although I am basically optimistic, it would be unwise at this stage to give too many hostages to fortune. It would also be inappropriate, under a Part Appropriation Bill, to announce measures which more properly belong to a full Budget statement. Nevertheless, there are a few measures which, in my view, should not be delayed. Most of them are designed to alleviate the burden of inflation, particularly on the lower income groups.
The first relates to social pensions. As the record will show, relief to social pensioners has with this Government become the rule rather than the exception. Generally, such relief to social pensioners is announced in the full Budget. But seeing that there will be no full Budget till fairly late in the second half of the year, and taking into account the many requests we have received from pensioners for greater support, I have decided to announce increased benefits for our social pensioners in this Budget. It therefore gives me great pleasure once more to submit to this hon. House further proposals for the improvement of their benefits.
I accordingly propose that all social pensions for Whites as well as the allowances payable to settlers and to parents in receipt of maintenance grants be increased by R5 per month. In the case of war pensioners, I propose an increase of the existing bonus by 10%.
It is further proposed that the allowances payable in respect of foster children as well as those payable in respect of children in children’s homes, be increased by R3 per child per month whilst maintenance grants, family allowances and allowances payable in respect of the children of settlers be increased by R1 per child per month.
In addition, I should like to propose that subsidies payable to old-age homes be increased as follows—
- (a) Group I from R5 to R5-50 per month;
- (b) Group II from R26 to R28-60 per month, and, in cases where adequate skilled nursing services are available, from R43-25 to R47-50 per month;
- (c) Group III from R60-50 to R66-50 per month.
In the case of the subsidy payable in respect of adult handicapped persons, I propose that it be increased from R38-50 to R44 per month in cases where specialized staff is available, and from R23-50 to R27 per month in other cases.
It is proposed that the special subsidies payable in respect of social workers occupying the following posts be increased as follows—
- (a) Supervisor’s post from R150 to R300 per annum;
- (b) Control post from R350 to R600 per annum;
- (c) Chief control post from R450 to R800 per annum;
- (d) Super chief control post from R550 to R1 000 per annum.
Similar, but suitably adjusted, concessions are proposed in respect of the other population groups where applicable.
It is proposed that the means test be abolished in the case of White centenarians and that the rule, which disqualifies persons from a social pension if they are in receipt of a pension exceeding R696 per annum from the private sector, be abolished; such persons are then subject to the normal means test.
It is also proposed that in the case of the non-White population groups—
- (a) the ratio of 4 : 2 : 2 : 1, which is applicable in determining the free income of an applicant be extended to the determination of the free assets of an applicant and that the assessable value of assets for pension purposes be calculated at 4% instead of 6%;
- (b) the payment of supplementary allowances be extended to pensioners of these groups in the ratio of 4 : 2 : 2 : 1;
- (c) attendants’ allowances be automatically paid from age 85;
- (d) gratuities in terms of section 16 of the War Pensions Act, 1967, be paid also to the widows and children of non-Whites at the ratio of 4 : 2 : 2 : 1.
The concessions outlined by me will take effect from 1 May 1974 and will be applicable in the Republic and in South-West Africa. The total cost will amount to R28 million in a full year and R26 million in the financial year 1974–’75.
The second measure which I wish to announce, is intended as a further stimulus to growth. The 1968 loan levy falls due for repayment in the 1974–’75 financial year, but I have decided that it will be repaid to taxpayers on 1 March 1974. Two weeks from today, therefore, taxpayers should receive a total amount, including interest, of approximately R105 million, of which about R62 million will accrue to companies and the balance to individuals. I hope that this will assist in the financing of economic expansion.
I also wish to announce two concessions in respect of income tax. The first is of particular relevance to the parents of university students. While the State bears the lion’s share of the cost of higher education, the cost to the parents is still appreciable, and I think it is only right that the following concession relating to the income of such students, should be made known at the beginning of the academic year. The Income Tax Act at present requires that an unmarried child over the age of 18 years and not over 21 years, and, if a full-time student, not over 26 years, must be wholly dependent on the parent to qualify for a child abatement. This is very restrictive as the Courts have ruled that the receipt by the child of only a few rand disqualifies the granting of an abatement.
While the Revenue department has administratively applied more lenient norms e.g. that the student’s financial means must exceed R450 per annum before the granting of an abatement is refused, the matter is unsatisfactory, full of anomalies and has been the source of many complaints especially from those parents whose children are studying with bursaries in excess of R450, or where the child works during university vacations and earns more than R450.
On the recommendation of the Standing Commission on Taxation, which considered the matter, it is proposed to amend the Income Tax Act during the next parliamentary session so that the parents of such children will, with effect from the tax year commencing 1 March 1974, qualify for an abatement provided the child is not liable for the payment of income tax in his own right in respect of the relevant year of assessment. This means that a student may receive a bursary to an unlimited amount and may also earn up to R600 during vacations without causing his parent to lose the benefit of the abatement. It is estimated that the concession will entail a loss of revenue to the fiscus of R2 million in a full tax year but that for the 1974–’75 financial year the loss will amount to R1 million only.
The second concession on income tax relates to medical expenses. Complaints are often received from persons, usually the old and infirm, that the present fixed abatement for medical expenses—in the case of married persons R150 or R250 depending on whether the person’s age is under or over 60 years—is not sufficient to cover actual medical expenditure. On the other hand it is well known that the actual medical expenditure of many others, especially those who belong to medical aid schemes, is well below the fixed abatements. The fixed abatements were introduced on the recommendation of the Franzsen Commission, inter alia, to ease the administrative work of the Department of Inland Revenue, but due to new assessing procedures introduced by the department it will now be able to handle an abatement based on actual expenditure without undue administrative difficulties.
The medical abatement relates to personal expenditure as does the abatement in respect of insurance premiums and contributions to provident funds and benefit societies, including medical aid. The insurance abatement is based on the actual expenditure to a maximum amount of R400. It often happens, especially in the case of aged persons, that this R400 is under-utilized while such person’s actual medical expenditure may exceed the fixed medical abatement. The reverse could well apply to the young and healthy. By combining the two abatements more scope will be provided for making use of the under-utilization of the two separate abatements.
I therefore propose that one abatement, based on actual expenditure, be provided for medical and dental expenses, insurance premiums and contributions to benefit, provident, unemployment and medical aid funds up to a maximum of R600 per annum in the case of a married person and R500 per annum in the case of an unmarried person. Medical expenses will include the cost of medicines bought on prescription and the cost of home nursing services by qualified nurses. The new combined abatement will come into effect in respect of the tax year commencing on 1 March 1974 and taxpayers should retain their receipts as from that date so as to enable them to claim the actual abatement they are entitled to at the end of each tax year. The revenue authorities will not require the receipts to be attached to the annual income tax return but they should nevertheless be retained as proof of payment should a case be selected for audit. It is estimated that the change will result in a loss of revenue to the fiscus of R2,5 million for a full year and R1 million for the 1974–’75 financial year.
Finally, I wish to announce concessions in respect of sales duty. The duty on most essential household articles has long since been reduced to a minimum or abolished altogether. Since November 1972, in fact, I have made concessions in respect of sales duty amounting in total to over R60 million per year.
The scope for further relief is therefore limited. In order to help combat rising costs and prices, however, I propose—
- (a) that all rates of duty in excess of 20% be reduced to 20%—this includes such items as radio’s and record players where the present rate is 25%;
- (b) that, particularly to assist young people setting up house, the present duty of 10% on domestic refrigerators be reduced to 5%;
- (c) that, to promote efficiency and reduce costs, the present duty of 15% on office machines be reduced to 10%, and
- (d) that to assist the industries concerned for administrative reasons, the duties on the following items be reduced to the extend mentioned:
Travel goods: from 15 to 10%.
General articles of leather for personal or domestic use: from 15 to 10%.
Lawnmowers: from 15 to 10%.
Fountain pens, ball point pens and revolving pencils: from 15 to 5%.
Wallpaper: from 15 to 5%.
Glass mirrors: from 15 to 5%.
Bathroom wall cabinets: from 15 or 10% to 5%.
Licence discs: from 15% to nil.
Dress patterns: from 10% to nil.
Gloves: from 5% to nil.
All these concessions will be put into effect by a Government Notice which will be published on Monday, 18 February. They will result in a loss of revenue of approximately R16,4 million per annum.
As before, the Government expects that importers and manufacturers will pass on the benefit of these concessions to the consumer, and the Department of Commerce will consider further action in cases where this does not occur.
Mr. Speaker, we live in an uncertain world. South Africa cannot escape these uncertainties completely; yet, compared with most other countries, we are favourably placed to face the future with confidence. Our political and economic stability, the wealth and diversity of our natural resources, the skill and adaptability of our labour force, the resourcefulness of our capital market, the enterprise and acumen of our entrepreneurs—all these give good grounds for believing that we can meet and overcome the challenges which lie ahead. The Government believes in South Africa’s economic future, and will continue to foster and stimulate the growth of our economy on a sound and lasting basis. I am confident that the year 1974 can be a year of significant progress of all sectors of our economy.
Mr. Speaker, the speech of the hon. the Minister of Finance is very much what we expected. He has given us a great deal of general information. He was able to tell us that he expects a large increase in revenue and we share the satisfaction of all South Africans that we in this country have enjoyed such good fortune on this particular front. The hon. the Minister continues to exude optimism, somewhat unmindful, I feel, of the real and pressing problems that face this country, problems, Mr. Speaker, that a fiscus with overflowing coffers can well solve by intelligent application. Mr. Speaker, it has been the pattern of this Government for many, many years now immediately before an election or before a by-election to paper up the cracks in the economy by distributing largess to the voters. This year, Sir, is no exception. We have a typical pre-election move by the Government. Nevertheless we welcome the concessions announced by the hon. the Minister. We are glad to hear of the relief given to pensioners, to old-age homes, to persons who receive relief under the Children’s Act, to handicapped persons, and of the changes in the means test and the largess to the six, 12 or 20 centenarians living in South Africa. The repayment of R105 million in respect of the loan levy will be welcomed. The hon. the Minister is only returning to the public what he took from them. He is returning in three weeks before the election instead of perhaps three or four months after the election. We welcome the income tax concessions, particularly to students. This matter was raised by my hon. friend, the member for Von Brandis, last year. So far as medical expenses are concerned, I do not think that the concession is all it seems to be, because people over 65 will actually have a reduction of some 50% in their income tax abatements for medical expenses and insurance.
Sir, the hon. the Minister has advised the House of a number of concessions in regard to the sales duty. He has said that he has already in the past given concessions to the extent of R60 million. But what does this show, Mr. Speaker? It shows the degree of excess sales duties under which this country has been suffering for the last four or five years. I want to issue this warning to South Africa, Mr. Speaker: Beware the Trojan house; I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts. I shall have more to say on this aspect of the hon. the Minister’s speech in the course of this debate. Meanwhile I move—
Mr. Speaker, I move—
In the Bill now under consideration Parliament is requested to vote an additional amount of R82 555 801 on the Revenue Account. R31 262 944 on the Loan Account and R3 760 050 on the South-West Africa Account for the current financial year. The total of approximately R117 600 000 is approximately R70 million less than was requested in the additional estimates during the previous financial year
Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who are charged with the control over and spending of public funds for their wholehearted co-operation in restricting their requests for additional funds to the minimum.
I do not wish to burden you now with too much detail in regard to the amounts requested. That can wait until the Committee Stage. However, without going into too much detail and thus taking up too much of your time, I nevertheless want to refer briefly to a number of the larger amounts.
An additional R20 423 300 is being requested on the Public Debt Vote. Of this amount approximately R8 400 000 is required for interest payments and the rest is in respect of management costs. The increased interest burden is to a large extent attributable to the fact that, as a result of the high liquidity in the domestic money market, the Treasury was most successful during the first quarter of the financial year and could borrow considerably more money than was expected, with a resulting increased interest commitment. Furthermore, during the first 10 months of the financial year the South African Railways withdrew considerably smaller amounts from its capital allocation, with the result that its interest burden showed a decrease and that of the Treasury showed an increase by an equal amount. Management costs, which include losses on exchange, increased because the Treasury had decided, owing to the high foreign interest rates, to repay certain loans earlier than was originally envisaged.
Provincial Administrations are getting an additional R26 139 000. This increase is to a large extent attributable to the fact that price increases were considerably higher than had been budgeted for. In addition, local wages of non-Whites were increased by 17½%. This was not budgeted for.
In respect of Bantu Administration and Development an additional amount of R6 249 000 is required. Of this amount nearly R5 million is in respect of the Governments of Bantu areas. The Government attaches high priority to the development of the areas in question, and supplementing their funds is considered to be essential. The supplementary pension and other social benefits announced during the latter half of 1973 are also responsible for part of the increase.
My colleague the Minister of Economic Affairs recently made an announcement on the Government’s intention to make a contribution to the stabilization of the price of petrol. Up to the end of March an amount of R10 800 000 is required for this purpose, but since savings to the amount of approximately R2 million are anticipated on the Vote of the Department of Industries, only R8 758 000 is being provided for this purpose.
The amount of R3 978 000 which is being required for Social Welfare and Pensions is to a large extent bound up with the further social benefits announced during the recess. Hon. members will recall that a 50% increase over and above the one announced in my Budget speech was granted at that stage.
On the Mines Vote an amount of R4 460 000 is being requested in connection with the search for oil. The actual amount required is R6 300 000, but it is possible to meet part of the amount from savings on the Vote as a whole.
The major part of the amount of R3 930 000 required on the Health Vote, is in respect of district medical and nursing services and medical poor relief. The cost of these services, especially medicine, is, as you know, increasing all the time.
So much for the Revenue Account.
On the Miscellaneous Loans and Services Vote an amount of R8 531 000 is being requested. Of this amount R8 million is in respect of the transfer of moneys to the Railway and Harbour Fund. The House has already voted the Railways Administration’s additional estimates, and the amount of R8 million is meant to cover part of the expenditure authorized in it.
Of the amount of R11 500 000 required on the Industries Vote, R10 726 000 is in respect of loans to the South-West Africa Water and Electricity Corporation Limited for the development of South-West Africa. The State has already made available share capital to the amount of R65 million to the IDC, for this purpose, but it has now been decided to finance further development by means of loans direct to SWAWEC. The amount of R11,5 million will to a large extent be applied at the Van Eck power station and distribution system as well as the Ruacana scheme.
The amount of R5 535 000 required for Bantu Administration and Development, will be used for supplementing the share capital of the Bantu Investment Corporation in order to enable the corporation to finance the take-over of the homeland part of African Bus Service.
The R2 million required on a new Vote, Commerce, is the first instalment of a loan of R22 500 000 to the Transvaal Coal Owners’ Association. This amount will be applied for the provision of loading facilities at Richard’s Bay. Negotiations are still being conducted in regard to the conditions of the loan, but I should like to give hon. members the assurance that the loan will not be paid out unless conditions can be negotiated which will protect the State’s interests properly.
South-West Africa Account
The total amount required comes to approximately R3 800 000, of which almost half, i.e. R1 526 500, is required for Water Affairs. Water remains one of the most important problems with which South-West Africa has to contend. Virtually everything is required for the establishment and maintenance of Government water schemes as well as for subsidies on minor waterworks.
I want to content myself with the observation, Mr. Speaker, that I am satisfied that the services for which these funds are required cannot in the national interests be postponed. If there are hon. members who wish to have further information on specific items for which funds are required, my colleagues will, as is customary, be prepared to reply to any questions during the Committee Stage of this Bill.
Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I just want to refer to the new building services on Loan Vote B and South-West Africa Vote 19—Public Works. In the normal course of events most of them would not have been included, but since the Budget will only be promulgated late in the financial year, it is essential that a start be made with the services concerned early in the new financial year, and they have been included so that the necessary parliamentary sanction may be obtained.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister of Finance has this year made a somewhat longer Second Reading speech on the additional estimates than he usually makes. One is constrained to say that with the election in the offing and the poor replies which we get from other hon. Ministers during the course of debates, it will seem that the hon. the Minister of Finance is doing his best to protect the other Ministers before they go to the hustings. We have had, in fact, a very detailed explanation of what most of these items are. We are grateful to the hon. the Minister for the information, but we still regard this as basically a Committee Stage debate and we shall deal with most of the matters in detail when we come to that stage.
It is correct, as the hon. the Minister has said, that this year he is asking for considerably less money than he asked for last year—approximately R117,8 million against approximately R188 million—but there are a number of individual items in these Estimates which seem to have been increased very considerably. There are also one or two items of considerable interest to us on which we shall have a number of questions to ask.
We support this Bill and we are ready to go into the Committee Stage immediately.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Schedules 1, 2 and 3:
Revenue Vote No. 4.—“Prime Minister”, R943 000:
Mr. Chairman, I wonder if we may have an explanation of the very sharp increase in subsistence and transport costs and the very large increase in the provision for printing, stationery and advertisements.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member referred, firstly, to the increased expenditure under sub-head B—Subsistence and Transport. In the additional estimates provision is made for an amount of R40 000 so as to pay for the subsistence and transport costs of the Schlebusch Commission. An amount of R1 100 is in respect of the Advisory Council for South-West Africa. The additional amount of R2 500 is being requested for general transport, but this amount will be reduced considerably as a result of transport savings which are in progress at the moment. The amount of R23 000 under sub-head D, to which the hon. member also referred, is connected with the recordings and printing of reports of the commission which I have already mentioned.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Votes Nos. 6.—“Treasury”, R391 000; 7—“Public Debt”, R20 423 300; 8.—Provincial Administrations”, R26 139 000; 9.—“South African Mint”, R63 000; 10.—“Inland Revenue”, R202 000; 11.—“Customs and Excise”, R430; and 12.—“Audit”, R35 000; Loan Vote A.—“Miscellaneous Loans and Services”, R8 531 000; and S.W.A. Vote No. 4.—“Customs and Excise”, R2 800:
Mr. Chairman, I wonder if the hon. the Minister can give us some indication for the reason in the increase in “Management” as it appears in sub-head B of Vote 7—Public Debt. The increase shown under this sub-head amounts to R12 070 000.
Mr. Chairman, the reason for the increase in “Management” is clear. It is mainly due to the fact—as I mentioned in my statement in a previous debate—that interest rates have increased considerably in overseas countries. Therefore we in the Treasury deemed it necessary to repay some of the loans we had made in some countries before they were due. In the repayment we lost on exchange. Therefore the losses are mainly on exchange, but we believed that it was more profitable to us to repay these loans. However, in doing so we suffered these exchange losses.
On Vote 10—“Inland Revenue”—there are a number of items on which we would like an explanation. All these items appear under sub-head E. Under the item “General” there is an increase from R64 000 to R244 040. This means an increase of R180 040. Furthermore three refunds and remissions of grace or favour have been made. Perhaps the hon. the Minister can tell us about those refunds and remissions.
Mr. Chairman, the amount of R180 040 to which the hon. member referred, actually represents various amounts. If the hon. member should look at the total amount of the Vote, he would see that it is a relatively small amount which is being required. I may just explain that under sub-head E there are certain items of which I shall give an explanation now. In this particular sub-head provision is being made inter alia for an amount larger than the one shown here, because there is a certain contrast which is deducted here which could be set off in the Estimates. The first item includes arbitration costs, the payment of interest, commissions and reward. The increase as a result of interest that was paid in terms of an appeal case decided against the department, has been included here. The expenditure under this item cannot be determined in advance, and for that reason provision for the actual expenditure is made in the additional estimates every year. It represents an amount of R182 500.
Then the hon. member referred to ex gratia refunds under sub-head E. As shown, these relate to three cases. I may as well deal with the first of these cases, namely that of P. P. Joubert (Edms.) Bpk. In terms of the provisions of the Income Tax Act of 1962, as amended, a tax, called the undistributed profits tax, is levied on that portion of a company’s distributable income which exceeds the income distributed by way of dividends during the specified period. The expression “specified period” is defined in section 49 of that Act and means a period of usually 12 months ending six months after the specified date of the year of assessment. The specified date therefore means the last day of the relevant year of assessment. The specified date of the Joubert case, where the assessment is R1 505, is 30 June and his “specified period” is the calendar year. The company was registered on 8 December 1949, and its assets consist inter alia of shares on which dividends were received. This is the customary procedure, as the hon. member knows. During its 1969 financial year the company received the following net income and distributed the following dividends: Net income—R13 794; the distribution dates were 30 December 1968, 28 February 1969 and 30 June 1969; amounts distributed: on the first date, 30 December 1968, R6 018, on 28 February 1969, R2 422-50 and 30 June 1969, R5 329—a total of R13 770. The company did in fact distribute virtually all of its distributable profits in respect of the 1969 year of assessment. However, the dividends of R6 018, distributed on 30 December 1968, cannot be taken into account for the purposes of the calculation of the undistributed profits tax in respect of the 1969 year of assessment, since they did not fall within the relevant specified period of the company, namely 1 January 1969 to 31 December 1969. The company’s liability for the undistributed profits tax for the 1969 assessment was therefore determined as follows: The assessed loss, R388, minus dividends received, R14 182, which brings the total net profits and distributable income to R13 794. The amount minus dividends distributed was R7 752. and the amount subject to tax was R6 042. I think I shall content myself with these particulars.
Mr. Chairman, in his explanation the hon. the Deputy Minister referred to an appeal case which his department had lost. Could he give us more particulars in that regard?
Mr. Chairman, I did not refer to a specific case. I merely pointed out that the cost of arbitration in respect of appeal cases could not be calculated at the beginning of the year, as we did not know at the beginning of the year whether we would have appeals or arbitrations. Therefore we cannot make an advance estimate. For that reason provision is usually made for the costs of such arbitration in additional estimates. In this particular case it was an appeal case from the special Income Tax Court, i.e. S.I.R. v. Palabora Mining Co.
Mr. Chairman, in connection with Vote 11, Customs and Excise, can the hon. the Minister give us an explanation as to why an ex gratia remission of customs and sales duties in respect of goods damaged in transit had to be made?
I presume the hon. member is referring to sub-head J under which an amount of R430 is asked to be voted. The particulars are as follows: An amount of R429-95, i.e. R424-70 customs duty and R5-25 sales duty, is due to the Customs and Excise Account. On pages 1 to 4 of the parcel post lists, No. 31/1 issued by the Postmaster-General on 7 April 1972, several dutiable items appeared on which duty was not collected. In reply to a query raised by the internal audit section of this department, the Postmaster-General stated that the items concerned were so badly damaged by fire and water at sea that the contents of the parcels had no commercial value whatsoever and were delivered to the addressees where their names and addresses were available and legible, without collecting duty thereon. The department assessed the duty on the damaged articles in proportion to the declared value of the undamaged articles, namely R424-70 customs duty and R5-25 sales duty. Treasury authority No. B10/5 of 10 April 1973 was granted for remission of the duties subject to the provisions of Treasury instruction No. 2901(g), and the amount involved, R430, must therefore be voted.
Mr. Chairman, is the department not creating a very dangerous precedent in remitting duties in these circumstances?
Mr. Chairman, no. No precedent is created in regard to this item. This has happened before. I think the hon. member will concede that in cases like this the articles subject to the duty were delivered to these addressees in a condition where they have no commercial value whatsoever. It would be most unfair to collect duty in these cases.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to refer to Vote 8—Provincial Administrations. Would the hon. the Minister be good enough to explain the reasons for the increases in respect of the four provinces? Are these for specific purposes or have there been successful heart-rending pleas by Administrators?
The increased amounts on this particular Vote do not represent any specific items or special favour shown to the provinces.
Has there been a softening of your heart?
In this particular regard I may just explain—and the hon. member is aware of it—that the revenue position of the provinces and the subsidies paid to them annually are calculated in terms of a fixed formula. This formula provides inter alia that in a given year the provinces will also be compensated for certain cost increases which may occur, as well as for certain salary increases and wage adjustments which, on the initiative of the Central Government, are also applicable in respect of the provinces. These amounts therefore represent these items as basic expenditure. Perhaps it would be fair if I briefly furnished particulars. In the case of the Cape Province a special item was added, which I should very much like to explain. This is a non-recurring item, which will not be calculated again in the future. The increase of R11 290 000 as regards the Cape Province is in respect of the revised subsidy, which has been increased to R326 705 000. In the main this reflects the effect of inter alia price increases which have to be paid to them in terms of the subsidy formula. This has been calculated, more or less, on the basis of a price increase of 10,4% in respect of the expenditure involved here. In practice provision is made at the beginning of the year for a percentage of anticipated increases during the year. In this particular case the department fixed the anticipated price-increase rate at 5,5%, whereas, for the components involved here, it averaged 10,4% during the year. It varied from case to case, but the average was 10,4%. A further item involved here is the increase in the local wage-scales of non-White workers. The hon. member will recall that provision was made in the Main Budget for salary adjustments in respect of the public servants themselves. The unknown factor was the local wage-scales. At that stage they were not clear to us yet. On an average, they were increased by 17,5%. The last item relates to certain revisions of the statistics in respect of the school-going pupils in the Cape Province and also the number of motor vehicles, where there was an increase. There was therefore a non-recurring adjustment, which brings the total amount to R11 290 000. As far as Natal is concerned, the increase of R3 188 000 represents adjustments in respect of cost increases. Also applicable in the Transvaal are the cost adjustment, pension contributions, as well as the additional compensation in respect of non-White wages which were increased at an average of approximately 7,5% per year. The same applies, in broad outline, in respect of the Orange Free State.
Votes agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 13.—“Defence”,
I shall be grateful if the hon. the Minister could give us details of the two ex gratia payments reflected under this Vote, and the reasons for them.
Mr. Chairman, the first case deals with the accident to 2nd Lt. De Bruyn, a member of the Citizen Force. He took off from the Zeerust airfield in a private Cessna aircraft to take part in an operation in the region of Nietverdiend together with three other aircraft. In view of the poor weather conditions which developed after take-off in the region of Zeerust, they received orders to make for Mafeking, but ascertained that there, too, landing was impossible. When he was about 6 ft. above the ground, a gust of wind suddenly jerked the aircraft in the direction of the wind to a position diagonally across the runway. Corrective action taken by him did not have the desired effect and the aircraft drifted in the direction of the nearby power cables. He tried to swerve to the left, but his speed was too low and the wing struck the ground. The aircraft turned a forward somersault and came to a halt on its wheels. The cost of repairs to the aircraft amounted, to R6 362. Since Lieut. De Bruyn is a member of the air commando and because the accident took place in the course and execution of his official duties, a claim for the aforementioned amount was instituted against the department. The aircraft was not insured. His only remuneration is R10 per flying hour and that only covers his expenses. At the time of his appointment as a member of the commando, Lieut. De Bruyn only signed an indemnity in terms of which he indemnified the department against claims arising from carelessness, incompetence or technical defects. Consequently the matter was referred to the Attorney-General. His finding was that it was very unlikely that Lieut. De Bruyn’s claim would succeed. It was then recommended that an ex gratia payment to Lieut. De Bruyn was justified, since he had not been reckless or intentionally negligent, and had done everything in his power to accomplish a safe landing. Consequently this ex gratia payment was granted.
I now come to the second case. On 13 October 1970 the State Procurement Board approved a contract for the delivery of five Magirus Deutz 10 ton vehicles at R19 729 each, being awarded to the then local agents for Magirus Deutz, namely Messrs. Illings (Pty.) Limited. The prices were not stipulated, but the delivery period was. Delivery was to be effected during February 1972 and payment of the full amount was to be made after receipt of the vehicles. However, from 1 September 1971 Messrs. Illings (Pty.) Limited relinquished the agency and it was then taken over by Messrs. Magirus Deutz (Pty.) Limited. The firm Magirus Deutz also took over the contract at the same price and on the same conditions. Delivery did not take place during February 1972, but on 26 April Messrs. Magirus Deutz informed the Department that the prototype vehicle had been ready for inspection during November 1971, that the alterations to the body had taken a considerable time and that this had caused a further delay, that the completed unit had been finally inspected and approved during July 1972, and that on completion of the contract they had found they had a debit balance as a result of the devaluation of the rand and the revaluation of the German mark during December 1971. They requested that consideration be given to an increase in the contract price of R2 441-76 per unit, i.e. a total price adjustment of R12 208-80. The necessary auditor’s certificate in support of the above-mentioned amounts was submitted by the firm. The vehicles were delivered satisfactorily and in the light of the unavoidable delays which had taken place, as well as the changes in the exchange rate, a recommendation was made to the Treasury that the additional amount of R12 208-80 be paid to the firm. Under a reference dated 12 October 1973, the Treasury recommended the payment as an ex gratia one subject to parliamentary approval.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 15.—“Labour”, R412 000:
Mr. Chairman, we should like to have details in regard to item G, particularly since it is maintained that we do not have unemployment in South Africa. We should like to hear what is going on there.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to reply to that on behalf of the hon. the Minister of Labour. The total excess under sub-head G is R101 000. Of this amount, R54 000 can be met from savings on other sub heads, which leaves the amount of R47 000 which appears in this column. The position is that section 29(2) of the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1966 provides that the State must contribute an amount equal to 25% of the total amount paid by employers and employees by way of contributions to the fund. During December 1973 there was a substantial increase in the amounts received by the fund from employers and employees, which inevitably raised the State’s contribution and caused the amount of R101 000 to be required. The increasing contributions of the employees and the employers occurred as a result, in the first place, of salary increases and, in the second place, of the greater measure of employment, and this increased the liability of the State accordingly.
Mr. Chairman, I would be grateful if the hon. the Minister would give us an explanation in regard to the additional amount of R365 000 which has to be voted under sub-head H: “Sheltered Employment Services for Handicapped Persons”.
Mr. Chairman, this increased amount is attributable, firstly, to the increase in salaries and wages of staff and workers attached to sheltered employment factories, and, secondly, to the increased subsidies paid by the State to societies for the care of the blind. The position is that the State only pays the full wages in respect of sheltered employment factories. Wages were increased with effect from 1 May 1973 and were adjusted on the basis of the adjustment to the salaries of public servants, that is 15% in the case of Whites and 17½% in the case of non-Whites. Therefore, as far as sheltered employment is concerned, the State is responsible for the full amount arising from the salary increases. That is the reason for the increase in this amount.
In regard to workshops for the blind, the State does not pay the full salaries, but it does pay a subsidy. The State subsidizes the wages of the workers on the basis of a part of their wage per hour, and also the salaries of the instructional staff on the basis of 66⅔% of their salary scales. The basis of subsidization of these workers who have to be paid by the State, was increased as follows with effect from 1 October 1973: According to the old scale the subsidy in regard to trained White workers was 23c per hour and the new scale is 26c per hour; trained Coloureds and Asiatics—on the old scale, 20c per hour, and on the new scale 24c per hour; in the case of untrained Whites—on the old scale, 15c per hour and on the new scale, 14c per hour; and in regard to untrained Coloureds and Asiatics, 10c per hour on the old scale and 12c on the new scale.
I do not think that the hon. member will want me to tell him where these workshops are situated. There are eight of them and I think he knows this. Three hundred and eighty-eight people are employed at these workshops, namely 194 Whites, 154 Coloureds and 40 Asiatics. These are all workers in respect of whom the State pays these subsidies.
Mr. Chairman, these questions have been addressed to the hon. the Minister of Labour but they have been replied to by the hon. the Minister of Sport and Recreation. This House was not told that the hon. the Minister of Labour would not be present, nor have we had any apology for his absence. I think that this is flouting the House.
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the hon. the Minister of Labour, if I have omitted to apologize for his absence here, I am very sorry, and I do so now. The hon. the Minister had a long-standing and important appointment and that is the reason why he was unable to be here this morning. I should like to tell the hon. member for Parktown that I am not only the Minister of Sport and Recreation but I am also Minister of Mines and of Immigration. That is why the hon. the Minister of Labour felt that I could reply to any questions that might be asked in regard to matters falling under his department. I am very willing to reply to any other questions members might care to ask.
Sir, the hon. the Minister has announced various increases in regard to persons who are in sheltered employment. I wonder if the hon. the Minister could give some indication as to what the existing ratio is between the wages paid to White persons in sheltered employment and those paid to non-Whites in sheltered employment. The hon. the Minister has indicated that a percentage increase has been granted which results in this additional amount to be voted.
Order! The hon. member may only ask for the reasons for the increase.
Sir, I am asking for the reasons so as to ascertain what the ratio will be as a result of this increase which is to be voted.
Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, I submit that the object of the exercise this morning is to elicit from the hon. the Minister replies to the question as to why there should be increases. I submit further that we should be allowed—and in fact we have had decisions before in this Committee that we are allowed—to debate the reply of the Minister if we consider that that reply is unsatisfactory, or if we require further information in addition to that supplied by the hon. the Minister. I submit therefore, Sir, that you should allow the hon. member for Umbilo to put his question.
Order! I have given my ruling and the hon. member must abide by it.
Sir, on a further point of order, do I take it then that we are not permitted to ask any further questions arising out of the replies of the hon. the Minister?
As long as it has to do with the reasons for the increase, hon. members may debate it.
I gather from the hon. the Minister’s reply that the reason for this increase is that an increase has been granted to Whites and non-Whites in sheltered employment in various factories which are administered by the Government. I am trying to find out whether this increase will result in a narrowing of the ratio between the wages paid to White and non-White workers in sheltered employment.
The hon. member must abide by my ruling. That is not a reason for the increase.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 16.—“Bantu Administration and Development”. R6 249 000; Loan Vote N.—“Bantu Administration and Development”, R5 535 000; and S.W.A. Vote No. 6.—“Bantu Administration and Development”, R331 000;
Mr. Chairman, I would like to deal with an entirely new item which appears in Vote 16, and that is the expenditure relating to the High Court of the Transkei. This is an entirely new item, and I hope that the hon. the Minister will be in a position to give us a picture as to what is happening there. You will recall, Sir, that in the Transkei Constitution Act of 1963 provision was made in section 50 for the State President by proclamation to constitute a High Court in the Transkei. I recall vividly the reply of the then Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, the Hon. Daan de Wet Nel, when he was processed on this question. We asked him what kind of court the Government had in mind, and what kind of judges were to be appointed; whether they were to be appointed in the normal way from the ranks of advocates; whether they were to be judges of the Supreme Court, or whether they were to be appointed from the ranks of magistrates, and I recall his answer, which was full of imagery, as most of his answers were; his answer at that time was: “Hulle sal nie bobbejane wees nie.”
We appear to have come a little further since then, 10 years ago, and now we have the position that the State President has in fact by proclamation constituted the new High Court of the Transkei. Indeed, Sir, Mr. Justice Munnik has been appointed and sworn in as Chief Justice of this High Court. I think we would like to know in relation to this expenditure in this completely new field what kind of court this is going to be. For example, how many judges are there going to be? I notice that in the Estimates there is no mention of any expenditure in respect of the judge’s salary, and I gather that that is because the judge has been seconded to the service of the Transkei. I wonder if the hon. the Minister could indicate on what basis this is being done, for how long this is being done, and whether there are going to be more judges appointed to that division. We have noted, Sir, that an Attorney-General has been appointed in the person of Mr. Guy Titterton, but has the registrar been appointed? Has the master of the court been appointed; if so, from where? Are these gentlemen to be seconded from the service of the Republican Government?
Order! The hon. member must confine himself to the items mentioned here.
Sir, these items are dependent on all the other items, with respect. For example, there are assessors here, and assessors can only sit with a judge. I wonder whether the hon. the Minister could give us some indication as to how long this is likely to last, how long these people are to be seconded, and whether this is an item of expenditure which will be increased at a later stage—in fact, just what the set-up is in relation to the Transkeian High Court.
As the hon. member for Durban North says, this is a new item to be included here, because in the meantime the Transkeian High Court has been constituted and a judge has been appointed there. The judge was appointed from the Eastern Cape Division of the Supreme Court. No fixed period has been laid down in respect of how long the present judge is to occupy that post. That will depend on circumstances, because the judge in the Supreme Court of the Transkei is not isolated from what may happen in regard to judges in South Africa. If, for example, his services should be required elsewhere, he could be taken away there and someone else would then have to be appointed in his place. No term of office has therefore been laid down in that respect. It has been determined that at this stage, according to the volume of work which has been calculated, the appointment of one judge will be sufficient to cope with the work in the foreseeable future, and at this stage, therefore, there is no prospect or assurance that more judges will be appointed. So far it is the intention that for the volume of work that exists the one judge will be sufficient. As my hon. friend will know, he does of course have the right to arrange for assessors, should he require them, and if anything should happen to him—for example, if he were to fall ill or anything of the sort—arrangements could be made for a temporary replacement, etc., but it has been found to be quite practicable for him to take care of the work, as it has been up to now, on his own.
The other posts connected with the constitution of a high court have been filled, namely that of an attorney-general, and those of the master of the Supreme Court and the registrar. These posts have been filled locally.
I wonder if the hon. the Minister could give the House some indication as to the jurisdiction this court will have. In civil matters, for example, will it have exclusive jurisdiction over cases in which Whites are involved, or is it to have concurrent jurisdiction with other Supreme Courts in respect of civil matters (a) between Whites and Whites and (b) between Whites and non-Whites?
The High Court of the Transkei has jurisdiction over both Whites and non-Whites in the Transkei.
I would be glad to have some extra information in regard to two items: first item N, Grant-in-aid to the Bantu Trust Fund, an increase of R658 000, and, secondly item O, Payments to the Governments of the Bantu Areas, an increase of R4,8 million
Mr. Chairman, there is a fairly detailed explanation in regard to sub-head N which I can give the hon. member. The appropriation under this subhead has to do with a grant-in-aid to the South African Bantu Trust Fund and amounts to R658 000. The reasons for this additional amount are as follows: Firstly there are the services rendered by the Legislative Council of the Eastern Caprivi, which amount to an increase in social pensions and allowances of 50c per month for beneficiaries with effect from 1 October 1973. This brought about an additional liability of R1 000. In the second place the Treasury granted approval for the extension of the vacation savings bonus scheme so as to include non-salaried non-White staff who had previously been excluded from that benefit. This caused additional expenditure amounting to R7 000.
For security reasons, further improvements had to be effected so as to have improved internal communication, and R400 000 was required for this purpose. As far as services in the Eastern Caprivi are concerned, further representations were made by the chiefs and headmen in order that proper control could be exercised in their tribal areas. Sums were made available in order that the necessary appointments could be made.
I believe sub-head O was the next one to be mentioned. This sub-head is entitled “Payments to the Governments of the Bantu Areas” and the additional amount requested comes to R4 802 000. Additional amounts are required in order to may payments which must be made in respect of other governments in terms of section 52(2)(d) of Act 21 of 1971. This amount is made up as follows: The Transkei R275 000; the Ciskei, R662 000; Bophuthatswana, R688 000; Lebowa, R220 000; Venda, R316 000; Gazankulu, R657 000; KwaZulu, R1 974 000; and Basotho QwaQwa R10 000.
As far as the Transkei is concerned, the amount of R275 000 is required chiefly for the increase in social pensions and allowances. In the case of the Ciskei the additional amount is also required chiefly for increased social pensions and also for the extension of the vacation savings bonus scheme, to which I have already referred and which is also being made applicable there. Then, too, there is the construction of a teachers’ training college at Zwelitsha, which has had to be postponed for the past six years owing to a lack of funds but can no longer be postponed. The training school is already in existence, but is accommodated in an unsuitable primary school building. A lack of the necessary facilities hampered training, and it was decided that R100 000 would have to be voted to extend and improve the services as soon as possible. Then, too, there was a resettlement of people from the Tsitsikama area to Keiskamahoek, which required an amount of R200 000. This was a matter which had to be given urgent attention in order that the people concerned could be settled. Furthermore, the Xonxa Dam in the Ciskei was damaged by flood waters in 1972, while it was under construction. Estimates were made and a certain amount had to be made available as soon as possible in order that the damage done by the flood waters could be repaired. R200 000 was required for this.
Next I come to the amounts required for Bophuthatswana. An amount of R92 000 had to be voted for the payment of social pensions, and so on. I have already dealt with the question of increased social pensions, and I therefore do not wish to go into the details of the matter again. Then, too, there was an extension of the vacation savings bonus scheme. An amount of R500 000 is being made available for the appointment of more teaching staff and the construction of more additional classrooms in order to prevent backlogs from developing.
In the case of Lebowa an amount of R220 000 is being voted for increased social pensions and the extension of the vacation savings bonus. In the case of Lebowa no further additional amounts are being voted.
Next I come to the payments to Venda. The payment of R360 000 is also attributable to increased social pensions, and so on. As far as schools are concerned, there were certain extensions which cost R250 000. I refer to the extension of the Kveva High School, the hostels for the Thengwe High School, the additions made to the buildings at the Lwhenzhe High School, the completion of the Rambuda High School, for which R40 000 was required, the extension of the Makwarela High School and the secondary school at Makwarela, where extensions also took place.
In the case of Gazankulu, too, there was additional expenditure in connection with increased social pensions and vacation savings bonuses. There is also the agricultural high school at Giyani, which was opened and temporarily accommodated in a primary school building. There was a lack of space and the higher classes could not be introduced. Additional funds had to be made available so as not to hamper the development of the school. An initial amount of R200 000 was made available for that purpose. In addition, a certain amount was voted because the current expenses of the Department of Bantu Education were under-budgeted for in the main estimates. The result was that extra money had to be obtained for certain commitments, such as the payment of a 17½% pensionable allowance to teachers as well as the vacation bonuses. Then, too, a deficit of R282 000 was budgeted for in the original estimates of Gazankulu, and the commitments entered into had to be met. This amount was therefore voted to cover that. Urgent attention had to be given to inter alia the building of roads, and an additional amount had to be provided for that. In addition, a stronger bridge had to be built over the Little Letaba River, and all these things have contributed to this appropriation as far as Gazankulu is concerned. The prolonged drought in Gazankulu also gave rise to an urgent need for water for man and beast. Fifty-eight existing boreholes dried up or were reduced to a trickle, and alternative sources of water had to be provided. An additional amount of R60 000 is required for that.
Then there is an appropriation of R1 974 000 for KwaZulu. This includes the increase in social pensions and the vacation savings bonuses. An amount of R100 000 had to be provided urgently for the training school at Mpumalanga. A further amount of R1 032 000 is being made available for the supplementing of the KwaZulu Revenue Fund. While the estimates for KwaZulu were being framed, the budgeting was not done very accurately since they are still at the initial stages. As a result adjustments had to be made in the course of the year. The estimates of expenditure for 1972-73 had to be framed a long time before the administration there was quite in gear and working smoothly.
The last appropriation under this head is in respect of Basotho QwaQwa. An additional amount of R10 000 has been budgeted, and this is mainly for social pensions and vacation savings bonuses.
Mr. Chairman, in his reply the hon. the Deputy Minister referred to the appropriation for KwaZulu. Can the hon. the Minister tell us whether part of amount voted was used for the fencing of KwaZulu?
Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Deputy Minister referred to certain amounts that had to be paid in various cases because of a shortfall or an excess expenditure on the Budget. Does the hon. the Minister’s department in fact pay the full amount in every case where there is such a shortfall or are the items in fact then examined by the department before payment is made?
Mr. Chairman, I can tell the hon. member that every one of these estimates is examined very, very thoroughly so as to determine what the position is. What happens, in actual fact, is that the accounting section of the department is kept informed and discussions take place. These matters are examined in good time and negotiations are conducted with the Treasury in order to obtain this money. In many cases the money is necessary for development which is in progress. If it should then appear that there was an under-estimate, one cannot simply drop everything. I can give the hon. member the assurance that these matters are examined very, very thoroughly. These are really the result of growing pains which set in with the taking over of responsibilities by this and other Bantu Governments. We do of course require highly-qualified staff to iron out problems of this kind. I can give the hon. member the assurance that this is examined very thoroughly.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Deputy Minister in his reply mentioned that of this amount of R1,9 million for KwaZulu an amount of R100 000 is for a new technical school at Mpumalanga. I wonder if the hon. the Deputy Minister could give us more details. How far has he got with this school and is he in fact going to spend R100 000 during this financial year? There are only six weeks of this financial year left. Is the hon. the Deputy Minister in fact going to spend all that much money?
Mr. Speaker, this building at Mpumalanga is being constructed over a period of five years and in this financial year an amount of R100 000 will be spent. This is what provision is being made for here. However, the rest of the amount will be spent over a further period of four years.
Mr. Chairman, I accept that, but the hon. the Deputy Minister has rather begged the question. He has not answered my question. My question is whether he will spend R100 000 this year. From my own personal knowledge there cannot be anything of this sort, with respect to the hon. the Deputy Minister. From my own knowledge of this particular building, unless there is some hidden expenditure which is not apparent, this Government is not going to spend that much money on it this year. I say this in all good faith. Unless there is any hidden expenditure such as architects’ fees, or something of that sort which is not apparent, I cannot see that the Government can spend R100 000 on the building of this school in this financial year. We have six weeks to go and how far have they got today? This is what the hon. the Deputy Minister should tell us. He is asking here not for tuppence, but for R100 000. All I am asking him is whether he is sure that he is going to spend that R100 000 during this financial year.
Mr. Chairman, naturally we are not sure. This amount could be applied towards planning, architects, professional services, etc. We did not all of a sudden say today that we required R100 000, or whatever the amount is. A long-term task is being performed in this regard. Of course I cannot give the assurance that we shall spend the whole of this amount. One budgets according to the information one receives from professional people. I am sorry that I am unable to say more than that. If the hon. member can do better than that, he should apply to come and work for us again. He was employed by the department before. If he were to do that we would be able to determine the amounts with complete accuracy.
Mr. Chairman, I will take that in good part, but then the hon. the Deputy Minister must take in good part what I am going to say. He talks about estimates being made. An estimate was made 15 months ago for the financial year ending 31 March 1974. But we are now within six weeks of the end of the financial year and it is now no good for the hon. the Deputy Minister to say now that they hope they will spend the amount asked for. At this stage we should be as close as dammit to accuracy. If there is going to be accuracy that is how close we must be to it at this time of the year. There is no question of estimates now; surely they know what they are going to spend in the next six weeks.
Mr. Chairman, I do not think it is necessary to elaborate on this any further, but I do want to say that these are not figures which have only just been prepared. They were prepared months ago, in accordance with what we foresaw we would require until the end of March. This was determined with the help of experts. Further than that I cannot go. I think the hon. member must take my word for it. What remains, is carried over to the next financial year. However, we cannot budget so accurately that we hit on precisely the correct figure, not even at this stage.
Mr. Chairman, you must take note of that: They cannot budget so accurately, only to the nearest R100 000!
†Mr. Chairman, I want to come to some of the other items. The hon. member for Pinelands has already asked regarding subhead N, Grant-in-aid to the South African Bantu Trust, of Vote 16. The S.A. Bantu Trust is getting a lot more than just the R200 000 which is budgeted under sub-head N. I refer to Loan Vote N where there is a further grant-in-aid to the S.A. Bantu Trust of R5 535 000. Again under Vote 6 of the South-West Africa Account there is a further grant-in-aid to the S.A. Bantu Trust Fund of R201 000, and finally in Vote 7 of the South-West Africa Account under Bantu Education, there is a further grant-in-aid of R168 500. This adds up to an awful lot of money in grants-in-aid to the S.A. Bantu Trust Fund under different headings. I wonder if we could get further details of these amounts.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to furnish an explanation in regard to Loan Vote N and the amount of R5 535 000. This concerns the take-over of the bus service by the Bantu Development Corporation, for whom this amount is being budgeted. This amount is made up as follows: For buses, R3 340 000; ticket vending machines, R60 000; land and buildings, R1 450 000; auxiliary vehicles, R85 000; workshop equipment, R150 000; office furniture and equipment, R35 000; certificates, R250 000—that is goodwill; and contingencies, R165 000. This matter was investigated very thoroughly by the Bantu Investment Corporation, and I do not think it is necessary to go into this matter in further detail.
Then there is the question of the appropriation in South-West Africa, namely the grant-in-aid to the South African Bantu Trust Fund. I think that that is what the hon. member referred to. Firstly, an amount of R130 000 is being budgeted for health services, but I think that the hon. member referred to sub-head D under which R201 000 is budgeted. The hon. member referred to it so quickly, that I shall have to rely on my memory. I can only mention that expenditure in regard to health services within the Native territories has increased. The expenditure in regard to surgical and medical supplies required for services rendered by the South African Institute for Medical Research, amount to approximately R78 000 per annum. Owing to the limited funds at the time of the preparation of the draft Budget for 1973–’74, only an amount of R36 000 could be provided for the service. The South-West Africa Administration are the agents for the department in charge of the provision of health services there. The Secretary for South-West Africa pointed out that this is a service enjoying a high priority and that any curtailment of it could have far-reaching repercussions. The additional amount of R42 000 is therefore required in order to provide a thorough service. Then, an additional amount of R69 600 is required in respect of running costs of State hospitals and clinics. The increase is due chiefly to price increases and higher transportation costs, aggravated by the long distances in South-West Africa. Then there were subsidies to bodies for medical and health services, amounting to R6 500. This was required to cover price increases and higher transport costs. There is an amount of R11 900 in respect of overhead expenses. This additional amount for the financial year is required for the payment of overhead expenses to the Administration for the furnishing of health services on behalf of the department in the Native territories. Compensation is calculated at 10% of the recoverable expenses incurred by the Administration in connection with health services in the Native territories. As a result of the rise, the overhead expenses, too, are greater.
Then, too, reference is made to the amount of R201 000 (Vote 6 under the S.W.A. Account). This represents services provided by Native authorities in the Native territories of South-West Africa. It also concerns social pensions, in which regard I have already replied to a question by another hon. member; the services caused an increase in the total amount. The increase resulted in an additional obligation in respect of Owambo and Kavango. The vacation savings bonus, too, resulted in an additional obligation of R21 500. The question of tribal administration also resulted in an increased obligation.
Mr. Chairman, I thank the hon. the Minister for that comprehensive reply. I regret that I missed one small point. Is the amount of R5,5 million wholly to be used for the purchase of bus services?
Yes, that is so.
Can the hon. the Deputy Minister then please advise us which bus services are being taken over for that amount, and how much is the amount in each case?
There is only one concern, namely African Bus Services, Hammanskraal.
Is it one company near Pretoria which has been taken over for R5½ million?
And the name of the company is African Bus Services.
And it has been taken over for the amount of R5,5 million.
It takes a long time to register.
No, it is all very well for the hon. the Minister to try to be clever. His turn is coming too. It is difficult enough, under normal circumstances, to try to keep track when you have a long list of figures; but did I understand correctly that the value of the buses alone was R3 million, and that the value of the transportation certificate was R250 000?
Mr. Chairman, the position is that 130 buses were taken over for this amount. This is a big concern serving Bophuthatswana from Hammanskraal. Land and buildings amounted to R1 450 000 while R250 000 was paid in respect of goodwill.
Mr. Chairman, could the hon. the Deputy Minister please tell us what steps he has taken to ensure that there is no repetition of what happened to the Ezakheni bus service, where the Supreme Court found that there had been gross negligence and lack of control, and in fact, although there were no convictions, the department, in taking over a bus service, had been seriously misled in regard to valuation? Will the hon. the Deputy Minister tell us what steps he has taken to ensure that the same gross neglect and lack of control have not occurred in the valuations here?
Secondly, would the hon. the Deputy Minister explain to us how it is that transportation certificates have a value, when this House has amended the Motor Transportation Act to ensure that no certificates may be sold and transferred without specific approval? In other words, those certificates are valueless. They have no value at all, because this Parliament by law forbids the sale of a certificate. The Act now provides that the new purchaser, even of shares in a company, must apply ab initio for carrier certificates. And yet, R250 000 has been paid in respect of goodwill, which appears tied to carrier certificates. Can the hon. the Deputy Minister explain how R¼ million is paid for something which has no value?
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member referred to another bus service at Ezakheni which, of course, is not relevant here. I just want to give the hon. member the assurance that all possible steps are being taken, through the use of experts, to ensure that no irregularities take place. In fact it is standing procedure in the Bantu Investment Corporation and the department to ensure that all matters are attended to honestly and legally. This case is no exception. That is not to say that one might not find out at a later stage that some official or other who was supposed to have supplied information, did not supply the correct information. Here, too, one is dealing with human fallibility. I can only give the hon. member the assurance once again that a very thorough check has been made to ensure that no irregularities have slipped in in any way as far as this matter is concerned.
†In connection with the question of certificates, I mentioned the word “certificates” only because it is more or less the practice to use that expression when one deals with a transport undertaking. In reality, the expression means goodwill, and that is calculated. That is why I mentioned the word “certificates” right at the start. The expression means goodwill.
*This, therefore, is the goodwill. Certificates as such are not bought. As I have said, it is merely the practice in this specific industry to mention the certificates as such. I think that the hon. member must now take my word for it. In my explanation I used the word “certificates” but in fact it is not the certificates that are bought. It is the goodwill that is bought.
Mr. Chairman, in the first place, the hon. the Deputy Minister is now changing the reason which he gave us for spending a quarter of a million rand. He told us it was for certificates. That is the report he has in front of him. Surely, the word “sertifikate” is a plain, simple word? It means “certificates”. Now he interprets it to mean goodwill.
You buy the shares.
I want to know, Mr. Chairman, if the department has a totally different basis for calculating goodwill to that of any normal company. To my knowledge goodwill is based on profit. It is a formula based on profit. Can the hon. the Deputy Minister relate this R¼ million to the profits of the company over the last two years before take-over?
Take off the subsidy.
You calculate it either on a year or two years or five years before take-over …
Or on the certificates.
… depending on the sort of business, or on the certificates. Sir, the hon. the Deputy Minister of Justice, the man who is supposed to ensure that the law is upheld, now says that you base your valuation of goodwill on certificates.
How would you know how big the company is?
He should know, Sir, that the law places no value on a certificate.
You are right off the rails.
We amended the Act in this House. Does the hon. the Deputy Minister not know that we amended the Act? Now we have a new basis of valuation, Mr. Chairman. The size of the company is judged by the number of certificates it has!
This is a new valuation, Mr. Chairman. The hon. the Deputy Minister says that this is goodwill. Let us first establish whether this is goodwill as the hon. the Deputy Minister of Bantu Development says or it is the number of certificates as the hon. the Deputy Minister of Justice says. The hon. Deputy Minister of Bantu Development says it is goodwill and the hon. Deputy Minister of Justice says that goodwill is the number of certificates.
How do you work out the goodwill?
You work it out on a simple formula based on the profits of the company. Will the hon. the Deputy Minister tell this House what the profits of this company were over the past three years?
Deduct it from the subsidy.
If the hon. the Deputy Minister is prepared to tell me that then I shall give way.
No, I am not prepared.
Mr. Chairman, here we have a goodwill which in any commercial deal is based on the profits of a company, and the hon. the Deputy Minister is not prepared to tell us what the profits were! He is asking us to spend R5½ million, to buy what—a pig in a poke? We do not know whether this company was showing a profit or a loss. It could be showing a loss, and if it is showing a loss, then where is the goodwill? There is no goodwill at all in a company which is showing a loss. If it is in fact a certificate, then why is the hon. the Minister paying R¼ million for a worthless piece of pepper, because that is a fact. The certificate is a worthless piece of paper; it cannot be transferred to the department. That certificate only becomes valid when it is approved by the Road Transportation Board. It cannot just be transferred by buying the company. The buying of that company does not give the hon. the Minister the right to run those buses. He has to apply for permission to run those buses. He has to apply as the purchaser and his application must be approved. The buying of the company does not give him the right to run a bus. He is not allowed to put one of those buses on the road until his department has been approved as the owner of road transportation certificates. Those bits of paper are not goodwill. He refuses to tell us whether the company showed a profit or a loss.
Sir, the hon. member for Durban Point puts questions and answers them himself. I do not want to get personal, but it is clear to me that the hon. member is too much of a lightweight for the complicated stuff and too much of a heavyweight for the easy stuff. Sir, let me make the position very clear. The matter of certificates is linked up with the number of routes. Regard must be had to the wide scope of a service of this kind, and that is why it is customary in the case of a business of this kind to indicate how many certificates there are. But I indicated at once that the amount concerned was actually goodwill. If there is no profit, then goodwill is a matter which has to be weighed up. To have goodwill one must have prospects, etc. Surely the hon. member, as a businessman, is aware of that. It is not customary to make public the details of a transaction of this nature.
Why not? It is public money.
Then, too, there is the matter of competition. This is a matter which one cannot discuss in public. The hon. member asked on what basis the goodwill was calculated. In most cases when the department takes over concerns, statements extending over a period of three years are utilized in determining the goodwill. If he wants further details, we can make them available, but in view of the size of the concern which has been taken over here and since I have furnished the basic details, I think that this should suffice for the purposes of this debate. In the nature of the case I am unable to have available here all the stacks of files containing the particulars which the Bantu Investment Corporation required for this investigation and take-over. I think that the hon. member is unfair in asking for all these details. I shall let the information which I have already furnished, suffice, and I hope that the hon. member will accept it in this way.
A public company is required by law to publish its balance sheet and its profit and loss account. That is the responsibility of a public company, in terms of the law, towards its shareholders. Surely, the Government is a public company whose shareholders are the people of South Africa. Every taxpayer of South Africa is a shareholder in the public dealings of the Government of South Africa. This is not a private limited liability company. It is a liability, yes, to have this Government, but it is not a limited liability company. There is no limit to the responsibility which it owes to the taxpayers of South Africa. And the taxpayers of South Africa are entitled to demand of the Government, which is the board of directors, that they disclose their balance sheets and their profit and loss account. They are entitled to demand of the board of directors, who are responsible to those shareholders, that when a capital deal of this nature is made, it is motivated and justified. In any company on which I have served, any capital expenditure has to be motivated. There has to be justification. There has to be a projection based on past activities, on past results, the capital involved and the projection for the future. You do not buy a capital undertaking and you do not invest capital unless you motivate it, unless you look at the justification for it, and you calculate its potential and how long it will take to amortize your capital investment. This hon. Deputy Minister is responsible to his shareholders and the shareholders have the same right to demand information from him as the shareholders of any company. And the hon. the Minister of Finance will act against any company which does not produce an honest balance sheet, any company which tries to hide the reality of its dealings. The Minister of Finance will deal with it immediately. We are entitled to this explanation. The Minister has not even answered the question whether there was a profit or a loss, let alone how much. He will not tell us whether he has bought a solvent or an insolvent undertaking. He will not tell us whether it was a paying undertaking or a losing undertaking. He cannot hide behind the fact that this is private enterprise. This R5,5 million is not private enterprise; it is the taxpayers’ money, and what he is asking for is a blank cheque, and to buy what? To buy a few assets, and R250 000 to buy so-called goodwill.
No, it is not a certificate any more. It is just the basis on which he calculated goodwill. But I demand that the Minister tell us, firstly, whether this company operated profitably or at a loss before take-over, and what the expectations are. Secondly, I want to know what controls have been introduced. The hon. the Deputy Minister said the procedures ensured that there was proper valuation. I want to ask him whether those were the same procedures which allowed the Ezakheni take-over to take place, or were these procedures only introduced after the Supreme Court had found his department grossly negligent in its control of a capital take-over of that nature? The hon. the Deputy Minister knows about the case. Although the criminal charges were thrown out, in his judgment the judge stated there was gross lack of control. I want to know whether the procedures, the vague procedures which are the only thing we have to justify R5,5 million as the valuation of this transport undertaking—whether those procedures were introduced after the take-over or whether they were the same procedures which failed in that case; and if they are the same procedures, how do we know that they have not failed in the same way here?
Mr. Chairman, there are certain prescribed ways in which matters have to be conducted. These are prescribed by law or by regulations, but the fact that they are prescribed, is no guarantee that people will not transgress. Only the other day it was pointed out that the fact that there is a law prohibiting theft is no guarantee that thefts will not take place. The hon. member wants to argue about the matter, and this is supposed to be the important point. All I can tell him, is that the normal measures have been taken to ensure that no irregularities will not creep in. I also want to point out that the judge did not refer to the department because the department did not handle this matter.
But he did refer to the corporation.
The corporation is under your control.
The corporation is under the control of the Minister, but has nothing to do with the department as such.
The following point raised by the hon. member, was that he would like to see the financial statements. All I can tell him, as far as I know, the company did, in fact, operate at a profit. I do not have the details available, but I say again that we can make this available to the hon. member, should he want it. A moment ago I indicated that we obviously cannot have all the statements and details here. Those we considered necessary are here and if the hon. member wants any more, he can approach the department and we can furnish him with the details. It is quite unnecessary to raise such a hue and cry about it. I want to leave it at that, because I do not think it serves any useful purpose to cover the same ground over and over again.
Mr. Chairman, I could perhaps sympathize with the hon. the Deputy Minister for not wanting to tell the House the full details of this transaction. [Interjections.] The hon. the Deputy Minister has said that it is a private transaction and the details ought not to be given to the House even if he has them available. I think what the House is entitled to is this: What is the basis of the acquisition of this company, how were the assets valued and what was the basis on which goodwill was calculated? If we get this information, we shall at least know the way in which this transaction was dealt with by the department. At the moment we know nothing at all. We are asked to agree to the expenditure of R5,5 million and we know nothing except that a bus company was purchased. I think it is only right and proper, if the hon. the Deputy Minister does not want to disclose the details of the transaction, that he should at least tell the House on what basis this transaction was concluded, how the assets were valued and what the basis was on which goodwill was valued.
Mr. Chairman, I think we have received far too little information from the hon. the Deputy Minister. When it comes to the take-over of a company such as this, we are also entitled to know who the directors of that company were and who the principal shareholders were. Will the hon. the Deputy Minister please tell the House?
Mr. Chairman, I want to put one matter very clearly. There is no question of any refusal to make information available.
You really change your attitude often.
But that is what the hon. the Deputy Minister said at the outset.
I have already said that at this stage we do not have all the details available which are being requested now. I have reported this time and again. Hon. members should not insinuate that we do not want to make this information available or that this is something we want to hide away in the dark. It simply is not so. If the hon. members want more information than that which I have available, they will have to come and get it later. The normal procedure—I have already mentioned this, but perhaps I have to say it again—in evaluating goodwill or property or vehicles which are taken over, is that everything is closely examined.
But on what basis?
I have said that the normal practice of the Bantu Investment Corporation and of the department in the matter of making purchases is to use the statements of three years. Whether this has been done in this specific instance, I cannot say, but normally we do this. Three years is the maximum number of years which is required. It is evaluated accordingly.
But on what basis—a percentage, a projection of the company, or what basis?
The year’s working profits.
And the total profits? [Interjections.]
Order! The hon. the Deputy Minister is speaking.
We took the financial statements of three years to evaluate their goodwill. One also examines the net profits for each of those years. Whether the formulas used, are the same everywhere, I cannot tell hon. members, but in the case of normal take-overs, the average over a period of three years is taken as a basis. That is the position. In this case I can tell hon. members that there is enormous potential. One hundred and thirty buses were taken over and there is a possibility for a good service with 200 buses serving the various routes. I do not know to what extent this has been taken into account, and suffice it to say that the information I have at my disposal, has been given to the hon. members. If the hon. members want more information, they are very welcome to come and get it from me.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Deputy Minister is getting closer now to the point which we are trying to reach, which is to arrive at least at a basis for the fixing of this amount of R¼ million which has been paid for goodwill. I have had experience of dealing with this hon. Deputy Minister’s department on the question of sale of assets of businesses and on the question of the establishment of goodwill. Therefore I know what basis is applied in the Transkei. I know perfectly well that the businesses for which I acted as an administrator in a deceased estate, received nothing like the average profit over the last three years. They received something else. They received compensation on a formula which was laid down in a White Paper which was published in the time of the late Dr. Verwoerd.
And that stipulates three years.
Right, that stipulates three years, but it does not only stipulate three years, as the hon. the Minister knows.
And many other things.
Ah, now we are getting to it! The hon. the Minister says: “And many other things”. Now we are getting somewhere. Why is it like pulling teeth when you want to get information from the hon. Ministers? Why has it got to be like pulling teeth? Why can we not get the facts the first time when we ask the question instead of wasting the time of the Committee?
He gave you the other things.
What other things?
He gave you the land valuation …
Yes, but what has the land valuation to do with these …
He gave you machinery … [Interjections.]
What has that got to do with the establishment of goodwill? Here is an amount of R¼ million of the public’s property handed out. The hon. member for Orange Grove asked to whom it had been paid, who the directors were. We are not told that. That is not important information. It does not matter to him that it has been paid. He said that it does not matter to whom it has been paid. Were the directors White or were they Black? Who were the shareholders of the company? To whom was this money paid? We do not know. We are being asked to vote R5½ million for this and the hon. the Deputy Minister cannot answer these questions and tell us to whom the money goes. That is the first question we must know and I believe that this House is entitled to know who the shareholders and who the directors were. We certainly want to know who the directors were if he cannot tell us who the shareholders were. I believe that we are entitled to know who were the directors of this company. I also believe that we are entitled to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister on what basis he arrived at this figure of R¼ million for as compensation in regard to goodwill or certificates First of all it was for 120 certificates and now it is for goodwill. I notice from the clock that we are about to adjourn for lunch. There will be an hour and a half’s break and I would suggest to the hon. the Deputy Minister that he asks his department, who have wonderful facilities at their disposal, to get this information and to bring it here at a quarter past two when we reconvene. We on this side of the House want to know what is going on and on what basis this R¼ million was decided upon.
Business suspended at
Mr. Chairman, immediately before the lunch adjournment I asked the hon. the Deputy Minister to take the opportunity of the adjournment to obtain certain information to supply to this Committee. I specifically asked that we should at least get the names of the directors of the company which has been bought out, if not the names of all the shareholders, and that we should have some information of the profits, or otherwise, of this company, at least over the last three years. The third bit of information I had hoped to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister for before the break was whether this profit, if there is any, is inclusive of the subsidy which is received by this company, if any, from his colleague, the hon. the Minister of Transport, in terms of the provisions relating to the Bantu Services Levy Fund. I wonder if the hon. the Deputy Minister is now in a position to advise this Committee of those particulars.
Mr. Chairman immediately prior to the adjournment the hon. member made certain insinuations. He did not try to find out what amount should actually have been paid out. He did not so much go into the matter as to whether or not it was a profitable concern which was being taken over. He specifically insinuated that money was being paid out to certain people. It amounts to his accusing the department and this Minister of unethical behaviour. I just want to tell the hon. member that it is the National Party that is in power, and not the old South African Party. I think those insinuations by the hon. member are very reprehensible. I think he owes it to this Committee to tell us what he meant by them. He definitely did not go into the profitability of the matter; that was simply dragged in by the hair. I should like him to clarify that insinuation which he made.
Mr. Chairman, in a pursuance of the various questions which have been asked, I should like to supply the information I have been able to obtain during the lunch hour. However, before I come to that, I should like to put it very clearly to the Committee that the Bantu Investment Corporation is an autonomous body with its own board of directors. By this I do not wish to imply that the Minister or Parliament or I have no responsibility in respect of this company. They receive their share capital from appropriations by this House. But to insist on a mass of details which actually rests with the board of directors, is, to my mind, not really fair. However, I am now going to furnish certain details which I have been able to obtain. Unfortunately I have not been able to obtain everything during the lunch hour, and as I have told hon. members, if they want further details, I shall make it available to them as soon as possible.
†The owners of African Bus Service are United Transport Holdings Limited. The directors are Messrs. M. D. Marais (chairman), A. W. Kent (British—deputy chairman), L. B. Koch, J. Buckingham (British), C. J. L. Griffith, O. P. Koevort, J. R. Le Fevre (British), D. Lloyd-Jones (British) and R. E. Somers-Vine. These are the names of the directors of the holding company. I want to mention that I have not been able to obtain figures regarding the profits of this company. As regards the subsidy I must say that we subsidize the passengers and not the service or the company.
*I want to add that in the course of the month we received a letter from the Bantu Investment Corporation concerning the handling of matters about which the hon. the Minister had made inquiries. I want to read to the hon. House from the letter (translation)—
The hon. gentlemen wanted to know how many years’ statements were required. I said that normally three years’ statements were used. They did not say how many years’ statements they had examined, but what they did say was: “In a well-organized business, with proper accounting systems, the profit and loss accounts and the balance sheet will be the obvious documents for use in such an evaluation”. In the case of Bantu concerns there is usually no proper accounting system, and statements of this nature are not available. In such cases additional investigations have to be made and statements have to be drawn up. This, in brief, is what I am able to say on this matter. There are details on what information the board of directors of the Bantu Investment Corporation requires concerning a business before the directors reach a decision. It is mentioned that even the board of directors does not have all the financial statements submitted to it; the board receives extracts and details drawn up by the staff. In practice it is so that a director who is worth his salt will in any event not investigate the staff’s activities in all respects every time. I want to close with this. If there are any further problems, wrongly so or otherwise, I shall try to reply to them as best I can.
Mr. Chairman, I think all that is left for us to do is to get it clearly on record that the hon. the Deputy Minister is prepared to ask this House for R5,5 million for capital expenditure on the basis of incomplete information, without knowledge of the profits on which a R¼ million goodwill valuation is based, without himself knowing what the profit and loss and balance sheets of the company are, and without knowing the details of projection of future profits. In other words, he as a Deputy Minister is prepared to accept a request from the Bantu Investment Corporation Board without himself having any knowledge other than the general details of the deal. Secondly, he has told the House that the board itself does not have all the details, but that it acts on the information placed before it in summarized form by officials. It must be very clear, then, to the taxpayer who, in the end result, is the man responsible for providing the finances of South Africa, that we are being asked to vote R5,5 million on that flimsy basis. This is being asked of us in the immediate aftermath of a Supreme Court case in which a similar bus take-over deal was found by a judge of the Supreme Court to have been carried out with reckless lack of control.
By the Bantu Investment Corporation. When we ask what steps have been taken to ensure that that reckless lack of control is not repeated, we are told that there are certain procedures which have always existed but we are given no information of any steps taken to tighten up the control. According to the hon. the Deputy Minister—and we have asked him this question twice—it appears that nothing has been done to tighten up, to change or to amend the system. I asked him whether there were any new controls since the Ezakheni case. He said that these were normal procedures which were applied and that one always got a weak link, where somebody could do something wrong.
Not always; but you may.
Yes, you may get a weak link.
As you have in your party.
Yes, everyone has weak links, but the difference is that we do not have places like New Orleans and Rome to which we can send the weak links. I want to come back to this matter. If you find a weakness in your financial control, if you find a loophole, if you find that it is possible for completely inflated prices to be paid for vehicles which nowhere nearly justify that value, if you find that very high goodwill payments or payments for certificates are possible in one case and you have an almost identical case on a much larger scale, surely it is elementary practice in business to introduce new controls to ensure that those loopholes are closed? I ask the Deputy Minister again: What steps did he as a responsible Deputy Minister take to ensure that the loopholes which were exploited in the Ezakheni case could not possibly be exploited here? It is not a question of there being procedures and controls. What has he done to close possible loopholes and to ensure that the control has been effective this time, and that in a year or two years’ time we are not going to find that there was, in fact, a loophole, that there may have been a weak link somewhere, and that, in fact, a summary upon which he is basing a request for R5½ million to be voted by this Parliament, was based on a weak-link report? We do not know. Does the Deputy Minister know, or is he blindly accepting the recommendation of the Bantu Investment Corporation?
It might be a very Agli story.
Yes, my friend says that it might be a very Agli story. We do not know. But we do want to know that, as far as this House is concerned, the Minister responsible to this House has taken all the steps necessary. I am not satisfied that he has taken any steps other than to accept a few pieces of paper put in front of him saying: “Please give me R5½ million”. That is not a satisfactory explanation of the control of the Minister, who is ultimately responsible. Finally, I want to say that it is this Committee which is being asked to vote this money, and we cannot in this House be satisfied by something we are told afterwards in the hon. the Deputy Minister’s office. It is no use having information afterwards in his office, after this Committee has committed itself to this expenditure. Will the hon. the Deputy Minister now tell us what, if any, steps he has taken to verify the information on which he is asking for this money?
Now he is keeping quiet.
We should like to have an answer from the hon. the Deputy Minister. I think he owes that to this Committee.
Mr Chairman, must I take it that the hon. the Deputy Minister will give the replies in his office, but not to this Committee?
Mr. Chairman, I think one could almost say that this is an insufferable situation, i.e. that the hon. the Deputy Minister, after he has had the time to obtain the information, does not have that information for us. In this case a company has been taken over, a company in respect of which he admits there was no proper book-keeping, as it was a Bantu company. He does not even know to whom it belongs, and therefore to whom the R5,5 million is to be paid. This is a matter which will surely demand very serious investigation by this House at some stage. But if the hon. the Deputy Minister is just going to sit quietly and say nothing, I want him to give an undertaking here—he has given this before; he is prepared to furnish information—that he will furnish all that information in full, if he should be required to do so by way of a question or in this House. Is that in order? Sir, I ask the hon. the Deputy Minister again. He promised me and this Committee that he would furnish the information. Will he furnish it in reply to a question in this House, in this sovereign Parliament, yes or no? Mr. Chairman, I call everyone to witness; the hon. the Deputy Minister said that he would give the information, and now he does not even want to reply to a question.
Mr. Chairman, it appears that the hon. the Deputy Minister now has glue on his pants. Why does he not get up and answer? He said he would come with the answer, but now he does not want to give us the answer. Sir, this is only one aspect of this whole story that we have been probing up till now. That is the question of goodwill which we have queried. There are other aspects that we want to discuss as well. Is the Deputy Minister going to remain seated when we ask him questions about the other aspects as well?
Mr. Chairman, there is the question of the buses themselves. The hon. member on my left says I must talk sense, but he is one who does not even know how to read a balance sheet. As I have said, there is the question of the buses themselves. If I heard correctly, the Deputy Minister stated that 130 buses had been purchased for R3 million; that was the value of the buses alone. This works out to more than R20 000 per bus. Is he satisfied with that amount? Is he satisfied to have paid so much for secondhand buses? This is only one other aspect we could raise.
I raised the question of the profitability of this concern, and pointed out that the profitability of this concern was dependent upon a subsidy from the State. It is no good the hon. gentleman saying that it is the passenger who is subsidized. I want to put it to him quite clearly, as a businessman, that that business, without the subsidy from the State, would not be a viable concern. They would not be able to charge the fares they are in fact getting after the subsidy has been paid. The subsidies are not paid to the passengers; they are paid to this firm. What subsidies were received by this firm? In fact, the first question I asked, to which I have not yet had a reply, was whether any subsidy at all was paid to the firm. Now I want to know: Was any subsidy received by the firm and, if so, how much? I hope that the Deputy Minister will be able to free himself from the glue which is holding him to his seat and that he will get up and give us some replies to these questions, because once we have dealt with this further aspect I have just raised, there are other aspects as well contained in the long reply the hon. the Deputy Minister gave us which also warrant further probing.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask you to put these Votes separately so that we can vote against Loan Vote N. The Deputy Minister is obviously not prepared to reply to our questions, so we propose to vote against Loan Vote N.
Revenue Vote No. 16 agreed to.
Loan Vote N put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—80: Aucamp, P. L. S.; Bodenstein, P.; Botha, H. J.; Botha, L. J.; Botha, P. W.; Botha, R. F.; Botma, M. C.; Coetsee, H. J.; Coetzee, S. F.; De Jager, P. R.; De Klerk, F. W.; De Villiers, D. J.; Diederichs, N.; Du Plessis, A. H.; Du Plessis, G. C.; Du Plessis, P. T. C.; Engelbrecht, J. J.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, W. S. J.; Henning, J. M.; Herman, F.; Heunis, J. C.; Hoon, J. H.; Jurgens, J. C.; Koornhof, P. G. J.; Kruger, J. T.; Le Grange, L.; Le Roux, F. J. (Brakpan); Le Roux, F. J. (Hercules); Loots, J. J.; Louw, E.; Malan, G. F.; Malan, J. J.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, P. S.; Meyer, P. H.; Morrison, G. de V.; Mulder, C. P.; Muller, H.; Muller, S. L.; Munnik, L. A. P. A.; Nel, D. J. L.; Nel, J. A. F.; Otto, J. C.; Palm, P. D.; Pienaar. L. A.; Pieterse, R. J. J.; Potgieter, S. P.; Prinsloo, M. P.; Rall, J. J.; Rall, J. W.; Rall, M. J.; Raubenheimer, A. J.; Reinecke, C. J.; Rossouw, W. J. C.; Schlebusch, J. A.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoeman, H.; Smit, H. H.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Swanepoel, J. W. F.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Van Breda, A.; Van der Merwe, H. D. K.; Van der Merwe, P. S.; Van der Merwe, S. W.; Van der Merwe, W. L.; Van der Spuy, S. J. H.; Van Heerden, R. F.; Van Tonder, J. A.; Van Vuuren, P. Z. J.; Van Zyl, J. J. B.; Viljoen. P. J. van B.; Vorster, B. J.; Vosloo, W. L.; Wentzel, J. J. G.
Tellers: W. A. Cruywagen, S. F. Kotzé, P. C. Roux and G. P. van den Berg.
Noes—34: Bands, G. J.; Basson, J. D. du P.; Baxter, D. D.; Beacon, W. H. D.; De Villiers, I. F. A.; Emdin, S.; Fisher, E. L.; Graaff, De V.; Hickman, T.; Hopewell, A.; Jacobs, G. F.; Kingwill, W. G.; Malan, E. G.; Marais, D. J.; Mitchell, M. L.; Moolman, J. H.; Murray, L. G.; Oldfield, G. N.; Oliver, G. D. G.; Pyper, P. A.; Raw, W. V.; Smith, W. J. B.; Stephens, J. J. M.; Streicher, D. M.; Taylor, C. D.; Timoney, H. M.; Van Eck, H. J.; Van Hoogstraten, H. A.; Von Keyserlingk, C. C.; Wainwright, C. J. S.; Webber, W. T.; Wood, L. F.
Tellers: H. J. Bronkhorst and J. O. N. Thompson.
Loan Vote accordingly agreed to.
Revenue Votes Nos. 20.—“Commerce”, R50; 21.—“Industries”, R8 758 000; Loan Votes J.—“Industries”, R11 500 000; and Q.—“Commerce”, R2 000 000:
Under Vote 20 we would like to hear an explanation from the hon. the Minister of the R50 for the control of petroleum products through the Post Office.
I would have thought that the provision under this Vote would have been well known to everyone.
I have said it before, but I do not mind saying it again. It is general knowledge that after the oil-producing countries, and more specifically the Arab countries, had decided to decrease their oil production towards the end of last year; especially also when the Arab countries had decided that South Africa be placed on the list of countries on which a total prohibition were to be imposed, as well as in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time, the Government decided that petrol rationing would be introduced as from 1 March. This was indeed announced and all the preparations were made in this regard. In fact, the petrol coupons for rationing purposes have been printed. These have already been sent to the various post offices and all the necessary forms have been printed and are ready should it become necessary for us to introduce rationing at a later stage. Then we shall be able to introduce it at very short notice.
After the election?
Honestly, Sir, that is a really silly remark. If the hon. member has the idea of playing politics with an important matter such as this for the purposes of the election, that just gives us an indication of how that side of the House is composed. Sir, agreement has been reached with the Post Office that they will handle the distribution of the coupons. All other preparations have also been made in as far as additional requirements may arise, for example, with magistrates, etc. This is why provision is now being made for a taken amount of R50 so that the approval for this new service may be placed on record. I think everyone knows the cost involved in rationing. It is in fact an enormous cost, the printing that is involved and the handling of the coupons. If it has to be introduced, the administration alone, apart from the accompanying hardships, will cost the country millions of rand. For that purpose this amount of R50 has been included in the additional estimates. I may also say that it is generally known that after the Arab countries had decided at the end of December that they would not decrease the production of oil any further, but would in fact increase it, the Government reconsidered the whole position and came to the conclusion that, with the present information at its disposal, it will not be necessary to introduce petrol rationing in the foreseeable future. An announcement was made in this regard.
This is an important task which is being assigned to the Post Office and for which we are now making provision in these Estimates. I just want the assurance of the hon. the Minister regarding a few matters. The first is this; as he knows, it is the policy of the Government and also of this side of the House, that the Post Office be run on business principles, in other words, if the Post Office renders a service to another department, then it has to be paid for that service, and for everything in connection with that service. Can the hon. the Minister give me the assurance that he has come to an agreement with the Post Office as to the precise amount which will be paid? Perhaps he is able to give us an idea of what the global amount for one year will be. He said it would run into millions. If he is unable to give the amount, I shall not hold it against him, but it is a problem. I should like to know whether he has come to an agreement with the Post Office that the Post Office will be compensated for all the factors in respect of which services will be rendered by the Post Office. It is not only the issuing of the coupons; it is the bookkeeping in short regard and the use of the Post Office’s premises, etc. All those things have to be taken into account. I just want to add the following question: “Will the Post Office—I assume it will not—perhaps also handle the printing of the coupons?” If this were to happen, can the hon. the Minister tell us, for the information of the country, which other departments will be involved as well and why provision for this as well has not been made in these Additional Estimates?
Mr. Chairman, it is not possible to make provision for specific amounts for this purpose in the Additional Estimates, as there is so much uncertainty as to what the costs will amount to. The printing itself will be handled by the Department of Commerce. The whole procedure which will be followed in the event of rationing, is being worked out by the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce will also do the necessary supervising.
Have the coupons been printed?
The coupons have been printed and distributed to the post offices throughout the country. In this regard the Post Office will actually act as a contractor to the Department of Commerce. As is the practice when a contractor is appointed, the Post Office and the Department of Commerce will come to an agreement as to how much the department will have to pay the Post Office for the work which the Post Office will do. At this stage I am unable to say what the costs involved will be as far as the Post Office is concerned, but it is in any case accepted and it has been agreed that the Post Office will do the work at payment which will satisfy the Post Office and which will also satisfy the Department of Commerce.
Mr. Chairman … [Interjections.] It is nice to be so popular. It is all very well for the hon. the Minister to tell us that his department is doing the printing and that the Post Office is acting as the contractor in this, but surely in asking us to approve of the Additional Estimates the hon. the Minister is not suggesting that this is his real estimate of the costs to the Post Office at this stage. If that is so, why can he not tell us what, in his view, is the actual cost that has been incurred and what is the amount by which the Post Office has to be recompensed at this stage?
Mr. Chairman, at this moment I am not able to do so because, as I have already explained, a final agreement has not yet been reached. The amount which will have to be paid to the Post Office, will probably amount to a few hundred thousand rand per month, as it is a tremendous task to be undertaken. Therefore I am not able to reply to this.
But what do the costs incurred up to this stage amount to?
All that I ask at the moment, is for a sub-head to be created in principle, for which provision of a token amount of R50 is being made.
But this is not merely a principle; it is a reality.
Of course there are costs involved in this scheme and there will be further costs. The only thing we want at the moment, is that such an item should already have been included in the Estimates for the present financial year. This amount of R50 is in no way intended to serve as an indication of the ultimate cost. Naturally, it will be much more. The costs involved up to now will amount to a few million rand and when rationing has been introduced, costs will rise further. Perhaps I exaggerate when I say “a few million rand”. The costs involved in the printing of the stamps and necessary forms, has been the largest item of expenditure up to now.
What is the amount?
I cannot say. How can I say at this stage what the amount is?
Your department has paid for the printing.
In any case, I am not asking the House to vote money for this today. I only ask for the amount of R50, for which provision is made here, to be voted. If the same item appears in the Estimates for the next financial year and the actual costs have been calculated in full, the hon. members may question me and at that stage I shall account for every cent that has been spent, but at this stage I cannot do so.
Mr. Chairman, I do not think that the hon. the Minister is quite right. It is no good saying he is putting R50 on the Additional Estimates just as an indication that there is going to be expenditure under this item. What has been spent to date? Surely what has been spent to date should appear in the Additional Estimates. [Interjections.] We want to know what is the cost which has been incurred up to date. This is for the financial year 1973–’74, which is going to end on 31 March this year. The hon. the Minister has to find cash to make these payments within the Estimates of this fiscal year. There are one or two alternatives. He either should have brought it in now or he should bring it in in his Supplementary Estimates. I believe this to be wrong if the amount of money has already been expended. What is the purpose of an additional estimate? It is to take care of the additional expenditure incurred since the last Budget and the additional expenditure which is likely to be incurred until we come to the end of the fiscal year. I believe it is quite wrong for the hon. the Minister to tell the House: “I am only asking for R50; that is all you have to pass. Whatever I have expended up to now is a matter of no consequence”. Really, the hon. the Minister as the Minister of Economic Affairs should set an example in good book-keeping. I think he is quite wrong. If an amount of money has been expended on this item already, as it obviously has, it should have appeared in these Estimates. We want to know from the hon. the Minister why it has not appeared in these Estimates.
Mr. Chairman, a start has been made with preparations for the introduction of petrol rationing, but in fact, it is only a start. Only the printing has been done and then there are still the distribution costs.
What are these costs?
I am unable to tell hon. members now what the printing costs are, but as far as these costs will be paid out during this financial year, they will be recovered from savings within the department under other heads. It will in fact be paid for. A proper report on the costs of rationing will be presented to this Parliament on a later occasion. It is foolish (“belaglik”) to ask me now what the costs are. We have only recently started with the printing of the stamps and with the printing connected therewith.
The hon. the Minister should not say that it is foolish.
†It would not be “foolish” if he gives us proper explanations when he gets up to reply to questions. Now he gives us the reply that the expenditure is going to be met through savings. If he had told us that in the first place we would not have had to waste time to discuss it. He must not say it is “foolish”. It is very impolite.
It is foolish.
It is not and the hon. the Minister is quite wrong to come and say now that it is foolish because we now get the facts from him. If he had given us the facts in the first place, we would not have had this discussion.
Mr. Chairman, I am not asking the hon. member to vote money now to cover this expenditure. He is being foolish. [Interjections.] If he wants to be foolish, he must forgive me when I tell him that he is being foolish! I am not asking him to vote money now to cover this expenditure. I shall ask him for that money at a later stage. The only thing I am asking hon. members now is whether they are in favour of the establishment of a vote for the costs which have been incurred and which will be incurred to provide for the payment of those costs. That is all I am asking the hon. members now.
This hon. Minister talks about its being a “belaglike” question that has been asked by the hon. member for Parktown. Let him come to the point. He has now told us that he has spent a lot more money than is reflected upon the Additional Estimates. We are all in agreement with that. The hon. the Minister has spent more money than is shown here. Is he telling us that he does not know how much money he has spent?
Of course not.
Does the hon. the Minister know?
How do you expect me to know?
Then I want to ask him this: “When you have decided to have all this printing work and the administration work done, was there no planning in advance?” Will he tell me that there was no planning and that he did not know what he was going to spend? Is that the situation? That seems to me to be the position. He also tells us that this is going to be met from savings under other heads. There is no indication of that here. Where is he going to save the money? How much money is he going to save? Is it tens of rand, is it tens of thousands, or is it millions? Why cannot he tell us, or is he just blundering along in the dark? Let him tell us.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member now wants me to draw up an estimate of the future costs of rationing. And once I have drawn up such an estimate, what am I to do with it? Must I look at it and say, “No, it will cost too much” and, “Even though we do not have enough petrol, I shall not introduce rationing”? One does not render a service in such a manner.
That is not the point.
But that is what the hon. member is asking me. He asked me what the estimate was. I should have drawn up an estimate. When one has to render an essential service, such as rationing, one has to pay the costs involved when one decides to render that service. The only task one has then, is to limit those costs to a minimum. But one still has to render that service and if the service is not rendered well, surely hon. members can complain. Suppose we did not put this item on the Additional Estimates. The hon. the Minister of Finance has moved the Second Reading of the Part Appropriation Bill today. This means that from now on, until we have the main Budget, there would not have been a sub-head under which I could have made provision for payments in respect of this rationing system. That is all. This is to enable us, in the light of the Part Appropriation moved by the hon. the Minister of Finance to see us through until the main Budget, to have a heading under which we can make payments with regard to this rationing. That is all this means.
Mr. Chairman, in regard to Vote No. 21, Industries, I would like, first of all, to thank the Government for helping the motorist as far as this amount under sub-head Q is concerned. This is a new item and I wonder if the hon. the Minister will tell us what this amount represents in cost per litre to the Government. The heading of this subhead is “Contribution in connection with the stabilization of the price of petrol”.
Mr. Chairman, during the no-confidence debate I expressed myself as followed on this matter:
This tells the whole story. The hon. the Minister of Finance has already referred to this matter in his Second Reading speech on this Bill and he said that provision would be made to this extent during this financial year and then still further during the next financial year. In fact, what this is concerned with, is the provision to us of security regarding our oil supplies, and this costs us money, and the money is being provided by the Exchequer to stabilize the price of petrol.
Mr. Chairman, the explanation of the hon. the Minister does not really make the matter very much clearer. We have here a new item under Vote No. 21 for a sum approaching R11 million of which approximately R2 million is to be met from savings. Since it is a new item, there is a new principle involved. It is something which this House has not yet discussed. The hon. the Minister has given us certain information, but it is not clear to us from the information he has given whether, in fact, the subsidy, this contribution to the stabilization of the price, is being paid in respect of strategic reserves of petrol already held by the Government or whether it is in respect of additional quantities which are being bought by the Government and are being stabilized by means of this contribution, or whether in fact this contribution towards the petrol price is being paid to the oil companies in respect of petrol which is being bought by the motorist. It is not at all clear as the item stands on the Vote, precisely in what manner this money is being spent. We would be grateful if the hon. the Minister would make this clear to us.
Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that I am unable to comply fully with the hon. member’s request. I am quite prepared to give information on this particular item to him or to any other member of the official Opposition or to any member of this House, if they are interested. I am fully prepared to do so, but I want to ask that we do this on a private basis. During my speech in the no-confidence debate I indicated that this was with regard to additional provision of this strategic mineral oil. I should like to ask hon. members not to ask me to reveal more details on this matter in public. We regard it as being top secret, and I am quite prepared to discuss it privately with any hon. member, should he want the information.
Mr. Chairman, we are happy to accept the hon. the Minister’s explanation. We were misled, if I may say so, by the description of subhead Q which appears to apply to the stabilization of the price of petrol in general. This is how it would appear from the description of the sub-head under this Vote, but in the light of the explanation he has given, we shall not press the matter any further.
Votes agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 22.—“Police”, R1 644 000:
Mr. Chairman, there are two items I should like the hon. the Minister to account for. The first one is the purchase of motor vehicles for which an amount of R554 000 is to be voted. Is this for new vehicles or does the hon. the Minister anticipate many more accidents in the next year than he anticipated last year? Secondly, there is an ex gratia payment to one E. J. Milns amounting to R20 000. Could he perhaps tell us what this is about?
Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask a question concerning sub-head L. What does the item “general”, amounting to R150 000, represent?
Under sub-head H—Medical Services, there is a very large additional amount of R430 000 which is expected to be spent and is therefore asked for. Will the hon. the Minister please give us some details of how this money is to be spent? Has he been able to increase the services for the police? Is that why he requires this amount of money?
Firstly, I want to deal with the increase of R554 000 in respect of transport. The hon. member for Durban North, who asked me the question, will be very well able to understand what it is about. It concerns the activities of our police on the borders, and more specifically in Rhodesia. For the information of the Committee, I just want to mention—the hon. member will be aware of it the minute I mention it—that we have purchased vehicles there which offer our police greater safety in regard to their transport in that vicinity, particularly from the threat of land mines. In addition a number of vehicles have been purchased which they may use for other operations. It is for this purpose that the amount is being asked for here.
The hon. member for Rosettenville asked a question arising from sub-head H, namely Medical Services. Sir, this is a sphere in which we really have many problems. During the past year the costs in this connection have continually increased. As far as I am concerned these costs fall under two heads. In the first place there are medicine, drugs, hospital costs, supplies, etc., amounting to R409 000, and in the second place there are contributions to the medical fund in respect of retirement before 1 January 1964—this is the B Fund, as it is known to the Police—which amount to R21 000. In all, this amounts to a total of R430 000. All I can say in this regard is that there is a constant increase in hospital charges, medical fees, doctors’ and specialists’ fees, and particularly the cost of medicine. It appears that the amount budgeted for under this sub-head was too low. Because of the rising costs it is therefore necessary to ask for an additional amount. This is honestly all I can say. However, I must admit in all fairness that it is a source of anxiety to me, the Commissioner of Police and the responsible officers at headquarters that there has been such an increase in the cost of medical services. However, we just cannot succeed in doing something about it. We try to save wherever possible. However, we found again this year, as has happened in the past as well, that the amount we budgeted for under this sub-head was too small and that we have to ask for an additional amount.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the hon. the Minister whether he has any breakdown of the figures to show whether or not he has spent more on increased personnel in the medical service. Was he able, for instance, to recruit more doctors, or do the present number of doctors receive a higher remuneration for the services they render?
Mr. Chairman, I fear I cannot give this information. I am not in a position to tell the hon. member. I doubt whether we have been employing more doctors. I would be inclined to say that the fees, the cost of medicines and hospital charges have gone up, but not necessarily that we have employed more doctors.
*The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg City inquired about the item “General”. The R150 000 is in respect of losses, injuries, etc. I am informed—and I accept this—that because it is required for payment in respect of losses and injuries it is an amount which cannot easily be estimated in advance. All we can say in respect of this sub-head is that it appears as the payments in respect of injuries and losses are higher than was estimated. I cannot say any more. We simply did not budget high enough for the cost under this sub-head.
I now come to the last item, namely the payment to Mr. Milns. An ex gratia payment always requires a long story, for one has to explain the circumstances. And therefore you must forgive me if I now proceed to explain to you the particulars of this case.
At the end of 1968 this Mr. Milns, who lives and farms near Komatipoort, called in the Police from Komatipoort. Warrant Officer Van Vuuren, who is at the head of that police station at Komatipoort, went to Mr. Milns’s farm. The matter concerned a certain Bantu, one John Zambo, who had stabbed another Bantu, Philemon, in the right breast with a sharp object. They then searched for this offender, John Zambo. They could not locate him that evening. They could not find him anywhere. Thereupon Warrant Officer Van Vuuren returned to his station. Before he left, he explained the operation of criminal law to Mr. Milns, told him what his powers of arrest were and under which circumstances he could use a firearm if it should become necessary to use one against a criminal. The next day Mr. Milns was informed that the Bantu, John Zambo, the one they had been looking for, was a passenger on a bus on its way to Hectorspruit. Mr. Milns pursued the bus in his car, eventually caught up with the bus and stopped it. Then he told another Bantu employed by him to tell Zambo to get off the bus, because he wanted to arrest him. Zambo got off the bus, but then he took to his heels. He ran away and Mr. Milns grabbed his, 303 and aimed a low shot at him and hit him in his left leg. Thereupon he arrested Zambo and took him to the police station. Zambo’s leg was so badly injured that it had to be amputated.
Mr. Milns then appeared in court on a criminal charge of serious assault on this Bantu, Zambo, but in the light of all the circumstances he was found not guilty and acquitted. Mr. Chairman, you will agree with me that in this case no blame whatsoever can attach to Warrant Officer Van Vuuren. In fact, I think we shall all admit he did the best that was possible in the circumstances. Zambo then brought a civil action against Mr. Milns. The civil action came up in court and the finding was that Mr. Milns had to pay Zambo damages amounting to R15 300. In addition the court fees amounted to approximately R11 853. As I have said, you will agree with me that Warrant Officer Van Vuuren did the right thing under the circumstances, and on the other hand, Mr. Milns lent the police every assistance. He tried to help the police with the arrest of a criminal— by the way, it was the man they had been looking for, this John Zambo whom he then arrested—and although the police told Mr. Milns: “Look, the action was brought against you personally and you may appeal,” it was in fact decided not to appeal. It was then felt—and I think you will agree with me on this—in the light of all the circumstances and in view of the assistance rendered by Mr. Milns to the police in arresting this criminal, that an ex gratia payment to Mr. Milns would be justified. And that was the way it happened.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 25.—“Information”, R782 000:
Mr. Chairman, there is an increase of R574 000 under subhead F, “Publicity”, and before I deal with the matter further, I wonder if the hon. the Minister would give us some indication as to what this amount is for.
The increase over the original estimate is about 11,6%. It is related to a few inevitable increases which have taken place, in the first place the growing demand for news bulletins and publications in our offices abroad. The more effective the Department of Information is, the more money it needs, for the more people make inquiries and the more people are interested, and the more publications you must have to make available to them. The more efficient the department becomes, the more money it needs to be able to meet the requirements outside. The second reason is the rising costs, particularly in the printing and film industry, and the third is the cost of the statistical yearbook which is published by us and which has become the responsibility of this department and will cost us an additional amount of more than R100 000. There are a few other items too, but these are the main reasons for the increase.
May I ask the hon. the Minister whether, amongst other things, he was also referring to Comment and Opinion, the new publication which has been introduced?
The publications to which I referred are the normal publications, which are increasing in number, and they include the new publication, Comment and Opinion, of which I have three copies here. It is included among the publications.
Sir, the hon. the Minister has replied that this amount also refers to this new publication, Comment and Opinion, which is now being published by his department. Sir, I want to say this in connection with this publication: We on this side of the House have spoken before of the need for a publication which would contain comment and representative articles from all the various South African newspapers. In this regard we referred particularly to the excellent publication German Tribune, which is printed on rice paper and is sent by air mail all over the world, and therefore contains the latest news. Sir, I have this magazine before me. I believe that the basic idea behind this is a good one because it gives people the opportunity to be informed of all views from all newspapers.
Order! The hon. member realizes, of course, that he may only discuss the reasons for the increase.
Sir, I shall obey your guidance. One of the reasons for the increase is the fact that this publication has been introduced. It is a new publication. It is really a new item. I hope you will allow me to proceed; I shall not go too far, but I should like to obtain more information from the hon. the Minister in regard to this publication. May I proceed to discuss the matter briefly?
Yes, as long as it is relevant.
I shall try to obey your ruling to the best of my ability, Sir. The hon. the Minister told us here in the House of Assembly that a publication of this nature was something which he wanted mainly for distribution in South Africa among immigrants who could not read the English or Afrikaans newspapers. I do not believe that this is the right objective for a publication such as this. I see such a publication as something which should go out to the rest of the world, which should be sent by air mail to members of Parliament and members of Congress and members of Chambers of Deputies all over the world. If it is distributed by air mail, people abroad will be able to read what happened in South Africa a week or even a few days before. In that respect I do not think that this publication is successful. I hope the hon. the Minister will say that he realizes that this is an experiment and that he will have another look at it. We on this side of the House feel that the main idea of this should be to show the rest of the world that we do have freedom of the Press in South Africa.
Mr. Chairman, I must admit that I, too, was surprised at this increase of R574 000 under this subhead, and I wondered whether this was occasioned perhaps by this one official document that we get that appears to be John Vorster’s private journal. We received one copy three weeks ago. The first three pages…
Order! I have allowed the hon. member for Orange Grove to go very far in this connection, and the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg District must not abuse this privilege.
Sir, I abide by your decision. I have another question to put to the hon. the Minister. Under subhead B, “Subsistence and Transport”, I notice that there has been a 43% increase. I wonder if the hon. the Minister can tell us what has occasioned this tremendous increase.
I am aware of your ruling, Sir, but we are dealing here with something which is entirely new in the Estimates, as though it is appearing for the first time in the Budget, and to that extent I should like to discuss this particular publication, Comment and Opinion.
Order! What subhead is the hon. member referring to?
I am referring to the heading “Publicity”. This is an entirely new innovation, as has been confirmed by the hon. the Minister. The hon. member for Orange Grove has mentioned that the basic thought behind this is good. What we have not, of course, had from the hon. the Minister is what this publication costs. It seems to be included among other things. As my colleague here says, it seems to be quite an expensive publication. But I want to join issue with the hon. the Minister on one thing, and that is that it appears to me that in respect of this publication his department has been playing politics. Let me tell you why, Sir. Last year, or the year before, I said that it would be a good thing if the dialogue that is going on in this country between White and White, and White and Black, could be reflected somehow in the official publications of the hon. the Minister’s department. [Interjections.] I raised the question of the Tribune, which gives a good cross-section of the Press, its comment, etc., in Germany. This publication, Comment and Opinion, has now been introduced and I want to tell the Minister straight out that I take exception to what I said during the relevant debate last year being used as the first item in this publication. I refuse to have this thing pinned to my coat-tails.
Order! The hon. member is going very far. He may only discuss the reasons for the increase. Policy matters may be discussed during the debate on the main Estimates.
Sir, this is an entirely new item.
Order! The hon. member must abide by my ruling.
Sir, I am prepared to abide by your ruling, but under protest.
May I ask the hon. the Minister, in reference to the item “Publicity”, whether any of this amount of R574 000 is being spent on publicity overseas, especially on the window-displays of South Africa House, which at the moment are very shabby indeed and most unattractive. This is not conducive at all to inviting people to come to our country.
I should like some elucidation from the hon. the Minister. I see that under “Subsistence and Transport” there has been an increase of R192 000 this year. Sir, the hon. the Minister, I am sure, had a very interesting trip abroad. Is this in part payment of that, with champagne and caviar, or has he any further information on that subject?
I am sorry to disappoint the hon. member for Orange Grove. My trip abroad, from which I have just returned, is not included in this amount. It was planned in advance and provision was made for it. Sir, I want to reply at once, but now I am in a difficult position. The publication was attacked by hon. members and you ruled their remarks out of order. So I just want to say two things about it as briefly as possible and content myself with that. When this matter was raised during the Budget debate last year, the hon. member for Kensington held up a certain type of publication as an example, something like the German Tribune, and so did the hon. member for Orange Grove. Members of this side also advocated something of that kind. Thereupon I investigated the matter and eventually decided to introduce this publication. Now I want to say at once that the whole object behind it was not to please the Opposition. It was simply to meet the requirement and comply with the request which was made to us by various persons and bodies, by unilingual persons in South Africa, persons who could not understand or read Afrikaans—unilingual persons who consisted of the immigrants on one hand and visitors to South Africa on the other; the same applies to many embassies in our country with ambassadors and staff who did not speak Afrikaans and who were getting a biased picture of South Africa because they could only read and understand the English newspapers. Against that background we decided to publish a balanced picture, as the hon. member can see, with quotations from all newspapers. Quotations from all the newspapers were used. I can mention them to hon. members; there are quotations, for example, from The Star, The Rand Daily Mail, Pretoria News and The Cape Times. There are also quotations from the Afrikaans newspapers. This was done so that embassies, our immigrants and other people could get a balanced picture of South Africa. I just want to tell the hon. member that this publication is a tremendous success. There is such a demand for it at the moment that I am afraid that I shall have to ask for more money next year. I now want to leave this matter at that to obey your ruling, Mr. Chairman. So I shall not furnish any further information on this. I just want to say that the publication certainly meets a need. The fact that there are so many inquiries concerning the publication illustrates the fact that it has come at the right time and that it does have the right to exist. I want to say quite frankly that I am fully prepared to discuss the principle of the publication with hon. members. We can do that next week during the discussion on the Part Appropriation Bill; that is when it should be discussed, and not now. I am prepared to give all the facts to hon. members on that occasion, if they want to discuss the matter.
Sir, could the hon. the Minister tell us approximately how many copies are being printed and what percentage of that number is intended for South Africa and what percentage will be sent overseas?
I shall give the hon. member those particulars in the next debate. I do not have them available right now. As I have said, I am prepared to discuss the matter next week, on Monday or Tuesday, and to furnish the particulars. I shall obtain them in the meantime.
A further question concerned the increase in subsistence and transport. There has been a considerable increase in subsistence and transport and in freight which was not anticipated when the draft Estimate was drawn up in 1973–’74. Hon. members all know that those costs have increased tremendously.
There is also the question of the reorganization of the department’s activities. I announced this last year. Structural changes in the department which have increased the department’s impact have caused us to incur more expenses than was anticipated. At the same time I want to tell hon. members that as a result of the energy crisis we have cut down again on all these aspects in the meantime. Tremendous savings have been effected which are not yet reflected in this figure. They are not reflected here because this figure does not cover the full period. Those savings have now been effected. This figure refers to the period before the energy crisis, when we were developing the department’s impact.
These are the two questions that were put to me. I must say that an increase of 11,6% over this period is not abnormally high if one considers all the rising costs. As I said, I should like to discuss that other matter next week.
Mr. Chairman, did I hear correctly? Was that an admission from the hon. the Minister that of the prime objectives of this new publication is to bring the views of the Afrikaans-language Press, which represents a particular political party, to the attention of the unilingual people of South Africa? Is that what he said, Sir? I should like to develop this further.
Order! The hon. members for Kensington and Orange Grove expressed criticism in regard to certain policy matters. The Minister replied to them. I will now not allow any further discussion on policy matters, even if the hon. member wants to clarify a point.
Mr. Chairman, I must obviously abide by your ruling, but I want to ask the hon. the Minister a question which I asked earlier and to which he has not yet replied. In this sum of R574 000 is included the cost of publication of this digest. What is its cost? Can he tell us?
I have said the cost of this publication is approximately R100 000. I do not have the exact figures, but approximately R100 000 of this amount has been allocated for that purpose.
Mr. Chairman, is that amount of R100 000 to be spent during this financial year, or is it an amount of R100 000 per year?
It is for this financial year.
Has that amount been spent during this financial year, on two editions?
Mr. Chairman, I asked the Minister whether any of this money provided for under sub-head F is going to be spent on advertising at South Africa House.
No. The window displays at South Africa House is not the responsibility of the Department of Information. I have no say over them.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 29.—“Social Welfare and Pensions”, R3 978 000; and S.W.A. Vote No. 16.—“Social Welfare and Pensions”, R569 000:
Mr. Chairman, with reference to the item “Social Centres” in sub-head O, I should like to know the reason for the increase of R20 000. I would also like to ask the hon. the Minister a question in regard to South-West Africa Vote No. 16. With reference to sub-head F, “Civil Pensions”, I see that the original estimate was R687 000 and that the revised estimate amounts to R1 230 000. This means that the increase we are being asked to vote amounts to R543 000. This amount far exceeds the 10% increase which has been granted to civil pensioners. Perhaps the hon. the Minister would be good enough to give us the reason for this considerable increase.
Mr. Chairman, I shall first rely to the question put by the hon. member in connection with Vote 29, sub-head O. The additional amount which is being asked for relates to the improved basis of subsidizing of social centres which has applied since 1 April 1973.
The hon. member also asked a question concerning sub-head F of South-West Africa Vote No. 16. As far as this subhead is concerned, the answer is that there has been a considerable increase in members’ contributions in recent months, with a corresponding increase in employers’ contributions. In the second place there has been increased members’ contributions and Government contributions since 1 July 1973, in accordance with the provisions of Act 57 of 1973. The hon. member will remember that we consolidated five pensions in that Act. Some of the pensions consequently required higher contributions from members as well as from the Government. We must now make provision for that. In the third place there is the expected expenditure for nine months in respect of item 2, which is now being incorporated in this item.
Votes agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 30.—“National Education”, R55 000; and Loan Vote M.—“National Education”, R50:
Could the hon. the Minister just explain to us the purpose for which these grants-in-aid to the National Cultural Society, as reflected in sub-head K, are used?
Mr. Chairman, this increase was in respect of the holiday savings bonuses which were also paid to non-salaried non-White employees of the regional councils for the Performing Arts. Usually the provinces pay half of this amount, but because of the time factor additional authorization for the entire amount is being asked for here. A settlement will of course be effected at a later stage.
Mr. Chairman, I want to ask the hon. the Minister whether it is not a case of one or two of the provinces having refused to pay this additional amount. Are they prepared to co-operate with the department later on? Will they see to it that this amount is paid every year, particularly where it concerns non-Whites in the Performing Arts?
Mr. Chairman, I think the hon. member is confusing two matters with each other. This amount is covered by the formula according to which the provinces are financed and it really has nothing to do with the other matter which the hon. member raised. If he is interested in the amount, I may say that in the case of the Transvaal Board for the Performing Arts it amounts to R12 000, in the case of the Cape Board for the Performing Arts to R14 000, in the case of the Orange Free State to R3 000 and in the case of Natal to R4 000. So it amounts to R33 000 in all.
Votes agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 31.—“Planning and the Environment”, R13 450:
Mr. Chairman, I should like to know the purpose for which this additional amount of R13 450 which is now being budgeted for in respect of the S.A. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be used. We are very sympathetically disposed towards the C.S.I.R., but we should like to know what the amount is being voted for.
The amount under this sub-head refers to a column 2 item. It deals with research projects undertaken by the C.S.I.R. on behalf of Government departments. Consequently savings on other amounts cannot be used for this. This research was undertaken for the Department of Agricultural Technical Services and is in connection with a model investigation conducted by them regarding multi-arch soil conservation dams which the department wants to have tested and investigated. The whole project will cost R28 000 and take two years to complete. This is the amount which is being requested for that purpose, because we do not yet have the necessary provision for it.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 33.—“Public Works”, R31 400; Loan Vote B—“Public Works”, R4 850; and S.W.A. Vote No. 19.—“Public Works”, R3 450:
Mr. Chairman, I first want to deal with Vote 33 in regard to the increase from R35 000 to R66 400 in the contribution to the control board of the Voortrekker Monument. I should like to have an explanation of this.
†In connection with Loan Vote B, I would like to ask the hon. the Minister whether it is correct for us to assume that where this large number of items of an additional R50 for the current financial year appear following R50 for the previous year, it in fact means that these are approved schemes on which no work has actually been done; in other words, they are still in the preliminary stages. If I am correct in that assumption I can deal with them in a more general form.
Mr. Chairman, in regard to the hon. member’s question concerning the additional R31 400 which is to be voted in respect of the Voortrekker Monument, the position is that a considerable amount had to be spent on making the monument waterproof in order to ensure that no further damage occurred. R221 000 of the cost was borne by the control board but it appeared from further investigation that the Department of Public Works had to assume responsibility for R31 400. The position in regard to these R50 items under the Loan Vote is as the hon. member assumed.
Mr. Chairman, instead of dealing with each of these items separately, I want in order to save time to take them collectively and ask the hon. the Minister whether he could indicate to the Committee what the present backlog is on approved schemes which have not yet been undertaken or commenced in any serious form. One finds pages and pages of proposed constructions for which only R50 was provided for in the last financial year and for which an additional R50 is asked in these Additional Estimates. There is no indication as to when these are likely to become reality as far as the various departments are concerned. I do not expect the hon. the Minister to go through them all in detail at this stage, but if he could give some indication as to what the globular position is in respect of these works and what the anticipated time is before these projects will become reality, it will be appreciated.
Mr. Chairman, I am afraid that the hon. member for Green Point is really asking the impossible of me, because circumstances differ from one case to another. My Department is making good progress in respect of the work which is normally done by it during the year. It is impossible for me to summarize the global position as the hon. member expects me to do. If the hon. member would rather ask me for specific examples, I could give him the information.
Mr. Chairman, this is a problem which we have had before and which I have raised in this House on several occasions in the past when dealing with the Public Works Vote. It would take an inordinate amount of time for me to stand up and ask about each project in turn what the position is, when it is likely to be constructed and what progress has been made. I want to suggest to the hon. the Minister that, if his department could lay on the Table of this House a progress statement merely indicating the planning, final plans, whether building has commenced or something of that sort in regard to each of these items, this would give members of this House and members of the public who are interested to know when these things are going to take place, the information they seek. Merely voting R50 for each item does not mean a thing. It merely means that it has been approved in principle.
I do not want to take up time by going through all of them. However, I would like to refer to one specific item, and that is in connection with the airport at George, an item occurring on page 49 of the Estimates.
This is indicated here a new service in connection with the Department of Transport, but we were informed in the House a few days ago that this was being constructed by the Department of Defence. Does it concern the Department of Transport or the Department of Defence? Is the Minister of Defence actually an agent …
Only the runways are our concern.
I see; so the Department of Defence is constructing the runways for the Department of Transport.
Mr. Chairman, I should also like to ask the hon. the Minister in connection with section (6), Health, on page 43 of the Estimates. Under the heading “Potchefstroom: Witrand Institution: Replacement of wood and iron buildings”, the estimated total cost is R7 100 000 for which an amount of R50 has been allocated. Could the hon. the Minister give us some details on this expenditure, please?
Mr. Chairman, the position with regard to the Witrand Institution appears to be that the existing wood and iron buildings were erected at the beginning of the century and can no longer be economically maintained. The buildings are quite inadequate to house the large number of patients. The first contract of the proposed service is programmed for tenders in July 1974. It has been accorded priority within the ambit of the total funds allocations under Loan Vote B.
I do not know whether the hon. member for Green Point wants me to reply further to his question. I think he got the reply he actually wanted from the hon. the Minister of Defence.
Mr. Chairman, I wonder whether the hon. the Minister would be good enough to give some progress reports in regard to the purchase and conversion of and improvements to a property to serve as a residence for the ambassador in Madrid. An amount of R750 000 was set aside. This item occurs under “Foreign Affairs” on page 43 of the Estimates. Having had the privilege of visiting our ambassador in Madrid recently, I realized the necessity of having an embassy there. I wonder whether the hon. the Minister can tell us what progress has been made and whether this figure is a realistic figure? What is likely to be expended in this particular connection?
Mr. Chairman, I have the information here. The position appears to be that the present residence is being rented, as it was not originally intended to be the ambassador’s residence. It does not meet all the basic requirements. The building is very old and in a dilapidated condition. Owing to its poor structure and condition, the lessor is not prepared to renovate and maintain it, with the result that alternative accommodation has to be provided as soon as possible. The purchase is programmed for 1974 in accordance with the priority the service has been accorded and the total funds available under Loan Vote B. It will be done in the course of this year.
Is it intended to construct a new or to purchase an existing house?
Votes agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 35.—“Mines”, R4 460 000:
Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask the hon. the Minister what this large amount is required for. Originally the amount was just under R3 million. Now an additional amount of approximately R4 500 000 is being asked for, plus a saving of slightly less than R2 million. That means that all in all an amount of slightly over R6 million is being asked for. Will the hon. the Minister please explain what this amount is intended for?
Mr. Chairman, I have not the slightest doubt that both sides of the House are strongly in favour of an intensified oil search, particularly in the light of the circumstances that have developed since October last year. Because this is so I gladly comply with the hon. member’s request. The position is that under sub-head O provision is being made for funds on the account of the development of strategic mineral resources from which SOEKOR is provided with funds for continuing and financing its activities in connection with the oil search. SOEKOR’S expenses for the financial year 1973–’74 were originally estimated at R8,9 million, which was constituted as follows. For the normal programme—that covers the approved land programme, which had reached an advanced stage at the time when the draft estimates were drawn up—the exploratory programme for marine areas and the administrative and incidental expenses, R2,6 million was budgeted. For the second phase of the sea-drilling programme R6,3 million was budgeted. These amounts make up the total of R8,9 million. During the consideration of the draft estimates and the discussions which I personally had with the Minister of Justice and his officials, together with my officials, concerning the 1973–’74 estimates, the Treasury, as a result of problems—which I shall mention to you in a minute—approved the inclusion of the necessary provision in respect of the normal programme—i.e. the R2,6 million—in the draft estimates. As far as the second phase of the sea-drilling programme is concerned, for which R6,3 million was budgeted, a final decision was withheld by the Treasury because of the fact that at that stage, i.e. when we were considering the 1973–’74 draft estimates, we did not have clarity concerning the possible subletting of the oil-rig SEDCO 135, which, if it had succeeded, would have reduced our expenses considerably. Now I just want to point out to hon. members that it is really very, very difficult, almost impossible, to make a definite and reliable estimate in advance in regard to this matter. That is because it depends on sub-leases, the recruiting of partners and various other factors. I want to mention, for example, that during the past weekend “a fish was caught”, as it is termed, in one of the holes that are being drilled at the moment. This sends up the costs tremendously. Some of the drilling materials fell into the hole, which is two miles deep. Unforeseen circumstances such as these make things very difficult. As a result of the fact that SOEKOR was unable at that stage to tell me or the Treasury what the position in respect of sub-leases and of partners would be, it was decided that the Treasury would keep money in reserve, would approve the normal R2,6 million for the programme and would then make the rest available to us on demand, as circumstances required. That was the arrangement that was then made and the provision was then included in the Estimates in that manner. Now SOEKOR has not quite succeeded in obtaining sub-leases, but SOEKOR has in fact succeeded in involving partners in the sinking of four of the boreholes which have been sunk in the sea. Therefore the greater part of the estimated cost of the second phase of the sea-drilling programme had to be borne by SOEKOR, so provision must now be made. However, there are enough savings on our estimates under other services to cover a part of this estimated cost. Consequently the amount of R4,46 million is now being requested for this sea-drilling programme on this Additional Estimate. I may tell the hon. member that the saving of R1,8 million was effected in respect of assistance to mines, the so-called marginal mines. I hope the hon. member is satisfied with my explanation.
Mr. Chairman, I want to add a few remarks. I know that hon. members are interested in the sea-drilling programme. I do not want to occupy the time of the House unnecessarily, but I want to tell hon. members that in the Orange River delta hole, where they are drilling at the moment and where a depth of 3 000 metres has already been achieved, encouraging signs of background gas have been found, and we are watching the subsequent drilling operations there with great interest. As far as the hole in Zululand is concerned, 1,5 kilometres from St. Lucia Bay, the depth is slightly over 1 000 metres at the moment and the findings have been so favourable that SOEKOR will in fact launch a further drilling programme in that area. I hope that I have raised no false expectations in saying this. I just want to say that even if that Zululand hole should be drilled to a depth of 4 000 metres and nothing should be found, the signs which have been found up to now are so encouraging that it will be possible to proceed with a further programme.
Under the same heading, Mr. Chairman, would the hon. the Minister indicate to us whether or not work has already started at the Zambezi River delta?
Mr. Chairman, the work at the Zambezi River delta has not yet started. We have experienced certain problems there about which I shall inform the hon. member. For the past few months and more, and at the moment still, drilling rights have been and are extremely difficult to obtain. I think that this is one of the scarcest articles in the world today. The same thing holds good for the personnel who have to operate the rig. We have negotiated for a rig to start at the Zambezi delta as soon as possible, but because of strikes and other problems in other countries, we are not sure at this stage when the work at the Zambezi delta will be commenced. We hope, and we are doing our very best in this regard, that the work will commence there in the not too distant future.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Vote No. 37.—“Sport and Recreation”, R74 350:
Mr. Chairman, under sub-head F provision is being made for an additional amount of R67 450. Will the hon. the Minister give us some further information on this?
Mr. Chairman, I want to say that we had a good year in sport last year, and I should like to express my thanks and appreciation to all who were concerned with it. This amount on which the hon. member now wants more information is appearing on the Estimates precisely because of the good sporting year which we all tried to promote. After the draft estimates had already been introduced, three South African sporting bodies were offered the opportunity by the various international bodies of control to present world championships in South Africa during the current financial year. My department was therefore obliged to obtain the approval of the Cabinet for certain expenses to be incurred in this connection. Among the three South African sporting bodies who applied to us for grants-in-aid was the South African Squash Association. The Association’s estimated expenditure was R50 325, of which R30 325 was expected to be raised from various sources. The application to the department was for an amount of R20 000, and after having analysed the application the department recommended that a grant-in-aid of R10 000 be made to the South African Squash Association. I am glad to be able to say that the world squash championships were held here and that they were a resounding success.
The South African Surf Life-saving Association had an estimated expenditure of R86 734, with an expected revenue of R3 000. This association, too, came to us for a grant-in-aid of R56 000. After thorough consideration we made a grant-in-aid of R18 000 to the Surf Life-saving Association. There, too, I had the privilege of being able to attend the world championships in Durban myself. Representatives from countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, the United States of America and various other countries took part in the championships in this important sport through which the lives of more than 100 000 people in the world were saved last year. May I add, too, that a person from South Africa was elected president of the world association on this occasion, and that a person from South Africa was also elected secretary of the world association, which indicates how well this R18 000 was spent, not only in the interests of sport, but also in the interests of South Africa.
Finally, Sir, the South African Amateur Trampoline Union estimated its expenditure at R43 996, and its expected revenue was R20 000. It applied to us for a grant-in-aid of R23 096. We recommended that a grant-in-aid of R15 450 be made, and in March the world championships will be held here in South Africa and once again the sportsmen and sportswomen of quite a number of countries from all over the world will come and compete here.
Finally, Sir, I want to say this: Personally I am a great believer in scientific sport research. I do not want to elaborate on this now, but I shall like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank the hon. the Minister of Finance and the Treasury for the understanding they showed, after our representations had been made, for the fact that certain amounts had to be granted for scientific sport research in the Republic of South Africa. Sir, it is no coincidence that big countries such as America are constantly producing more and better sportsmen than before. The reason lies in scientific sport research, which is concerned with diet and with certain training methods, etc., which are very interesting.
A part of this amount which now appears on the Estimates, namely R24 000, is intended for such scientific sport research. I am glad to be able to say that a considerably larger amount of money for scientific sport research will probably appear on the next Estimates. This is a new direction which offers many possibilities and which will undoubtedly hold many advantages for our country and for our sportsmen in the future.
Sir, I am quite satisfied with that explanation.
May I ask the Minister whether he is going to include bowling in future competitions?
I am a great friend of the bowlers. They have a beautiful camaraderie, and if you want to have a pleasant experience, Sir, you must visit the bowlers. But the point is that they can apply for assistance and their application will then be dealt with in the normal manner by the department and myself, and if they can make out a good case, there is no reason why they should not get assistance.
It is the best sports group in South Africa.
Vote agreed to.
Revenue Votes Nos. 38.—“Agricultural Economics and Marketing: Administration”, R89 000; 40.—“Agricultural Credit and Land Tenure”, R200 000; 41.—“Agricultural Technical Services”, R16 550; Loan Vote D.—“Agricultural Credit and Land Tenure”, R7 044; and S.W.A. Vote No. 22.—“Agricultural Economics and Marketing”, R236 000:
There is a considerable increase, under Revenue Vote No. 40, in the grant-in-aid to the Parks Board. Could the Minister just explain to us?
In the past the Parks Board has always obtained a subsidy. This is now being paid according to another formula, after investigations by the Treasury, the Department of Agricultural Credit and Land Tenure and the Parks Board. In the light of the report submitted to the Cabinet it was decided to apply a new formula as from the 1974-75 financial year in respect of the subsidizing of the Board. As far as the current financial year is concerned, it has been decided to make available to the Board an amount of R200 000 in addition to the grant of R793 000 already voted. The amount of R200 000 is intended to assist the Board, particularly in respect of additional expenditure involved in the payment of a 15% adjustment in salaries with effect from 1 April 1973 and the increasing costs of the nature conservation activities of the Board.
On page 52, Loan Vote D, there are “ex gratia payments to certain farmers in respect of alternative stock watering”. Would the hon. the Minister please explain this increase?
In the Fish/Sundays River State Water Scheme we carried out expropriations in respect of a certain Mrs. M. M. de Klerk, Messrs. B. J. and M. C. D. de Klerk and a Mr. F. P. Stegmann. We only expropriated parts of their land. Mrs. De Klerk claimed R17 750, and we granted her R15 000. The two De Klerk’s claimed R65 000 and we granted them R62 500. Mr. Stegmann claimed R16 680 and we granted him R12 000. When they again made representations we found that by our action in cutting off their ground for a dam they had to provide stock watering from a higher point. They had to pump water from the dam at high cost and we then felt it was only right to increase their compensation to an amount almost equal to what they had requested, except in the case of De Klerk. In his case we did not equal his requested amount. Because this involves more than R5 000, we must get parliamentary authorization for it, if we want to make such an ex gratia payment. That is why the amounts appear here.
Under Revenue Vote No. 41, Item “Y”, a grant-in-aid of R16 500 is being requested for the National Botanical Gardens. May I request more particulars from the Minister?
The Botanical Gardens in South Africa are State supported institutions and are administered in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act of 1969. For the implementation of its approved function, the institution has an establishment consisting of 47 White posts, 53 non-White posts and 144 non-White labourers. The non-White staff of the institution are paid according to the system of local wages, as applicable to the non-salaried non-White staff in the Public Service. On 12 December 1973 the Treasury announced that the Minister of Finance had approved the fact that from the 1972–’73 bonus year the holiday saving bonus would be paid on the same basis, as that which applies to salaried non-White employees, to non-salaried non-White employees employed by State institutions and other bodies, which implies that the bonuses are now payable to them for the first time on the bonus date in 1973.
The expenditure involved in the payment of the bonus to the non-White employees of the National Botanical Gardens of South Africa amounts to R16 500. As a result of its limited funds, the institution is not able to defray expenses either in part or by way of existing provision. Because the grant-in-aid to the Botanical Gardens represents a column 2 item it requires parliamentary authorization, and the necessary provision is consequently being included in these Estimates.
Mr. Chairman, I want to ask the hon. the Minister which botanical gardens this expenditure relates to.
It does not relate to a specific botanical garden, but the new ruling has been made generally applicable to the non-White employees. It therefore makes no difference whether it is Kirstenbosch or other botanical gardens.
Votes agreed to.
Revenue Votes Nos. 42.—“Health”, R3 930 000: and 43.—“Health: Hospitals and Institutions”, R999 000:
Mr. Chairman, subhead E of Vote 42 reads as follows: “Miscellaneous Expenses: Legacy: S.A. Medical Research Council—R180 000”. This is apparently a new item. I should like the hon. the Minister to explain to the House how a legacy can cost the Government R180 000. It seems quite strange. What sort of a legacy is this that hits us. Surely, when a man receives a legacy, it is something that comes to him. However, in this case we receive a legacy, headed “S.A. Medical Research Council”, and it is going to cost us R180 000. I wonder whether the hon. the Minister will explain this peculiar wording.
Mr. Mr. Chairman, arithmetics and auditing may sometimes seem a bit bizarre and sometimes anomalous in the way things are done, and with the Treasury one never knows. The late Mr. A. F. H. Bruhns left most of his estate to the department for the purpose of medical research. It was decided to allocate the specific sum, which amounted to R176 168,11, to the Medical Research Council, but the Treasury directed that the amount should be paid into Revenue and that provision for the same amount should be made on my department’s appropriation account whereafter it could be paid to the Medical Research Council. The amount was rounded off to R180 000 for purposes of the Estimates, but the correct amount was paid to the Medical Research Council.
Mr. Chairman, subhead F—Supplies and Services—of Vote 43 shows an increase of R905 000. I wonder if the hon. the Minister can give a breakdown of this amount and if he can indicate whether any percentage of this amount is due to an increase in the cost of drugs.
Mr. Chairman, the total sum required is R905 000. It is estimated that the provision of R7 400 000 in the main Estimates will have to be increased to R8 305 000 on the following items: Provisions, R675 000—“provisions” mainly includes food and other necessary items; clothing and uniforms, R300 000; cleaning and washing, including cleansing materials and laundry requisites, R30 000. This gives a total of R1 005 000. However, we saved an amount of R1 000 000 on the item “Medical, dental, opthalmological and surgical expenses” which resulted in the amount required in the Additional Estimates being reduced to R905 000. Medicine is a very small item, if indeed it appears at all. I did not enquire into it but I do not think that medicine and drugs are included under this sub-head. This is a specific ally provided for elsewhere in the budget. As far as sub-head F is concerned the increase is due to the following: The purchase of material for the Elizabeth Donkin laundry taken over on 1 July 1973, the increase in prices of cleaning agents and the more frequent cleaning of wards in order to improve conditions there. I have really repeated what I said at the start, but in more detail.
Mr. Chairman, I want to refer to Vote 42, sub-head J. I shall be grateful if the hon. the Minister can tell the House whether this large increase of over R2 million for District Medical and Nursing Services is due to an actual increase in personnel, whether it is due to an increase in costs to pay the present personnel or whether it is due to these two factors combined.
Actually the increase is due to both factors.
*I just want to explain that under subhead J, “District Medical and Nursing Services”, and under sub-head L, to which I want to refer in passing, there is a joint payment to local authorities for services they furnish in respect of tuberculosis, etc. As a result of a legal amendment last year, when section 50(1)(d) of Act No. 36 of 1919 was amended by Act No. 62 of 1973, certain items previously under sub-head L will now come under sub-head J. In other words, we now pay for District Medical and Nursing Services under sub-head J. This relates to services furnished outside when district nurses perform medical services in respect of out-patients—which are actually outside services—outside and not in institutions. Under “Institutions” there was a considerable saving, but the total amount of these two sub-heads is about R18 million. The total increase now amounts to about R2 million. The increase is therefore the result of the purchase of preparations and as a result of the fact that we have to employ more people. The said services actually embody all the services that are furnished. This also includes the amount that has to be repaid to local authorities, and the other portion is for services we furnish ourselves.
Votes agreed to.
S.W.A. Vote No. 12.—“Water Affairs”, R1 526 500:
Mr. Chairman, I should like to put a question to the hon. the Minister who is deputizing for the hon. the Minister of Water Affairs. Under sub-head K, “Government Water Schemes”, there is an increase of more than R1 million. Could the hon. the Minister explain to us the reasons for this?
Mr. Chairman, the estimated increase of more than R1 million for the financial year 1973–’74 in respect of this sub-head is the net result of several increases and decreases. The most important increases can be summed up as follows. The increase at the Hardap Scheme at Mariental amounted to R400 000. The increase at the Naute Dam amounted to R200 000. The increase at the Omaruru River Regional Water Supply Scheme amounted to R300 000. The Central Namib Scheme’s First phase cost us an additional R600 000. The Central Regional Water Supply Scheme cost us R160 000. In the case of three of the schemes, contracts during the financial year 1972–’73 did not progress according to expectations, and essential contract payments had to be made during the present financial year. With respect to the other two schemes, the Omaruru River Scheme and the Central Namib Scheme, the work has had to be speeded up because of the urgency of the schemes, so that the demand for water could be dealt with. It is expected that the amounts provided will not be sufficient to cover the expenses. That is why the additional amount is being requested.
Vote agreed to.
Schedules accordingly agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr. Chairman, I move the following amendment—
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Mr. Chairman, clause 4 is now bringing the commandos into exactly the same situation as the Citizen Force, something to which I think all those who are interested in our defence have looked forward for a long time. We are bringing the commitments for training, the training periods, and all the conditions which govern service in a commando under this and following clauses precisely into line with those applicable to a normal Citizen Force unit. Although I do not suggest amending this Bill, I want to throw the thought in for consideration that now that the service, the period and the type of training are going to be exactly the same, we should use the title “Commando” in its true meaning and in the role in which it has become an historic word in the forces of all the Western countries of the world. A commando is recognized everywhere in the world as being a top assault force, comprizing the most highly trained men, trained in the highest skills and used for the toughest jobs. This is something that South Africa has given to the world. It is our name, it is something South African which the world has adopted in their languages and in their military traditions as something to be really proud of. I wonder if we should not start thinking now, for the future, of giving the term “Commando” in our defence system, the same connotation and of regarding the present commandos and the Citizen Force all as one force. There is no doubt that there has been some friction, some jealousy, between the Citizen Force and the Commando’s. You will find that the Commando’s say to you: “The Citizen Force gets everything”, and the Citizen Force say to you: “The Commando’s get first choice; they are the blue-eyed boys”. This differentiation tends to create a jealousy between the two Forces. Would we not be better off with one Citizen Force, performing different duties, both the Commando’s and the Citizen Force having their specific role to play? Within the Citizen Force itself, different units perform different roles. Certain units perform particular jobs and one does not change the nomenclature within the Commando’s or the Citizen Force. While I am not suggesting that we should do it in this Bill, this Bill now makes it possible for us to unify our Citizen Forces into one entity without differentiation. Then one can retain the word “Commando” in the sense of a highly trained, highly specialized assault force which is the meaning one attaches to it internationally whenever one talks of a Commando. I mention for consideration as something to which we might perhaps start giving thought in the future.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member quite rightly said that we should not make provision for such amendments in this Bill. There is a great deal to be said for our looking again at the whole system in the light of the new dispensation with respect to training, but I would not like to bind myself, at this early stage, and undertake that I shall adopt the hon. member’s trend of thought. I think that changes will set in as a result of the new training system, but we shall have to take a look at this, in time, in the light of practical consequences.
Clause agreed to.
Mr. Chairman, I wonder if the hon. the Minister perhaps has with him or available to him the scale of compensation which will now be payable to the widows of members of the Citizen Force or the Commando’s should such members be killed, or to such members themselves who are disabled in terms of the new definition which we have introduced and its application to section 145 of the Act. It would be of interest if we could know that scale of compensation. The previous scales, which were applicable before this amendment was introduced, were, to my mind, pathetically inadequate and we are very glad that this amendment has been made. In fact, we thought it would be made last year in the 1973 amending Act but it was not. I hope that what the hon. the Minister may now tell us will remove the dissatisfaction that there was under the old provisions. I hope it will show, too, that we in South Africa are prepared to pay the price in material value for the sacrifices men make in defending our country.
Mr. Chairman, I have a few examples here. A member of the Citizen Force or Commandos, who is declared 100% medically unfit as a result of military service will, in the first place, in the case of an unmarried person, receive a basic allowance, a basic pension of R54 per month which can be supplemented to a maximum of R120 per month if the person cannot work as a result of his disablement. Over and above the basic pension, a bonus of 40% is payable. In the case of a married person …
Is that 40% over and above the R120?
No, over and above his basic pension. In the case of a married person his monthly pension would depend on the size of his family and on other factors, like the use of artificial limbs, etc. In the case of a married person with two children it can be as high as R258. To the widow of a member who dies while performing military service, the following benefits will accrue: A basic pension that varies from R60,48 per month—a bonus of 40% included—to R93, bonus included. If there are children, the pension will be considerably higher. It depends on how many children there are. In addition a gratuity of R264 is paid to the widow and R88 per child. There is consequently (a) a basic pension with fringe benefits for the children and (b) a gratuity of R264 to the widow plus R88 per child. That is what applies to the Citizen Force and the Commandos. A member of the Permanent Force who becomes medically disabled as a result of operational service also receives, in additional to the said benefits in terms of the War Pensions Act, his normal pension benefits, gratuity and annuity from the Government Service Pension Fund which he is a member of. In case of death, that member’s widow also receives double benefits.
Clause agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Report Stage taken without debate.
Bill read a Third Time.
Committee Stage taken without debate.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill read a Third Time.
Committee Stage taken without debate.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill read a Third Time.
I put clause 1.
Mr. Chairman, there is no Minister here.
Mr. Chairman, as the hon. the Minister in charge of the Bill has just come in, may I ask him to explain to us the purpose of clause 1?
Clause agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr. Chairman, I move the following amendments to this clause:
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage taken without debate.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
Mr. Speaker, I should like to explain the object of this Bill to the House very briefly. In the first instance this Bill contains a few amendments to the text of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964. As far as clause 1 is concerned, section 32 of the said Act provides how the strength of any spirits (ethyl alcohol) shall be ascertained. It is provided, inter alia, that Sikes’ hydrometer and the tables used with such hydrometers, shall be applied to ascertain the strength of any spirits prepared in the Republic. Since the existing tables are compiled on the basis of the imperial system of weights and measures and are therefore not suitable for use in the metric system of measuring units, new tables have been prepared by the Department of Customs and Excise to be used in conjunction with the hydrometer. Interested parties, inter alia the K.W.V., which were consulted in this regard, accept the tables, and it is intended to prescribe their use in the regulations which are made in terms of the said Act. In order to allow this it is being proposed that section 32 of the Act be amended.
In clauses 2 to 4 it is being proposed that sections 47(3) and 49 be amended and sections 50 and 52 deleted. These sections (in conjunction with certain others) determine the rates of customs duty applicable and the circumstances under which South Africa may conclude trade agreements with other countries. As far as South Africa’s foreign trade is concerned, the principal agreement is of course, as hon. members know, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to which reference is made in the Geneva General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Act, 1948. It is in conflict with the provisions of GATT to conclude agreements at rates of duty lower than the most favoured nation rates. The Ottowa Agreement, which was concluded by Commonwealth countries, and which makes provision for the so-called “preferential” rates of duty is, however, excluded from this provision.
In terms of section 47(3) of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964, the most favoured nation rates of duty shall be applied to all goods imported from a territory entitled to most favoured nation privileges. Occasionally, however, it may be in South Africa’s interests to conclude agreements in terms of which only specific goods, in contrast to all goods, are allowed the most favoured nation rates of duty. The section is now being amended to provide that, where agreements so stipulate, the most favoured nation rates of duty may only be applied to the specific goods mentioned in the agreement, and not to all goods in which trade is being carried on with that country.
Section 49 provides that the State President may conclude an agreement in respect of rates of duty lower than the general rates of duty with the Government of any territory in consideration of equivalent treatment in respect of goods exported from the Republic. In certain cases it may similarly be in South Africa’s interests to receive other privileges in consideration thereof—privileges other than favoured or lower scales—and the section is now being amended to make provision for such circumstances.
†Section 50 makes provision for the conclusion of agreements at rates of duty lower than the most favoured nation rates of duty (i.e. at “preferential rates” of duty). It is contrary to GATT to conclude further such agreements, and amendments to existing ones can be made in terms of section 49. Section 50 therefore serves no further purpose and can be repealed, because it has become redundant.
In terms of section 52 any agreement concluded under the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act of 1964 must be ratified by Parliament. This was done in the case of the main trade agreement of South Africa, namely GATT. Thereafter amendments of and additions to the Tariff Schedule to the said Agreement have been and are negotiated from time to time. These amendments and additions are, however, not subject to parliamentary approval. The necessity for section 52 has therefore to a large extent fallen away. It is, however, possible that the Government may regard it as advisable on occasion to enter into bilateral agreements with countries which are not members of GATT and which would only be prepared to conclude such agreements if the minimum publicity is given thereto. In these circumstances, and having regard to the fact that the statutory requirement here concerned is a legacy of the past, when different circumstances in regard to the country’s trade relations obtained, it is proposed that section 52 be repealed as well. It should be added that in concluding a trade agreement any country sees to it that it receives an equitable quid pro quo for privileges given to the other party or parties concerned. If bilateral agreements should therefore be necessary it can be assumed that the Government of the day will ensure that there is a reasonable balance of rights and obligations and that the agreements are in the best interests of South Africa.
*May I just say in conclusion that, if the occasion should arise, I am personally quite prepared to give hon. members this information personally when it is not in the interests of the country that general publicity be given to the matter.
First I should like to thank the hon. the Deputy Minister for the offer he has made. We appreciate it. The Bill really deals with two different aspects of our legislation. The first relates to the strength of spirits for duty purposes, and here there is quite a vital change in the Act in that in future the strength of any spirit or spirituous preparation shall, for duty purposes, be ascertained in the manner prescribed by the Minister. Now, this is not the position at present. The Act itself lays down certain rules for determining the strength of spirits for duty purposes, but the right is given in certain cases for amendments to be made by, I think, the Secretary.
Yes, it is a delegated power.
We believe that it is satisfactory that the Minister should have these rights so that we do not have to go through tortuous procedures to change the definitions as may be required from time to time.
The second aspect of the Bill deals with the customs duties and trade agreements with other countries. Here we are moving in modern times and it is necessary from time to time that these matters should be updated, and I think this is what this Bill does. It takes care of provisions which might well be in the interests of South Africa, and under those circumstances we support the Bill.
I am rising only to say thank you very much to the hon. member for the co-operation of the Opposition. I do also think this legislation is being accepted in the spirit of co-operation in the general interest of our country.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Committee Stage taken without debate.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
As hon. members know it is intended to amend the Motor Carrier Transportation Act, 1930, in such a way that lift clubs are excluded from the provisions of that Act so as to encourage the use of private motor vehicles for this purpose, thus saving petrol. To a certain extent it could also help alleviate the heavy traffic in cities.
A factor to which thorough consideration must be given, however, is the fact that passengers are not covered in terms of the provisions of the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act in the case of an accident which happens as a result of the negligence of the driver of the motor vehicle in which they are travelling except when such passengers are, inter alia, being conveyed for reward. Consequently passengers who are not being conveyed for reward, are not covered under Act 56 of 1972 and in the case of an accident only have a claim for damages against the driver of such motor vehicle under common law.
These circumstances could possibly contribute to defeating the object of lift clubs, and for that reason it is necessary to amend the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act to make provision for the payment of damages in respect of passengers when they are being conveyed within the scope of the concept of a lift club as envisaged in the amendment to the Motor Carrier Transportation Act. The former amendment seeks to indemnify the driver of the motor vehicle concerned against claims under common law to the extent to which the subsequent explanation will indicate.
Section 1 of the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act is therefore being amended by inserting a provision to the effect that the conveyance of any person in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (f) or (fA) of the definition of “motor transportation” in section 1 of the Motor Carrier Transportation Act, 1930, shall be deemed to be conveyance of that person for reward. This means that although lift clubs are excluded from the provisions of the Motor Carrier Transportation Act, such reciprocal conveyance does, for the purposes of the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act, take place for reward, and the passengers will consequently be covered by the provisions of section 22(1) of the latter Act.
Section 22(1) provides that where any person is being conveyed for reward or in the course of the business or employ of the owner or driver of a motor vehicle who causes an accident, the third party is entitled to compensation in terms of the provisions of section 21. However, the liability of the authorized insurer in question is in this case limited to the sum of R12 000 where one person is involved in an accident and R60 000 in all, where more than one person is involved. Any compensation which will be payable in respect of any injuries to or the death of passengers conveyed for the purposes of lift clubs, and where the accident is caused by the negligence of the owner or driver of the vehicle in which they are being conveyed, will therefore be limited to the same extent.
As hon. members know, negligence on the part of the other driver of a motor vehicle is a prerequisite for the payment of damages to the occupants of the first motor vehicle except, as I have already explained, that when passengers are being conveyed for reward, such passengers are also covered when an accident is caused through the negligence of the driver of that motor vehicle in which they are travelling. The amendment to the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act which I am proposing, seeks to afford the passengers who are members of a lift club the necessary cover. By virtue of the fact, however, that the motor vehicles which are being used for the purposes of a lift club must be the property of the various members of such a club, a person who is not the owner of a motor vehicle cannot be a member of a lift club. Consequently this also entails that passengers who are being conveyed even on a reciprocal basis will not necessarily be covered in terms of the intended amendment to the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act. In other words, when parents, for example, take turns in conveying the children of their neighbours and friends to and from school, the passengers will unfortunately, under those circumstances, not be covered under Act 56 of 1972, and provision in this regard has to be made by means of comprehensive insurance.
Hon. members will agree with me that the provision for the payment of damages cannot be made so extensive as to ensure that all passengers are covered in terms of the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act under all circumstances. Illegal transportation, particularly pirate taxis, is already assuming such proportions among a certain group of the population, that it was recently necessary to expand the establishment of the relevant division of the Department of Transport in an attempt to exercise better control over this phenomenon, and if the Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance Act were now amended more extensively to include in addition those persons who do not themselves have motor vehicles of which they are the owners, it could only give further encouragement to illegal transportation.
Mr. Chairman, we shall support this measure although it has been before us only for a very short time indeed. It is necessary to give this protection to those who will fall under lift clubs, which I shall deal with when we come to the next item on the Order Paper. I should like to refer to the question of the cover under Compulsory Motor Vehicle Insurance referred to by the hon. the Deputy Minister in respect of parents who fetch children from school. Here we are providing for lift clubs as such. As the hon. the Minister has pointed out that only covers the owner of a motor car who carries another motorist for the purpose of in turn being carried by the passenger. As the hon. the Deputy Minister has explained, it does not cover children where parents pick them up in turn. I should like to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister to reconsider this. I realize that you cannot have complete cover of every case, but I think to a layman and to the average motorist there is a feeling that you have to pay your third party insurance, but in fact it is only on rare occasions that you are protected. There are so many exclusions, so many things that are not covered, that the general feeling exists amongst motorists that this is something which they have to pay, but which is in fact of no use to them as protection. Here is a specific case where we are providing for a specific problem, that of conveying other people without money passing, but as a reward for in turn being conveyed. Surely it will be a simple thing to include school children who are fetched in lift clubs in the same way? It is a lift club, although the child you are conveying is not going to convey you the next week. The father or mother of the child is going to convey your child and it does not seem beyond the ingenuity of the Government to be able to provide for that whilst this is being done. I would not have suggested it if it was not that we have this Bill before us. We are making provision for a very similar circumstance, and surely we can have another clause that would cover that situation? I say this because more and more children have to travel long distances to schools. A great deal of lifting according to this lift club system is going on at present. It is done at boarding schools where children go home every week-end, especially in the country districts, and it is being done daily in many of the urban areas. It seems reasonable to me that where you covering this sort of club, you should be able to cover the other. I would like to ask the hon. the Minister to reconsider this. It cannot lead to any evil if it is specified as a form of lift club. With those remarks I wish to say that we support the Second Reading of this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I have sympathy for the standpoint adopted by the hon. member for Durban Point in respect of providing lifts for children on a reciprocal basis, on the basis of a lift club. However, I am confronted by the practical problems that we have experienced in this regard of people who take advantage of the lift system. I referred specifically in my Second Reading speech to pirate taxis and their activities. There is no opportunity now to discuss this in detail, but I can, however, give the assurance that it is a great source of concern to my department. We have, as I have mentioned, already expanded the establishment to deal with this evil. In certain centres in our country this phenomenon is assuming shocking proportions. In addition to that there are various other facets of the same problem. Now one is confronted by the practical problem that if one were to make the provisions of this measure more comprehensive in respect of other passengers apart from passengers who are provided with lifts on a reciprocal basis, one would be dealing with the definition of “passengers”. Naturally I accept that the hon. member does not want this to include persons other than school children. As soon as one extends this concept one is dealing with specific definitions. Then one is creating, and unfortunately we have experience of this as well, a number of loopholes. Then certain people provide other people with lifts under the pretence that they are schoolchildren and under the pretence that their wives are members of a club. We have no means of identifying the persons, the passengers. I am just afraid that with the limited means at our disposal for exercising control on this level we will be opening up a loophole which would give us endless difficulty. I should like to give the House the assurance that I am going to consider this aspect once again. If it should appear that we can find solutions to this problem, we would very much like to do so and bring them to this House, for the primary object of this measure, together with the Bill which comprises the next Order of the Day, is to authorize lift clubs and bring about a saving of fuel. I should like to give the House the assurance that we shall gladly to anything we are able to do in this regard to create the statutory means. At this stage, however, I regret that I cannot accept the suggestion of the hon. member.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
The object of the proposed amendment is principally to exclude the conveyance of persons by means of lift clubs from the definition of “Motor Carrier Transportation” in section 1 of Act 39 of 1930, so that it will not be necessary for members of lift clubs to apply to the local transportation boards for authorization.
It will consequently indemnify them from complying, as in the case of public transportation services, with certain requirements, viz. that the drivers shall possess public drivers’ licences, that the vehicles shall be tested for roadworthiness every six months, and that the higher third party rates which are applicable to taxis shall be paid.
In this way I think that people who use their vehicles regularly to travel to work are being encouraged to form lift clubs, and in that way are contributing a great deal to saving fuel. A prerequisite is of course that every member of such a lift club shall use his own vehicle to convey the other members of the club on a reciprocal basis, and that the members may not remunerate one another in any other way.
Mr. Speaker, the principle of this Bill is naturally one which we support. In fact, what concerns us, is that it is only now being brought before the House. I should like to raise two matters with the hon. the Deputy Minister in connection with this question. Firstly, have there been any prosecutions in respect of illegal lift clubs that have been operating since, say, October of last year? Immediately the petrol shortage occurred—let us remember that in October we were told by the hon. the Prime Minister that there was no shortage and no thought of rationing, but in November we had a crisis—there was reference to the lift club system being allowed. Since November, three and a half months have passed, three and a half months in which I do not believe many lift clubs have in fact been formed because we have been waiting for this legislation. It will be interesting to know whether in fact the hon. the Minister halted any prosecutions administratively or whether there were any such cases.
The other aspect I want to raise is the question of the wording of the definition. Mention was made of loopholes which can be used by pirate taxis, etc. but I wonder if this definition is not creating loopholes. There is no requirement here for any sort of evidence of agreement. It simply says “the conveyance by any person, by means of a motor vehicle of which he is the owner, of any other person as a consideration for similar conveyance of the first mentioned person …”. Should there not be any indication that this should be a firm undertaking? Can this apply to any casual giving of a lift provided one gets a lift in return? Take the case of a hitchhiker, for instance. You pick up a hitchhiker on the road and he says: “Right, I shall give you a lift next January on my way back to Cape Town from Johannesburg.” Would that be covered? Is this definition so wide that in fact such an event could occur? I want to see these lift clubs come into being, but I would not like to see them come about in a way which can possibly create abuses by those who use them in order to circumvent the law.
I shall also like to ask the hon. the Minister to tell us whether he has any plans to encourage the formation and use of lift clubs once this measure has been passed. It is no use our merely passing a bill here which then becomes law, since I believe more than a mere bill is necessary. There should be a publicity campaign, a propaganda campaign. The South African Broadcasting Corporation should be brought into it and everything should be done to encourage the formation of lift clubs. If one travels along any road leading into town, one sees a stream of cars with one person in each. If each of those cars carried four people, just think not only of the saving in petrol, but of the congestion which would be eliminated from the roads and the accidents that could be eliminated. We have the opportunity to press this matter now, not only as a petrol-saving measure, but also as a measure to combat the congestion which is throttling the communications in every major city of South Africa. The cities are slowly being strangled by traffic congestion. Lift clubs could take half or three-quarters of that traffic off the roads. Therefore I hope that the hon. the Minister will tell us that he is going to embark on a major campaign to try to encourage the formation and use of lift clubs.
Mr. Speaker, first of all I wish to give the hon. member for Durban Point the assurance that there were no illegal lift clubs and no prosecutions were instituted at all. If anything of that nature came to my notice, I would have made the necessary application to the Attorneys-General but fortunately nothing of the sort happened.
Secondly, there is the question of casual lift clubs. The necessary regulations will have to be framed in terms of the previous Bill, to which I moved an amendment. Lift clubs will have to register themselves with the third party insurance companies, so that you will have a positive identification of persons belonging to such a club to avoid abuses as far as possible. This will be done at no additional cost whatsoever. They will have to register the rest of the club members. When they take out their third party insurance, they will have to furnish a list of the members belonging to that specific lift club in order that they can be positively identified in the case of claims. I think that that is as far as we can go at this stage. We will see how it works. I am, of course, relying very heavily on the support and the co-operation of the general public.
Thirdly, there is the question of publicising the fact that we intend constituting such lift clubs. I did consider at one stage to make a Press statement to this effect, but I thought this House was the best platform I could possibly use to publicise the fact and give replies to questions. I can only call upon the newspapers who individually have endeavoured to make propaganda for such lift clubs, to use this occasion to publicise the fact widely.
I also wish to call upon the SABC to make full use of the information that is now available, and at the same time extend to all of them, newspapers as well as the broadcasting corporation, an invitation that, should they require any more information, my department and I myself will very gladly supply them with whatever information they might require in this regard. Therefore, I hope that the mere introduction of this Bill in this House will serve the purpose of publicising the existence of this legislation and make it very well known throughout the country.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
Since the date of commencement, namely 1 January 1960, of the Merchant Shipping Act, No. 57 of 1951, several amendments have been assented to. It has now become necessary to propose further amendments with a view to the rectification of certain shortcomings which have come to light and generally in order to improve control measures and simplify administration. I may add that the Government departments concerned and shipping interests in South Africa have been consulted and that general agreement on the Bill has been arrived at.
For the purpose of clarification, I will deal with each clause of the Bill seriatim. Clause 1 provides for an amendment of a definition contained in section 2 of the principal Act and for the insertion of the new definition. This will facilitate administration of the Act both within and outside the Republic. My department has marine sub-offices at the principal ports in the Republic, namely Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Saldanha and Walvis Bay. The officers in charge of such offices are referred to as “principal officers” and for the purpose of the exercise of their statutory powers under the Act, it has been found expedient to define the expression “principal officer”. Coupled with the insertion of this new definition a consequential amendment of the existing definition of “proper officer” becomes necessary. The latter expression includes a principal officer or where there is no such officer, a Controller of Customs and Excise, to be responsible for the discharge of their duties in accordance with the principal Act.
Further provision is made in this clause for the designation at departmental level of “proper officer” and for such designation to be in respect of a place or an area. These amendments are designed to streamline and facilitate administration and to delimitate, where necessary, the extent of a particular proper officer’s jurisdiction.
Provision is made under clause 2 for an amendment of section 167 of the principal Act to provide for the prescription of the classes of South African ships on which adequate supplies, according to prescribed scales, of antiscorbutics and medicines and appliances for the treatment and prevention of diseases and accidents likely to occur at sea and of first-aid equipment which must be carried. The proposed amendments are in the interests of safety and the effect thereof will, inter alia, extend the control measures contemplated under the section in question to South African ships of less than 100 gross register tons. The latter class of ship is at present excluded from the requirement to carry antiscorbutics, medicines and appliances for the treatment and prevention of diseases and accidents likely to occur at sea.
Section 232 of the principal Act will be amended in terms of clause 3 to strengthen the existing control measures in regard to the use or display of distress signals. The effect of the amendment will be to extend the control measures to all vessels registered or licensed in the Republic and to any other vessel within the Republic or the territorial waters thereof; moreover, to the use or display of such signals on land within the Republic from which they can be seen from the sea. These amendments are necessary in the interests of safety and search and rescue operations.
Under clause 4 section 269 of the principal Act will be amended to extend the powers of a Court of Marine Inquiry regarding the cancellation or suspension of a certificate of competency of any master or ship’s officer or the prohibition of the employment of a master or ship’s officer. The proviso to the section in question limits the effect of such cancellation, suspension or prohibition, i.e. to the capacity in which the master or officer served at the time of the event which gave rise to the cancellation, suspension or prohibition as the case may be, or in respect of a higher capacity. Circumvention has in consequence on occasions resulted and the proposed amendment is designed to prevent such an occurrence.
In terms of clause 5 section 273 of the principal Act is amended for the same purpose and for the same reasons as contemplated under clause 4. The proposed amendment extends the powers of Maritime Courts.
The proposed amendments under clause 6 need no specific elucidation other than a general observation that empowering provision to prescribe by regulation certain of the extended powers proposed under the amending Bill, is necessary.
Mr. Chairman, we support this measure. In fact, we will support any steps which will help to increase the safety of men at sea. There have been many very tragic accidents along the coast of South Africa, accidents in which many lives have been lost, and any steps which this Parliament can take to improve safety measures and to improve the conditions under which people go to sea, will enjoy our support. We accept, therefore, what is a fairly drastic provision in clause 4. All I would like to raise and have on record is that the extension of the power to take away a certificate of competency should be confined to the offence for which the person has been convicted. In other words, it would be unfair, if a person were convicted of a navigational offence, to refuse him all right to go to sea, even perhaps as a purser or as a steward. For a seaman whose life is the sea, that is his only occupation.
We appreciate the necessity of placing some restriction upon a man who, for instance, was a master and caused an accident through negligence in navigation. After his master certificate has been taken away or suspended for a period for that offence, he should not be allowed to come back as a first officer and perform exactly the same duties under a different title and rank. We appreciate that that must be stopped. But the punishment should not go beyond placing a limitation upon the person concerned to perform duties within the area in which he was guilty of an offence. I hope the hon. the Deputy Minister will be able to give an assurance in regard to this aspect. It would be quite unfair to debar a man entirely from going to sea, although it would be fair to say to him: “You have been negligent; you have been punished in this field and you may therefore not operate in this field for six months or a year” or whatever the period may be.
Sir, clause 3 is one which I think is very necessary. This deals with the question of using distress signals. The sea rescue organizations are often called out on false alarms. These are manned by volunteers who give up their time and their energy to save lives at sea. Some stupid oaf lets off a distress signal as though it were a firework, and out comes 20 or 30 men, rushing off to effect a rescue just because some person has been playing the fool. Sir, I hope the people who make use irresponsibly of distress signals upon which lives can depend, will, if prosecuted and convicted, receive the maximum punishment. Life at sea often depends on a single signal, and if these signals are abused, it reduces the effectiveness of the genuine distress signal.
The prescription of first aid and drugs for ships under 100 ton is a reasonable provision, which we support, as also the provisions of clause 6. Mr. Speaker, we will consequently support this Bill at the Second Reading and at its subsequent stages.
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the support of this measure coming from the official Opposition. I wish to thank the hon. member for Durban Point for his remarks and underline his comments regarding the use or the abuse of distress signals. I hope this matter will receive the necessary publicity through our public media. With regard to the assurance which he requires from me, this is merely a matter dealing with the powers of a court of marine inquiry. It has been found in the past that a ship’s officer sometimes acts in a lower grade, e.g. as first officer or navigational officer, and that he commits an offence in the performance of such duties. If he was convicted, the court of inquiry was only empowered to take away his most senior certificate. If he was the holder of a master certificate, the court of inquiry was only empowered to take away the master certificate. That left him with the very certificate under which he was acting when he committed this offence. I can only say, with regard to the hon. member’s request for an assurance from me, that I am not prepared to interfere with the jurisdiction of the court in this case. It is left entirely to the discretion of the courts, but they are now being empowered to take away certificates other than the senior one.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
Mr. Speaker, after the commencement of the Weather Modification Control Act, 1972 (Act No. 78 of 1972), it became clear that for the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act, it was necessary to amend section 3, 4 and 7 of that Act.
The present provisions of section 3 limits the issue of permits to individuals. The envisaged amendment will also make it possible to issue permits to any juristic persons, for example companies, which may in practice appear to be necessary.
Section 4 (1) of the principal Act is being substituted by this clause to bring it into line with the envisaged amendment of section 3 of the principal Act as contained in clause 1.
This clause substitutes section 7 of the principal Act. As the existing section of the principal Act reads, a person to whom a permit is issued is prohibited from commencing the operations authorized by the permit unless he has, not earlier than six weeks and not later than three weeks before such operations are to be carried out, given notice in the manner prescribed of his intention to do so. The envisaged amendment will afford objectors an opportunity of lodging their objections before the licensee comes into possession of a permit, and will eliminate delay in the commencement of operations by the permit holder.
Mr. Speaker, with this I think I have discussed the proposed amendments as fully as possible, but if hon. members so require I shall gladly furnish them with further explanations.
Sir, I must admit that I am rather at sea when we come to this measure, more so than I was when dealing with the measure which dealt with the sea. I am one of those old-fashioned people who do not believe in these newfangled ideas of shooting darts at clouds or spraying dry ice on the clouds in the hope that it is going to make rain. Therefore one of our agricultural group, who is more au fait with the details, will discuss certain technical matters. I rise only to say that in respect of the principle that a juristic person, in other words an organization, provided it has in its employ a person with the requisite skills, may be empowered to fiddle with the weather. We have no objection to that principle. I only hope that it was not somebody shooting darts at the clouds which caused the floods at Stanger last week or the floods in the Orange River. I do not know what is happening to the weather these days. Something funny is happening, but whether it is atom bombs or people trying to change the weather, I do not know. But as long as the hon. the Minister wants to modify the weather, I ask him to please to stop modifying it into floods.
As the hon. member for Durban Point has pointed out, we support this measure. We have no serious problem with it. I believe that the hon. member for Durban Point’s problems will disappear one day when our weather modification machinery has reached such a standard that we will in fact be able to prevent the serious floods such as we have had in Natal recently. So this matter has a very useful angle to it.
My query to the Minister is this. He is now making it possible for a juristic person, a company, to get permits to modify weather in South Africa, which naturally includes the suppression of hail. It has happened that overseas companies have come to South Africa and have engaged in fairly expensive activities mainly in respect of the suppression of hail. It is not clear from this Bill or in the Act, as far as I know, and therefore this is my question to the hon. the Minister: “Is it compulsory for these juristic persons who are referred to here, or for private persons, to give all the scientific results which arise from the experiments and from the activities they carry out, to the State or to whatever authority is concerned with weather modification in South Africa?” Because I fear it does happen that big sums of money are being collected for these companies and they then go back to the countries from whence they came and we are left with precious little information after having spent quite a lot of money, and without having got any really adequate returns for the outlay we have made. I want to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister whether he intends encouraging, through this measure, overseas companies to do extensive weather modification projects in South Africa.
Mr. Speaker, this measure actually had its origin in an undertaking I gave to one of the organizations in the country dealing with weather modification, to be specific, with the suppression of hail in the far Eastern Transvaal. Whereas previously, as the Act read, we were dealing with a person—a private individual therefore—this measure is now being introduced to make it possible for a co-operative organization, a company established for this purpose or any juristic person, to undertake weather modification as well. As the hon. member for Walmer knows, there are overseas companies which are undertaking certain work in South Africa on a contract basis since we are still on the eve of a new, strange era. The hon. member asked me what requirements we set for them. One of the requirements we do in fact set for them is that any scientific data which they may collect, which may have a bearing on the activities that they are carrying out, shall be made available to my department for evaluation. We state this condition expressly in their permits. We go further by also requiring that a person, whose qualifications satisfy the officials of my department, must be associated with such an organization or company so that we may be assured that the kind of material and the way in which he makes the material available to us complies with certain norms. These norms are for the most part determined internationally at conferences. My Department intends placing its research on a higher level, and in the years which lie ahead we will probably ask the House for ever increasing sums of money for research of this kind. We are dealing with a tremendous, complicated problem in regard to which knowledge is internationally—not only in South Africa but also in the United States of America and other countries—still at a low level. Those countries admit it themselves. For that reason we want, on the one hand, to encourage entrepreneurs by affording them an opportunity of doing research and undertaking projects, but on the other hand we owe it to the public of South Africa to guard very carefully against any malpractices taking place, to guard against any reckless experiments being carried out, and to ensure that nothing will occur which will in fact confirm the fears of the hon. member for Durban Point that floods and an imbalance will be caused. Consequently I want to give the hon. member for Walmer the assurance that these aspects will be watched very carefully and that nothing will be allowed which will create chaos in dealing with a complicated scientific process.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
From the National Roads Amendment Bill, 1974, hon. members will notice that provision is being made for the amendment of the National Roads Act, 1971 (Act 54 of 1971) with respect to:
- (a) the designation by the Minister of all the land which, whether before or after the commencement of Act 54 of 1971 on 1 October 1971 was obtained on full payment from the National Road Fund for the purpose of or use of a national road;
- (b) the transfer to the National Transport Commission of land obtained from the National Road Fund and registered in the name of the State by means of effecting an endorsement on the title deed of the relevant land by a Registrar of Deeds; and
- (c) exemption of the Commission from payment of transfer duty, stamp duty and office fee or registration fee in the event of land transactions in which the Commission is involved.
The amending Bill arises from the implementation of subsections 3(2) and (3) of Act 54 of 1971 in respect of the acquisition of ownership by the Commission and the alienation of the said land, and is essential to enable the Commission to implement its powers in terms of Act 54 of 1971 with optimum efficiency.
I shall consequently come immediately to the explanation of the provisions of the amending Bill. Paragraph (a)(1) of Clause 1 makes provision for the designation by the Minister of all land, whether a road reserve or land that has been cut off, which was acquired before the commencement of Act 54 of 1971 on full payment from the National Road Fund for the purpose of or in connection with national roads.
Paragraph (a)(ii) of Clause 1 is a consequential amendment. Only the word “land” at the beginning of subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of Section 3 of the principal Act is being omitted and inserted in the preamble to the amended paragraph (a) of subsection (2).
Paragraph (a)(iii) of clause 1 makes provision for the fact that all land, whether a road reserve or land that has been cut off, which was acquired after 1 October 1971 by the provincial administrations on full payment from the National Road Fund for use for national roads, can be designated by the Minister as land in respect of which ownership rests with the Commission.
Paragraph (b) of clause 1 prescribes the procedure which must be adopted upon transfer to the National Transport Commission of land which has been designated by the Minister but has not yet been registered in the name of the original owner. Paragraph (c) of clause 1, authorizes a Registrar of Deeds, upon application by the Commission, to transfer to the Commission land which was obtained from the National Road Fund, and was registered in the name of the State, by means of his effecting an endorsement on the title deed of the land concerned. The Commission is also exempted from the payment of transfer duty, stamp duty and office fees or registration fees in respect of land transactions in which the Commission is involved.
Mr. Speaker, we have no objection to this Bill, which is obviously plugging up loopholes in the original legislation and facilitating administration. When I initially read clause 1(c), I did wonder a bit about how a person could obtain land simply by telling the Deeds Office: “Register this land in my name, please”. However, I have been satisfied that there are in fact restrictions upon this. If that were not the case, I would have tried to make use of it myself. We have no objection to this Bill and we support the Second Reading.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
The Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act must, in all respects, be regarded as a far-reaching measure. In spite of this, with the public’s good co-operation it has already succeeded largely in preventing the injudicious subdivision of agricultural land. Particularly the cutting up of good farms into small patches of land, on which no one can make a decent living, has effectively been stopped.
A small piece of land in the platteland remains particularly alluring to the urbanite. He uses it as a mini-farm or a holiday locale where he can be close to nature. Its agricultural value is of secondary importance to him, and that is why he pays the exorbitant prices which speculators are asking. Indeed, he is told that land is the safest investment imaginable. He forgets, however, that such a piece of land, viewed generally, is being used unproductively and is therefore actually lost to agriculture.
Speculators previously made large profits from the sale of small pieces of land. Since the commencement of the Act they have had to discover, to their regret, that new land for this purpose is seldom still available. However, the demand for small pieces of land has not decreased, and they have consequently had to seek other outlets to make profits from that source. It has subsequently come to my attention, too, that some developers use undesirable methods to meet the demand for small pieces of land. In the process they are obviously trying to circumvent the objects of the Act. In point of fact, they sell an interest or right in agricultural land which cannot be registered. This is done in various ways; inter alia—
Although the contracts, which persons sign in such cases, give them the impression that they are legally obtaining rights of possession for a small piece of land, this can never be the case unless I have previously approved subdivision. In spite of that, by means of the right type of advertisements, speculators find enough persons who unwittingly invest in these very risky undertakings. It can therefore be expected that such investors will, at a later stage, urge the State to agree to granting subdivision in such cases to protect their interests. If that were to be done, the whole object of the Act would be frustrated. Most forms of this undesirable type of transaction can be controlled efficiently in terms of the Act. However, there is a need for more effective control in connection with the content of long-term leases in respect of portions of a farm. The measure, which is before the hon. House today for consideration, makes provision for that.
The Act at present prohibits registration of a lease, in respect of a portion of a farm, in a deeds office, unless the Minister approves it. Only long-term leases can be so registered, and then registration is still optional as well. Since the commencement of the Act very few such contracts have been registered in this way. This has possibly not been done in an endeavour to circumvent the provisions of the Act. By signing longterm leases, persons obtain claims to land which they would otherwise not be entitled to. Such claims will, according to the information that has come to my attention, frequently be in conflict with the objects of the Act. It is therefore regarded as being necessary to make provision for control being exercised by the authorities over long-term leases. Thereby one can ensure that their provisions are not in conflict with the objects of the Act. In the Bill various types of agreement are specified as being regarded as long-term leases. It is therefore being proposed that all long-term leases in respect of a portion of a farm be made subject to ministerial approval. I should like to emphasize that this provision is not applicable to the leasing of a whole farm, but only when a portion of it, which does not have a separate title deed, is leased.
In the Bill provision is made for the fact that a registrar of deeds cannot register a lease in respect of a portion of agricultural land without ministerial approval. In addition the position of long-term leases, signed before the commencement of this measure, is being entrenched. It is also being proposed that negotiating such contracts without ministerial approval will in future be made a punishable action.
Mr. Speaker, I accept the fact that many people would like to have a patch of land in the Bushveld or wherever. It is my conviction however, that such mini-farms are not to the benefit of agriculture as a whole. By this measure we want to endeavour to retain our agricultural land for agriculture as far as possible so that it can be utilized to its full potential to feed and clothe future generations. The South African Agricultural Union gives its wholehearted support to this measure.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister will remember that during the past few years we on this side have found legislation of this kind very contentious, and we have opposed it vehemently on a few occasions. The situation is now such that section 3 of the Act is on the Statute Book, and the hon. the Minister’s powers in this respect are many and very wide. We opposed those powers of his because we would rather have seen, when it came to the subdivision of agricultural land, this being left in the hands of a board instead of in the hands of a Minister. Steps are also being taken to circumvent the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act, and we on this side of the House do not, want any part in a situation where individuals or speculators would try to circumvent an Act when it is on the Statute Book. I am very glad that in his speech the hon. the Minister tells us very clearly that the question of leasing does not relate to a whole farm or to leases that have already been signed before the commencement of this legislation, and that this will only be applicable when portions of a farm are leased for periods longer than 10 years. In other words, as I see it, the leasing of land is not drastically being encroached upon. Only where someone is purposely trying to circumvent the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act by means of signing long-term leases, does this legislation come into operation. Since, as I have put it, we want no part in a situation where people are trying to circumvent the Act, we are not going to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill. If it is necessary we shall come with an amendment to clause 2, which is being substituted for section 3(d) of the principal Act, and for that reason we want the Committee Stage to be taken not today, but next week.
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the fact that the Opposition supports this measure. I told the hon. member for Newton Park that if we could take all the stages today I would give him a slaughter sheep, but he prefers to look to the legislation rather than any benefits he may gain. I should like to just mention, for the Opposition’s information, that many tales of heartache are going to arise from this situation if we do not stop subdivision by way of leases. Two months ago there was an advertisement in the newspapers which read: “Own your own farm—plant macadamia trees”. A man has 2 000 morgen; he sells 2 000 shares, and each shareholder gets one morgen. A lady came to me. She is a shareholder in this company, and when she went to look at her morgen of macadamia nuts, they said: “We do not allot a morgen to each person. You are a shareholder, but you are not allowed to build a house on your morgen”. The people are very upset after having invested in a macadamia farm as a result of the advertisement. It is people’s money that is at stake, but also our agricultural land which is being cut up in this way and in other ways. People take a farm, sell you a share so that you can go and build a house there. In this way they establish a town. Neither the province nor the Department of Planning can do anything about that, and our object is to stop this. On the other hand, it is not always easy to say “No”. We view the whole matter, and when a person applies for the subdivision we do not only have to look at the agricultural aspect. Residential plots in Pretoria cost R20 000 today. Even in Cape Town they cost between R10 000 and R20 000 in several places. We build freeways, and then a person decides to go just five miles further out of town and cut up a farm into plots. The person who buys a plot does not need to pay water rates or property tax to the municipality. Consequently he can live there cheaply and drive in to work every day, obtaining a plot at a very low price to boot. For the owner of the land it is also another opportunity to make money if he can sell plots at R2000 or R3 000 per morgen. He does not look at the agricultural aspect. It is our intention in future to regulate matters in such a way that if someone applies to subdivide his land, we shall say to him that he must first obtain the permission of the province and the Department of Planning. If the province or the Department of Planning feels that a town can be established, the farm can be withdrawn from agricultural use, but our task at the Department of Agriculture is purely to look to food production. If a person wants to subdivide a farm that can, in fact, be subdivided—if, for example, a portion has come under irrigation—we say: “Fine, you may subdivide.”
May I put a question to the hon. the Minister? If someone subleases small pieces of land for less than 10 years and renews the lease after each period, could he not in this manner circumvent the law in spite of the amendments now being introduced?
If he leases the land for nine years and 11 months, it is not necessary for him to register it, but the lessee of such a piece of land, or the shareholder in such a company, would not be interested in building a holiday house on his plot for only nine years and 11 months, being a shareholder in the whole farm.
If he could get an option for the extension of his lease he would, in fact, be interested of course.
Yes, but then he will have to register, because then it is longer than 10 years. We shall explain it to you in the Committee Stage. The big thing is that the hon. member for Newton Park accepts the principle. As far as the board is concerned, we may argue about that. Someone must make decisions. The hon. the Deputy Minister and I feel that we have to say “no” to people so often that it is making us very unpopular. Therefore, if one could substitute another body one should do so. Such a body would also just be able to say “no”, because it will have to abide by this principle.
You must give the guidance.
That is right, but one cannot appoint a board …
We cannot discuss it now. I just mentioned it in passing.
That is correct. I am glad the Opposition is adopting that standpoint. Thank you very much.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
It is probably not possible to over emphasize the role of the veterinarian in combating the Republic’s problems relating to animal diseases. Throughout the years the dedicated rendering of services by people in this group has been responsible for dramatic break-throughs in the combating of stock diseases. Most of these have received little publicity, but this does not detract from the respect and appreciation which the South African farmer has for the work of the veterinarian.
The high professional standards which veterinarians set themselves today, may undoubtedly be attributed to a considerable extent to the guidance emanating from the Veterinary Board. Up to now the functions of this Board, which came into being with the passing of the Veterinary Act in 1933, have largely been of an advisory nature only. I think, however, that the stage has now been reached when this Board should receive greater autonomy. Proposals in this regard are embodied in the amending Bill which is before this hon. House today for its consideration.
The prerogative for the approval of applications for the registration of veterinarians, is vested in the Minister at the moment. However, the boards which deal with the professional registration of other professions, do this without any ministerial intervention. There is no reason for an exception being made in respect of the Veterinary Board, and this power is now being transferred to the board. Likewise, it is being proposed to do away with the requirement of the Veterinary Board first having to obtain ministerial approval before it may investigate a charge against a registered person or impose a penalty when it finds such a person guilty. The same applies to a decision of the Veterinary Board to remove a person’s name from the register because of an offence or to restore it to the register subsequently.
The Veterinary Board consists of one representative of the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria, three representatives of the S.A. Veterinary Association, one person who is appointed because of his knowledge of law, and a veterinarian of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services, who also acts as chairman. All persons and bodies who have an interest in the registration of veterinarians, are, therefore, represented on this Board. I have full confidence in the ability of the Board to apply the additional powers which are now being transferred to it from the Minister, with the necessary circumspection and responsibility. I think the hon. member for Newton Park will very much like the provision that powers be taken from me and transferred to a Board.
The standard of veterinary training in the Republic is generally accepted as being of the very highest in the world. In addition to persons who studied at the University of Pretoria, only those who obtained their qualifications at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in England, Massey University in New Zealand or Cornell University in the U.S.A. are summarily registered in the Republic as veterinarians. Other persons are registered only if they have acceptable additional experience or qualifications. However, the Act does contain certain exceptions in favour of South African citizens who obtained their qualifications at non-recognized institutions abroad. The Veterinary Board recommended that these special privileges be withdrawn and that all South African citizens be treated on the same basis as immigrants in this regard. With the position of animal diseases in our country as the only consideration, I fully agree that we dare not depart from the present high standards of veterinary training, and for that reason the concession is now being withdrawn.
Veterinarians, as most other professional people, make extensive use of technical staff in the performance of their duties. Phenomenal progress has been made lately with the effective training of such assistance to veterinarians. In the Veterinary Act, 1933, provision was made for the making of regulations as to the registration and the conditions of registration of veterinary assistants and nurses. The position is that lately several persons have made enquiries as to the possibility of being registered in terms of these regulations. The necessary regulations were made in 1973 at the request of the Veterinary Board. Because it is not possible to state such conditions of registration fully enough by regulation, the Veterinary Board requested that the Act be amended so as to render it possible for most of the conditions of registration of veterinarians to be applied to veterinary assistants and veterinary nurses as well. Because this can only contribute to the further improvement of veterinary services rendered to the public, this request is supported wholeheartedly. Furthermore, it is being proposed at the request of the Veterinary Board that the once only registration fee of veterinary assistants and veterinary nurses be R10. The registration fee for veterinarians is R20 and is left unaltered.
In conclusion I should like to mention that the South African Veterinary Association agrees with this proposed amendment.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to support this piece of legislation, because the hon. the Minister has given us a fine explanation of what is intended with this legislation, and also because this side of the House has the largest degree of sympathy with the veterinarians of this country. Seen from the point of view of the agricultural industry, however, it is a pity that we do not have a sufficient number of these people. While the Veterinary Board is now receiving more powers with regard to the registration of their own people, we hope that this will not only confirm the autonomy of the Board, but also enable them to do more to find more young people to join this profession. What is of particular interest to me, is that veterinary assistants as well as veterinary nurses can now also be registered in this respect. More particularly in view of the enormous shortage of veterinarians, one should expect that these assistants and nurses could play just as big a part as the veterinarians and also in that respect will help to find people to join that profession.
Because this Veterinary Board will be able to do more things on its own, for example, undertake its own registration and maintain its own discipline, and will also be able to lay down its own requirements for students and veterinarians who are registered here, I want to say that we on this side hope that it will be to the benefit of our live-stock industry and the agricultural industry. With these words we support the Bill.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
The Soil Conservation Act, 1969, was put on the Statute Book to make provision for the prevention and combating of soil erosion. Its further object is to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the agricultural resources, including our supplies of water. It is consequently expected of the South African farmer to organize his farming in such a way that he will achieve these objects on his farm. In order to realize these things, it is necessary for him at times to make sacrifices which in the short term may mean certain expenditure or a loss of revenue to him. The responsible farmer realizes that such sacrifices constitute considerable advantages for him in the long term. That is why he does not hesitate to meet his responsibilities.
The Government is not unsympathetic to the farmer’s attempts to further soil conservation. Apart from expert advice, they are provided with financial aid by way of the payment of subsidies and assistance under the Agricultural Credit Act on an extensive scale for this purpose. Information which I receive from various sources, confirms my own observations that this financial aid is usually spent efficiently. It further ensures that we shall leave to posterity a better preserved South Africa.
Because public funds are used for such financial aid, thorough control over the spending such funds is imperative. Consequently the Bill which is before the House for consideration today, is for the most part aimed at a further strengthening of control over financial aid. In addition proposals are also being introduced to eliminate a few administrative problems which are being experienced, and to make the Act applicable to agricultural land in municipal areas.
In the first place I want to point out that there is a considerable difference between subsidies and grants in terms of the Act. Nevertheless the payment of subsidies and making of grants is governed by a single phrase in the Act, and this causes confusion. A subsidy is paid to a person to compensate him in part for expenditure incurred on the construction of any soil conservation works. Grants, on the other hand, are made as an incentive to adopt certain practices which will further the objects of the Act, but cause a potential or actual loss of revenue. On the recommendation of the law advisers, provision is now being made in clause 2 for the separate treatment of these two concepts in the Act. As a result it will be possible, in regulations and provisions, to draw a clearer distinction between the grounds for and the methods and conditions of paying subsidies and making grants.
In the second place the Act provides at present that a person on whom a direction for the construction of a soil conservation work has been served, shall bear all construction and maintenance costs involved. This also applies to those cases where such a person fails to comply with the direction and the State, whether itself or through an appointed contractor, undertakes the construction. It was, however, never the intention that such works should be excluded from the financial support afforded by way of subsidies. Further provision is therefore being made in clause 2 to the effect that a portion of the construction and maintenance costs of such works may be defrayed from public funds.
In the third place it is considered essential from the point of view of control that authorized persons should have unrestricted access to and right of way over any land so that they may carry out the necessary inspections under the Act. Such inspectors must, inter alia, ensure that the conditions under which subsidies are paid and grants made, are being properly complied with. At present the Act only affords them right of way and this could cause them to be unable to carry out complete inspections. As a result of this, a clearer formulation of inspectors’ rights of entry to and rights of way over land is being proposed in clause 3.
In the fourth place the Act empowers the determination of conditions in terms of which subsidies are paid and grants made. At present, if a person does not comply with such conditions, the moneys are repayable plus interest. This also applies in the case where a soil conservation work ought to be removed or destroyed for a very good reason, e.g. where it has served the purpose for which it was constructed and now has a deterring effect on farming operations. According to a recent legal opinion, the Act contains no authorization granting remission to such persons from the repayment of the subsidy or grant plus interest. In deserving cases, however, there are sufficient grounds for granting such remissions and therefore it is being proposed in clause 4 that the Act be amplified to authorize the making of regulations in this connection.
Further to this I must mention that a provision in the regulations, made in terms of this Act, was, before receipt of the said legal opinion, interpreted to mean that remissions could infact be granted. At this stage a number of remissions have, to tell the truth, already been granted on the basis of the erroneous interpretation. In each separate case my Department of Agricultural Technical Services satisfied itself that such remissions were not in conflict with the object of the Act. Since these remissions are being granted in accordance with a principle which it is now proposed to include in the Act, I feel myself at liberty to propose in clause 4 that the remissions which were previously granted, now be legalized.
In the last place it is being proposed in clause 5 that the Act may, by notice in the Gazette, be declared applicable to certain specified areas of jurisdiction of specific local authorities. All land in such areas of jurisdiction is at present excluded from the provisions of the Act. Some areas of jurisdiction, however, include large areas of land which are used exclusively for agricultural purposes. In most of these cases there is no indication that there will be any change in the present utilization pattern of such land in the foreseeable future. Because of the exclusion no action can be taken against the owners in the case of any in-or grants made to such owners for soil fringements. Nor can subsidies be paid conservation works which they construct or measures with which they comply in furthering the objects of the Act. My proposal that the Act be declared applicable to these grounds is made in the conviction that it will contribute to making it possible for such lands to be better preserved and utilized. It is my intention to consult the Administrators and local authorities concerned in preparing such notices.
Sir, the proposals contained in this Bill have been submitted to the South African Agricultural Union and meet with the approval of that body.
Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House support this measure. We have always believed that one of the most important facets of our national life is the preservation of our natural heritage. The Soil Conservation Act is one of the most important Acts dealing with this particular matter. This particular Bill which the hon. the Deputy Minister has introduced, as far as we can see makes the original Act easier of interpretation and easier to administer. Most important of all, it confers certain benefits on the farming community who are really responsible for carrying out soil conservation measures in this country. Therefore it is an altogether satisfactory measure and we will certainly support it.
There are just one or two observations I wish to make. The one relates to clause 4 where, it seems to me, that if a farmer has failed to maintain certain works for which he has received a subsidy, or remove certain works, then he may find himself in trouble with the department. As far as I can see, this measure eliminates that situation. It can only, I think, be in connection with the removal of a fence because quite obviously you could not remove great concrete works or a dam or works of that nature, so it is particularly in respect of a fence that this clause applies. It just comes to one’s mind that in a country where, I believe, we are apt to use the plough too freely, this may have some bearing on certain parts of our country where a fence which might have been standing for a few years and might have served its purpose to protect the grazing, now becomes unnecessary because the farmer decides to plough there and not to carry on with his pastoral pursuits. I would plead with the hon. the Deputy Minister to see to it that this particular clause is administered with due caution so that we do not allow, as is done in this measure, people to be subsidized for the erection of a fence, and when the purpose of the fence has perhaps fallen away, they take the fence away and plough land which should not be ploughed. Previously this was one of the great problems we had in agriculture, that far too much land has been ploughed, land that should have been used for pastoral purposes.
Then there is another point in clause 5 which I wish to deal with. This clause sets out in detail to which land in the Republic the provisions of the Soil Conservation Act shall not apply. It details them, and one of the first is land in an urban area. It also refers to land of which the ownership is, in terms of the Bantu Trust and Land Act, vested in the S.A. Bantu Trust. It also refers to land to which the provisions of the Rural Coloured Areas Act apply, of which ownership is vested in the Minister of Coloured Affairs, in trust for Coloured persons. I cannot imagine that there would be many cases where you would have a serious erosion problem in an urban area but it is now possible for the Minister, by notice in the Gazette to apply the Act to an urban area. In our Bantu areas and in the areas where our Coloured people live, we have some of the most serious soil erosion problems in the whole of South Africa. I think the hon. the Deputy Minister is aware of this. One of the things that worries us in the Opposition is that we do not see that adequate provision is being made for the control of soil erosion in all these areas. I do not think this is the opportune time to take the matter further. However, I think this is a matter which should receive the urgent consideration of the department. One can understand the position regarding certain land which is administered by the Bantu Trust. For instance in the Tugela River valley, that great river which at one stage passed through land administered by the Government of the Republic and through land which falls under the Department of Bantu Affairs certain norms and rules apply where it flows through White-owned land, but when it gets to the land administered by the Bantu Trust, other rules apply. We believe that there should be a uniform, umbrella Act which controls the whole question of land wastage and soil erosion on a geographic basis, so that land does not get different treatment because it happens to be administered by different authorities. We believe that this is a matter which needs urgent consideration. We are glad that it is being made possible now for the Act to apply to land which was hitherto not under the purview of the Act. Perhaps the hon. the Deputy Minister is gradually beginning to listen to the wise advice of the Opposition and is beginning to do those things which we have been recommending for quite a long time. Further than that, we have pleasure in supporting the measure which we believe to be a good one.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time
On the motion of the Minister of Transport, the House adjourned at