House of Assembly: Vol47 - THURSDAY 21 FEBRUARY 1974
Mr. Speaker, I move, without notice—
Mr. Speaker, before I proceed to replying to the criticism passed on the Budget by the other side of the House, you will permit me a few moments, Sir, to express a few personal words.
I see the hon. member for Pinetown, Natal, Mr. Arthur Hopewell, sitting here in front of me, a member who was elected to this House of Assembly in the same year I was, approximately 26 years ago. During these 26 years that has passed, the hon. member for Pinetown and I often debated here against each other and stated different points of view. However, I want to say here today, as my last tribute on this occasion to that hon. member, that in spite of our differences during these past years, his conduct has always been that of a gentleman and a man on whom one could rely as a person.
I want to place it on record here that in spite of our differences I have had the pleasure of enjoying his friendship at all times. I want to add that he has been an asset to his side of the House. I am sorry to hear that the hon. member for Pinetown is not going to return after the election, and here in this Budget debate I want to express my personal thanks to him for the pleasant cooperation we have had over a period of 26 years. I want to wish him a pleasant retirement.
Mr. Speaker, although this concerns me to a lesser extent, I also want to say a few words in connection with the hon. member for South Coast, Natal. The hon. member did not take part in debates of this nature very often, but whenever he did take part, he always made a substantial contribution. Where we differed with the hon. member, we on this side of the House saw the hon. member for South Coast as one of the greats on that side, a person who had won status for himself as a front-bencher. The number of those of us who arrived here in 1948 has become smaller and smaller. I think there are only seven of us here, and I suppose that after the election only five of us will be left. To these two departing members who are about to leave us now, I just want to say: We wish them a good retirement, and we who are left will do our best to keep up the prestige of the crop of 1948 in this Parliament.
And now, Mr. Speaker, after these personal words, which was a pleasure to me to express, I regret that the vein of the words I am going to express now will be a less pleasant one. It will be less pleasant because I have to admit frankly here that the debate to which we have been listening over the past few days, the attacks which came from the hon. Opposition on that side, was one of the very worst I have ever witnessed in this House. It has been my lot, Sir, to listen to debates of this nature over a period of 26 years. Particularly over the past 15 or 16 years I listened and listened to hear whether a positive contribution would perhaps be made by the hon. members on that side. I must say, as regards this debate which has now come to an end, that absolutely no positive contribution did come from the hon. members opposite, nothing but wailings, lamentations, nothing we could get our teeth into as a guide-line for the future administration of South Africa.
As a motive for this debate hon. members opposite chose the question of inflation and the higher cost of living, and, as I promised, I read all those speeches once again. In those speeches I did not discover one single new item. One would have thought, considering what has been written about the world problem of inflation in books and magazines and newspapers in many countries and in many languages, that, whereas this is a matter which is being talked and written about day after day, the hon. members who came here to attack this Government on that point would at least have acquainted themselves with the latest ideas in regard to this problem. They did not do so. They came up here with precisely the same ideas and precisely the same attacks used by them over the years, stale and hackneyed, in regard to a problem to which they themselves have no solution. The hon. member for Von Brandis told us about the attack which they would launch on the Government. This is what he said—
Mr. Speaker, these are very bold words. The hon. member promised that in this debate he would trace inflation down to its very origins in order to tell us what the causes of inflation are. In reading his speech, I discovered that it was exactly the same as that of the hon. member for Durban Point—nothing but a summary of the miseries brought about by inflation, a problem which they now want to combat without a single positive word of solution to this burning question confronting the world. The hon. member for Von Brandis came along here like a Robin Hood, like a Saint…
… wanting to save the oppressed of the world. Sir, after this debate I can say that the hon. member put me in mind of a Sancho Panza, a Don Quixote tilting at windmills while clutching rusty weapons.
I have said that in this debate hon. members of the Opposition came up with absolutely nothing. Since they are trying to save us as a people from the problem of inflation, one would have expected them to have come forward with positive suggestions. Sir, did the hon. members not realize, did it never dawn on them, that the inflation experienced by us in South Africa was not a South African problem alone, that this inflation was a phenomenon which had made its appearance in all parts of the world, whether in Europe or Asia or America or South Africa? They want to suggest that inflation in South Africa is a South African-made phenomenon.
Mr. Speaker, the speeches made by hon. members on that side were absolutely negative. The only positive thing which emerged from this discussion was, in the first place, that hon. members on the other side of the House had now made the discovery that the statistics on which we were working were not reliable. I know that I, too, often complain about statistics and that I complain about statistics when those statistics do not suit me. This is a case where hon. members of the Opposition are complaining about statistics that do not suit them. They only use statistics which suit them at that moment to point out that for three-quarters of a certain year imported inflation was higher than the American rate of inflation. But they forget the whole period that preceded it. They forget that in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972 the rate of inflation in South Africa was much lower, as far as imports were concerned, than was the rate of inflation in other countries.
Sir, now I come to the solution put forward by my hon. friend the hon. member for Parktown, the main speaker on that side, in order that we may see whether the Opposition did make any contribution to this debate. What did the hon. member for Parktown promise us here? He said, in the first place, that the solution to the problem of inflation was that we should give as much as possible in the form of subsidies, particularly food subsidies; that we should reduce income tax and company tax; that we should reduce the tax in respect of married women. In other words, what his argument amounts to is that one should curb inflation mainly by handing out revenue to people, by reducing taxes and by giving subsidies to the people outside. In all earnest I now want to put this question to my hon. friend: Where has he ever heard of inflation being combated by means of subsidies and tax relief? Where has he ever heard of the State getting down to the roots of the problem of inflation by means of increased expenditure, by means of reinforced liquidity in the economy? On the contrary, Sir, is it not the other way round? Is it not true, as hon. members often said here in the past, that increased public expenditure is one of the major causes for stimulating inflation? But the hon. member tells us here that one of the ways to combat inflation would be to give up more, to hand out more, to give more subsidies and to abolish more taxes. I think the hon. member did not think before he spoke. When we ask the hon. member from what we are to defray these things, out of what we are to pay these tax abatements and the subsidies, etc., we hear that we are to do so out of the colossal profits that have been made out of the increased price of gold. But does the hon. member not know that the Budget of this particular year, the Budget that was passed in March last year, was a deficit budget, and that we budgeted for a deficit of more than R400 million, and that we took that R400 million from the Stabilization Fund? And does the hon. member not think that it is the first duty of a responsible government that, whereas it did obtain more revenue now than it had budgeted for—thanks to the growth which its budget had given rise to in the country—it should be its task, in the first place, to repay the loans obtained from the Stabilization Fund, to pay the debts it incurred, before it can start with the handing out of gifts and of subsidies and the lowering of taxes? The hon. member also suggested here that we should think of a major reduction in the petrol price, in the excise and the customs in respect of petrol and fuel. Other hon. members on that side of the House adopted the same standpoint, namely that one of the steps by the Government should be a colossal reduction in the excise on fuel. Mr. Speaker, the customs and excise on fuel in South Africa is, to my knowledge, certainly the lowest in the entire world. I have here before me a report which was published in the Daily Telegraph of London on 8 January 1974, i.e. approximately five weeks ago, and in which a schedule is given of what other countries are getting out of its petrol by way of customs and excise. I shall read it to hon. members so that they may see what South Africa is getting out of its petrol. It is said here that per gallon—we are dealing with gallons here—France gets 60 South African cents, West Germany 49, Belgium 62, Holland 58, Luxemborg 43 and Italy 60. These are the six countries which originally constituted the E.E.C. The smallest amount that was collected in the form of duty on petrol was 43 cents and the biggest amount was 60 cents—more than the price of petrol here in South Africa, where, on a gallon of petrol, we only charge the consumer just over 14 cents. Is that not a favourable comparison? I put this question to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition. Most of the big countries of the E.E.C. charge up to 60 cents in the form of duty on a gallon of petrol, while South Africa merely charges in the vicinity of 14 cents, and then the hon. member asks us to give up even more in that respect.
Now I still want to tell hon. members that more than half of the money derived by us from petrol and fuel goes to the Road Fund and less than half goes into the State coffers. Approximately 60% goes to the Road Fund in order that the roads and the bridges on which we all drive may be built in our country. I think that if the hon. member had thoroughly acquainted himself with these figures, he would have had less to say about giving up extra duties in view of the fact that we have already made a considerable contribution out of the Fuel Fund in order to keep the price of fuel low.
That brings me to the contradictions, the inconsistencies, in the arguments advanced by the hon. members opposite. The hon. member for Parktown was the main speaker. Last Friday, when I made my speech here, and when he rose to speak after me, he said it was a typical pre-election speech. In other words, it was a speech in which so much was being given that it indicated clearly that I was making preparations for the forthcoming election. From that I gathered that the hon. member was trying to prove that in that speech I had given too much, or a great deal, to the public. However, after the hon. member had read a bit more and had given it thought, he came back on Monday to reply fully to the speech. Then he no longer said that it was a pre-election speech and that I had given the people too much in that speech. At that stage his attack was based on my having given the people too little in that speech. Sir, how are we to reconcile these two standpoints? I want to make it very clear that we were dealing here with a Little Budget, or a Part Appropriation. We were not dealing here with the main, annual, general budget which is usually presented in March. As this was not a main budget, we were not in a position, nor did we want to be so, to make tremendous concessions, as pleaded for by hon. members opposite. I can already picture them going to the rural areas and saying, as the Star said the other evening, that the Minister of Finance had a golden opportunity to do something for the people in this Budget. Then they will tell the people outside how little we did. Sir, I repeat: We are dealing with a Part Appropriation, which gives the people only what is essential. Its sole object is to provide money for the next few months. We are not dealing here with a main budget. When the Main Budget is presented in August, we shall be able to make many of those concessions which hon. members opposite spoke about. This Budget is a mini-budget, and it would have been wrong of me to make major concessions on this occasion, to grant major tax concessions and subsidies. Matters of that nature do not fit in with a mini-budget.
There is another aspect as well, and this is the ethical aspect. It would have been unethical of me to make tremendous concessions and gifts to the people at the beginning of the year, when an election is pending. One does not do that. Sir, the National Party does not need that. [Interjections.]
What about Langlaagte?
Because it is unethical, we did not do it. The hon. members opposite are full of inconsistencies. The hon. member for Newton Park, for instance, was one of the members who attacked the Government for supposedly having brought inflation into this country and for having increased it, but when the hon. the Minister of Agriculture asked him whether he advocated an increase in the price of maize, milk, etc., he said, “Yes, the farmers ought to get more for their meat, their maize, their milk, and so on.” This is the kind of inconsistency one finds with hon. members opposite.
Hon. members tried to prove that South Africa did not have imported inflation but that inflation had been created locally through the actions of this Government. Do the hon. members for Von Brandis, Parktown and Constantia, who made those statements, want to tell me that the prices of machinery which must be bought by manufacturers so that they may maintain and increase their production, and the price of raw materials did not increase? We know that machinery of that kind costs much more today than it did in former years. Do the hon. members want to tell me that machinery, such as ploughs, planters and threshing-machines which are imported by the agricultural sector, do not cost much more today? Do the hon. members want to tell me that those tremendously increased prices are going to have no effect on production costs and the final cost of those products? Do they want to tell me this? They will not say it, Sir, and yet they say in this House that imported costs do not play any role in our inflationary conditions here in South Africa. Would the hon. member for Constantia or any other member opposite tell me, now that we have to contend with oil problems—I refer not only to the availability of oil, but also to the price of this imported oil—that those problems are not going to have an effect on our local situation? Would the hon. members deny that the import price of oil, which is four times as much as it was a year ago, is going to have an effect on production costs and on the prices of goods produced in the factories and in the agricultural industry? Do the hon. members want to deny this? When we return to this House in August and point out price increases which may have occurred and what increase there was that was attributable to the increase in the price of production costs, which in turn was attributable to the higher import price of oil, will the hon. members deny it then? No, they cannot deny it. For that reason I say that their suggestion that import prices have no effect on the cost of production or on the inflation in South Africa, is a hollow cry to which there is no reply. I had hoped that by this time, now that the Government has been in power for almost 26 years and the Opposition has been in opposition for almost 26 years, the Opposition would have taken cognisance of the fact that the problem of inflation is not something which one can turn into a political football and is not something with which one should go to the polls, as was magnanimously and courageously suggested by my hon. friend. I had hoped that they would realize that inflation was a problem which has deep roots in the economies of all the countries of the world. By saying this I want to emphasize that a great deal has been written and said about the problem of inflation in the council chambers of the world, but that so far nobody has found an answer which is acceptable for the solution of this problem. If my hon. friend opposite the hon. member for Von Brandis, who wants to pin this thing down to the tail of the Government, would name me any person, any writer or any government in this world that has found a solution to the problem of inflation, I would be pleased if he would do so. We find this problem today in young countries and in old countries, in small countries and in big countries, in developing countries and in developed countries; we find this problem all over the world, and instead of its becoming smaller, it is becoming bigger and bigger every day. And, for all that, the solution has not yet been found. Would the hon. Opposition now give me replies to two questions? They accused the National Party of being the cause of inflation. Is the National Party the cause of inflation in Germany, France, the United States and in the other countries of the world? Is the National Party Government the only government which has created inflation in its own country through the maladministration of that country? The second question is: Are the hon. members on that side of the House members of the only party in the world, are they the only speakers in the world to have found a solution to the burning question of inflation, something which no other country in the world has managed so far? If so, it is a tremendous achievement. There are not many things about the Opposition of which one can be proud, but we shall be very proud of them if they have found the recipe for the medicine which no other person in the world has yet been able to find, namely a recipe for the solution to the world problem of inflation. They want to take this to the people. I think they are bluffing themselves when they think that they will win the election on the basis of inflation. Our people are not as stupid as that. It is an insult to the intelligence of our people to try to catch them that way. My friends here and I myself have attended many National Party meetings over the past few months, both small and large meetings. I want to say that I did not receive any complaints about high prices at one single meeting where hundreds of people were present. Only at one meeting did a man rise and ask me what progress the Government was making in its fight against inflation. Hon. members rightly said that the less well-to-do and the poor amongst the people suffered most under the blows of inflation. It is quite correct that it is the less well-to-do who suffer most when inflation is at its height. But what did the Government do? In its previous Budget the Government raised social pensions by R4, in October it raised them by R2 and it has now raised them again, this time by R5. Within a short period, from October last year to May this year, social pensions were raised by R11, by 27%. Can hon. members name me one period in the economic history of South Africa where social pensions were raised by 27%, by R11, within such a short period? This amount of R11 by which we raised pensions over the past few months, is much more than the R10 per person which the United Party handed out in pensions in their time. I am aware of the fact that it is the poor who spend the major part of their income on food, and that, because food prices have increased to such an extent, they are suffering as a result. But hon. members are also aware that the food of the non-Whites consist mainly of cereal foods, and that it is cereal foods which receive the highest subsidies from the Government. Further items of expenditure of the less well-to-do of our country are housing and transport. It is specifically in respect of housing and transport, too, that we have granted the biggest allowances and subsidies. In other words, this Government has gone out of its way to make a contribution towards bringing down the cost of living of the less well-to-do.
Thirdly I should like to point out to hon. members who are pleading for the non-Whites that from the third quarter of 1972 to the third quarter of 1973 consumer prices rose by 9,3%. Over the same period the wages of Coloureds rose by 13,9% and those of the Bantu by 23,1%. This proves that the wages of both Coloureds and the Bantu rose at a much faster rate than did the cost of living. I do not have the time, but I should like to point out to hon. members that in spite of all these accusations, food prices in South Africa are still among the lowest in the entire world. A survey made at the beginning of this year by the London Financial Times, which published a lengthy table at the time, shows that food prices in a city such as Johannesburg were, but for three other cities, the cheapest in the entire world.
Now I also want to deal with another matter which is quite important. The hon. members for Von Brandis and Constantia, and to a certain extent the hon. member for Parktown too, accused the Government of obstructing growth, of not taking the necessary steps to promote economic growth in the country. I want to say, if you would excuse my words, that to level the accusation here at this stage that this Government is obstructing growth, is nothing but sheer nonsense. The tremendous development in the economic sphere that has taken place in this country over the past 25 years has taken place in terms of the economic policy of this Government, and the developments that lie ahead will also take place in terms of the policy of the National Party. In the first place the hon. members referred to the period 1969-’71, and they criticized the monetary and fiscal policy followed by us during that period. Now I want to repeat ad nauseam, and I hope that this will be borne in upon the minds of the hon. members, that during the period 1969-’71 we were forced, obliged, to follow that monetary policy and to restrict credit in order to reduce liquidity and to restrict the financial demand for goods and services. What happened during that period? During that period a demand inflation prevailed in South Africa. During that period the rate of consumption on the part of the people of South Africa exceeded the production. During that period prices were forced upwards by the increased demand. During that period more was imported than we could afford. During that period our balance of payments was very unfavourable and our reserves dropped. The cause of this was a rate of exchange that had gone against us and the uncertainty which prevailed in the monetary sphere as a whole. I want to ask the hon. members to tell me what action they, any responsible minister of finance or any responsible government, would have taken in such a period of excess demand other than that of applying damping measures? The hon. members may go to Europe or America today, to countries such as Germany, England, France and Holland, and they will see that precisely the same policy is being applied in those countries, i.e. that of damping the demand in order to combat inflation and to promote the growth of one’s country.
In the second place the hon. member for Constantia, backed by hon. member for Von Brandis, once again took the attitude that they had accepted the devaluation of the end of December 1971. Once again the hon. members are singing the old tune, i.e. that it was a disaster, but none of the hon. members did in any way indicate what they would do under similar circumstances. They did not say what they would do in the circumstances which I have already outlined. They did not say what they would have done in the circumstances which prevailed after 15 August, when the U.S.A. made the dollar inconvertible and closed the gold window. They did not indicate what they would have done when, as a result of the step by the dollar, there was speculation against the rand and the leads and lags emerged and money was flowing out as a result. They did not say what they would have done at the end December 1971, when a country such as America devalued. If they themselves had not devalued, it would have been a crime against the economy of the country. Now they say it was a disaster. What happened subsequently? I just want to outline this briefly. There was a tremendous swing in the balance of payments, there was a change in the leads and lags, week after week our reserves increased, the stock exchange came to life again, new money was invested in building societies, a completely new spirit was evident in our economy, a spirit which laid the foundation for the growth we have been experiencing in recent times. It was as a result of that that South Africa could grow again and that the rand could rise again so that today it is one of the strongest currencies in the world. As a result South Africa can be accepted under article 1 or article 8 of the International Monetary Fund, and South Africa can take its place among the biggest and strongest financial countries in the world. What can the hon. member put in the place of that except to be negative? In politics or in economics it does not pay to be negative. Perhaps the hon. member will give me a reply to this question. If it is true that the devaluation of 1971 was the major cause of inflation in South Africa, how does the hon. member explain the fact that countries which did not devalue, but revalued, experienced as high a rate of inflation and even a higher one than South Africa did? I could take the hon. member to numerous countries today. The other day I had discussions with one of the greatest monetary leaders in Europe, a person whom I know well personally. That man told me, “My country has during the past period revalued its money by 40%, and yet there was a price increase of 40% in the same period”. I think hon. members should rather try to find grounds for their statements instead of making such statements so glibly.
Certain attacks have been made in the Government and on the Reserve Bank—also by hon. members on the other side—because the Reserve Bank decided some time ago to raise its bank and interest rates. Now hon. members are saying that there is a difference of opinion between the Reserve Bank and the Government; the Government wants growth—I thank them for being kind enough to believe that we do want growth!—but the Reserve Bank wants to follow a damping policy. Unfortunately these hon. members did not understand what was happening. It is true that there is a lack of liquidity in the banking sector at the moment. It is true that it is difficult to get hold of money today. It is true that at the moment the Reserve Bank does not want to yield to the demands and requests of the other banks for more liquidity. But it is not its fault that there is less liquidity in the country. The fault lies, in the first place, with the high interest rates. I think hon. members know what a tremendous difference there is in interest rates between South Africa and other countries of the world. Now I just want to mention a few examples of this difference in interest rates, which is the reason why money remains in foreign countries and is lured there in various ways, with the result that a capital outflow develops. The bank rate in South Africa was 5,5% in December. In the United Kingdom it was 13%, in the United States 7,5%, in West Germany 7% and in France 11%. The daily rate in South Africa was 5,5%, in the United Kingdom 11%, in the United States 9% to 9,5%, in West Germany 11,75% and in France 11,52%. In all those countries that daily rate is round about 11%, 12%; in South Africa it is 5,5%. And so I could go on; but I think this is enough to prove that it is the difference in interest rates between us and the various countries which is responsible for this capital flight in fact taking place and for less money having flowed into South Africa. And now they say the bank does not want to help; but in my previous speech I mentioned to hon. members how the bank had helped in 1973. Hon. members should please take note of that. In 1973 money in circulation or credit creation in South Africa increased by R1 551 million, an increase of 36%. The biggest increase which we had experienced in South Africa in the past 18 years, occurred in 1969, when there was an increase of 17.6%. In 1972 there was an increase of 11,6%, but in 1973 there was an increase of 36%, namely R1 551 million. I think it would have been wrong of the Reserve Bank to have made even more facilities available at that stage, which could have brought more money into circulation and could have caused more money to leave the country and would have brought about increased sales and reduced reserves. The hon. member for Constantia also referred here to the mood amongst our businessmen. The hon. member for Parktown also referred to the bad mood which supposedly prevailed amongst our people during the past month. It seems to me the hon. member for Constantia almost rejoiced at the fact which he mentioned to us here, namely that according to a survey made by the Sunday Times it was said—
The hon. member quoted it here to prove that fewer people now had confidence in the future than was the position, say, a year ago. In this survey the following was said—
The hon. member now wants to take this as proof of there being a drastic, a tremendous decline in the expectations for the future and in the confidence of our people in the future of South Africa. Mr. Speaker, I think it is a miracle that in these times, in which we have an oil crisis which affects the entire world, it was still found that two-thirds of the people who were questioned in this regard, expressed their confidence in the future of South Africa. The hon. member must know that the oil crisis is going to have a tremendous effect. I want to tell him about the effect it has on other countries. I have here, for instance, a clipping dealing with the effect of the crisis in other countries, such as West Germany and America, where those in charge of the monetary policy of those countries are saying that where they expected a 3% or 4% or 6% growth rate, that growth rate will drop to 1% and perhaps 0% during this year. Now the hon. member wants to suggest here that these problems exist because of Government policy. He said that as a result of this there had been “a crisis of confidence”. I want to tell him that it is a miracle that one still finds so many people in South Africa who believe in the future growth of our country. As far as the future anticipated growth is concerned, I want to ask my hon. friend to take a look not only at the “quarterly Review” of the Sunday Times, but also at the latest edition of the “Bureau for Economic Research Opinion Survey Report”. There he will see that they have the following to say—
I want to give that advice to the hon. member, that he should not contribute to our talking ourselves, psychologically, into a depression, and I want to tell him that the future looks brighter than it did last year. But here I find another quotation, the latest edition of Barclays Bank—
Here, from the mouth of objective people of the Bureau for Economic Research and from the mouth of the researchers of Barclays Bank, I have the prediction that major growth is awaiting South Africa and that we can only talk ourselves out of that growth psychologically.
Sir, I want to conclude, but I think it is fitting that I should say a few words about gold on this occasion. I am surprised that hon. members, especially on the other side, had so little to say about gold, which in these days has reached a record price of $150—and more today—on the foreign markets, something which, in the past, most people could not dream would happen. I am sorry to have to come back to the hon. member for Constantia again. I want to thank the hon. member sincerely for the congratulations which he extended to me on the occasion of gold reaching a price of $150 per ounce. The hon. member for Constantia, who is to an increasing extent becoming the prophet of doom on that side of the House, obliquely made the remark here that no credit was to be given to this Government for the increase in the price of gold. Mr. Speaker, I am the last one to say that this Government is responsible for the increased gold price. I have always said that it is the power of economic facts and circumstances which will force up the gold price to where it is today, but that it is our task as a Government to keep the idea of gold a bright one at all times, to keep gold in the limelight at all times and to exert ourselves for a higher gold price, as we have been doing in the past years. Sir, I want to ask the hon. member to go to the capital cities of any of the big countries and to the big organizations in the financial sphere, to go to the Bank of International Settlements, to the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Schweizer, to the present Managing Director, to the past and present Reserve Bank managers in America, to the same people in England and Germany and France and Switzerland and Italy, or to whatever country you may wish, and to ask those people what contribution South Africa has made to keep gold in the foreground of the international monetary system. Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that hurts me very much as a politician on the Government side, and that is that when we are fighting on international platforms for the interests of South Africa there are people sitting here in the South African Parliament who say to the world outside, “Don’t pay any attention to these people; their contribution is meaningless anyway.” Sir, in the course of the next few months we have to conduct important negotiations abroad in regard to the gold price, but how can we conduct those negotiations when people in this Parliament are telling the outside world, “You need not pay any attention to the Government of South Africa; they are not making any contribution: their negotiations are rather meaningless.” Sir, I say this is not only an injustice to South Africa; it is a pernicious act as regards the interests of our country. Once, about five or six years ago, when we were conducting negotiations in Washington on the sale of South African gold—one of the most difficult negotiations that can be conducted between states—it was my experience that while the negotiations were in progress, a report with the words “Poor Dr. Diederichs” appeared in one of the newspapers here in South Africa, a report which suggested that it was foolish to think that there was going to be a higher gold price and that he was wasting his breath in this fight for a higher gold price. I regard those things—I should have liked to have used a stronger word—as an atrocious disservice that was done to South Africa. In this respect I have much more respect for my friend the hon. member for Parktown. The hon. member for Parktown also stated in this House in the past that they did not share our faith in a higher official gold price, but I want to give the hon. member for Parktown credit for never having gone so far as to say this to the world outside, “This Government has made no contribution whatever; you may as well forget about this Government; its contribution does not mean a thing.”
Sir, now I want to refer briefly to the fact that at this point of time at which we find ourselves the price of gold has risen to $150—and more today—per ounce. I just want to examine briefly the factors surrounding this rise. I do not want to deal again with the reasons for this rise and the place of gold in the monetary sphere, because I do not have the time for doing so, but I just want to tell you that I find it remarkable that in the circumstances of today the price of gold has risen and may probably rise even further. In the first place, gold has risen to where it is today in spite of propaganda that was made against it. All over the world we find academics and politicians and other kinds of people who have over the years made propaganda against gold and described it as this “barbarous metal”, as something which is worthless, and in spite of that propaganda by learned people and by ignorant people, the gold price has risen to the peak it has reached today. In the first place we were faced with a psychological warfare during the past number of years. We often had to read that gold was going to lose its value very soon, and the moment it appeared that the price of gold was rising, we received reports, mostly from America, that America was giving consideration to selling gold on the free market, or that Russia was going to sell large quantities of gold on the free market—all of this with the psychological aim of causing the price of gold to drop, but gold has survived that psychological war. Last year, in November, they did away with the two-tier system, in terms of which there were two gold prices and central banks were not allowed to buy or sell gold on the free market, and the impression was immediately created in America that the central banks would now sell their gold on the private market. The object of this was to cause the price of gold to drop again, and the price of gold did drop, but in spite of all these things it rose again. Sir, not one of those central banks and monetary authorities who were speaking out against gold, sold a single grain of their gold on the private market. In the fourth place I want to point out that the price of gold rose in spite of the fact that South Africa did not keep back any of its gold in the past year. In the previous year, in 1972, South Africa kept back approximately one-third of its gold in order to supplement its own reserves. Now it sold all its gold on the market, and in spite of that the gold price rose. In the fifth place I want to point out that in the past interest rates in the world were a mighty factor against the gold price, for when interest rates are so high people do not easily buy gold. Now we find that in spite of the high interest rates, yesterday’s gold sales on the market became so strong in Europe that the demand could not be satisfied. To conclude, what is still of the greatest importance to me is the fact that in the past, usually when the dollar declined in value, the gold price rose. Whenever people lost their faith in paper money and especially in the dollar, because of its being so weak, they bought gold as a counterbalance to the decline in the value of the dollar, but now we have seen the opposite in the past few weeks. In spite of all the things I have already mentioned, and in spite of a rising dollar, the gold price rose as well. Not against the dollar, but along with the dollar the gold price rose to the highest levels which in fact it has reached.
I just want to conclude by saying that all of this promises well for us. In spite of the fact that many people came out against gold in the past, it has been my personal experience that theorists, academics and politicians are to an increasing extent beginning to look to gold, and that the central banks in Europe are deliberating at the moment on how they can take out of their coffers the gold which is being held officially and how they can raise its price. I want to conclude by saying that I believe that this Government has made a contribution. Many circumstances have contributed towards the increase in the price of gold, but I believe that this Government has also made a contribution in this regard, and in spite of what some of my hon. friends opposite may say, we shall go on working and fighting in the future for a fair price and the rightful place of gold in the world’s financial systems, and that this will also be a major contribution towards the mighty economic and financial growth which is at hand and which they will yet experience with me here in South Africa.
Question put: That all the words after “That” stand part of the motion,
Upon which the House divided:
Ayes—94: Aucamp, P. L. S.; Badenhorst, P. J.; Bodenstein, P.; Botha, G. F.; Botha, H. J.; Botha, L. J.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Botha, R. F.; Botha, S. P.; Coetsee, H. J.; Coetzee, S. F.; De Klerk, F. W.; De Villiers, D. J.; De Wet, M. W.; Diederichs, N.; Du Plessis, A. H.; Du Plessis, G. C.; Du Toit, J. P.; Erasmus, A. S. D.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Grobler, W. S. J.; Hartzenberg, F.; Henning, J. M.; Herman, F.; Heunis, J. C.; Hoon, J. H.; Horn, J. W. L.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Koornhof, P. G. J.; Kotzé, W. D.; Le Grange, L.; Le Roux, F. J. (Hercules); Loots, J. J.; Louw, E.; Malan, G. F.; Malan, W. C.; Maree, G. de K.; McLachlan, R.; 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.; Pansegrouw, J. S.; Pienaar, L. A.; Potgieter, J. E.; Potgieter, S. P.; Prinsloo, M. P.; Rall, J. J.; Rall, J. W.; Raubenheimer, A. J.; Reinecke, C. J.; Reyneke, J. P. A.; Rossouw, W. J. C.; Roux, P. C.; Schlebusch, J. A.; Schlebusch, J. A.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoeman, H.; Smit, H. H.; Swanepoel, J. W. F.; Swiegers, J. G.; Treurnicht, A. P.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Van Breda, A.; Van der Merwe, C. V.; 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 der Walt, H. J. D.; Van Heerden, R. F.; Van Tonder, J. A.; Van Vuuren, P. Z. J.; Van Wyk, A. C.; Van Zyl, J. J B.; Volker, V. A.; Vorster, B. J.; Vorster, L. P. J.; Vosloo, W. L.; Wentzel, J. J. G.
Tellers: W. A. Cruywagen, S. F. Kotzé, G. P. van den Berg and H. J. van Wyk.
Noes—41: Basson, J. D. du P.; Baxter, D. D.; Bronkhorst, H. J.; Cadman, R. M; Cillié, H. van Z.; Deacon, W. H. D.; De Villiers, I. F. A.; Emdin, S.; Fisher, E. L.; Graaff, De V.; Hickman, T.; Hopewell, A.; Hourquebie, R. G. L.; Hughes, T. G.; Kingwill, W. G.; Malan, E. G.; Marais, D. J.; Miller, H.; Mitchell, D. E.; Mitchell, M. L.; Moolman, J. H.; Murray, L. G.; Oldfield, G. N.; Oliver, G. D. G.; Pyper, P. A.; Raw, W. V.; Stephens, J. J. M.; Streicher, D. M.; Suzman, H.; Taylor, C. D.; Timoney, H. M.; Van den Heever, S. A.; Van Eck, H. J.; Van Hoogstraten, H. A.; Von Keyserlingk, C. C.; Wainwright, C. J. S.; Wiley, J. W. E.; Winchester, L. E. D.; Wood, L. F.
Tellers: W. M. Sutton and J. O. N. Thompson.
Question affirmed and amendment dropped.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move, without notice—
Mr. Speaker, I move, subject to Standing Order No. 49—
Mr. Speaker, I should like to thank the hon. the Minister of Finance for his kind references to the hon. member for Pinetown and the hon. member for South Coast. Personally I am greatly indebted to both these gentlemen. The hon. member for Pinetown has been my guide and mentor since I first came to this House. His personal guidance has saved me from many blunders. One of the nicest things that has happened to me since I came to Parliament has been the privilege of sharing a bench with so doughty a fighter as the hon. member for South Coast. I am going to miss him next session.
Mr. Speaker, may I return the compliment to the hon. the Minister of Finance and tell him how delighted I am to know that he will be returning to this House in the next Parliament with a nice, safe seat. Sir, life would not be the same here unless we had the hon. the Minister to tell us after every Budget debate and every Part Appropriation Debate: “This is the weakest performance I have ever heard from the Opposition; the Opposition has offered nothing constructive.” The hon. the Minister said that inflation was a problem throughout the world, something we seemed to be forgetting according to him. I should just like to remind the hon. the Minister of one thing and that is that this is also the only country in the world that stops people by law from working to their full potential. This is one of the basic reasons for our inflation. The hon. the Minister also took me to task for having suggested a great number of reductions in taxation and contributions to the public in my Second Reading speech. However, every one of the suggestions we have made has a purpose. The purpose of reducing the sales tax was to ease the lot immediately of the poorest sections of our community. The hon. the Minister subscribes to this because in August he reduced the sales tax by R30 million and now again by R16 million. The subsidies, again, were to help the less fortunate of our people. We said specifically “even as a temporary measure”. We then asked for the company tax to be reduced. What was the purpose of that? It was to enable companies to accumulate sufficient investment funds to develop the economy. We asked that individual tax, the marginal rate, should be reduced and that some additional consideration be given to women. There was a purpose behind this suggestion, i.e. to create the necessary incentive for greater productivity in South Africa. We did not make these suggestions lightly. The hon. the Minister asked how we were going to pay for these and whether we did not know that he had budgeted for a deficit of R400 million in 1973. Of course we know, and we say to the hon. the Minister now what he said to us last year: “Use your balances, if there are any balances, but use them for long-term prosperity.” This is what we are seeking. The hon. the Minister gave us a breakdown of duties on petrol in South Africa and in other countries. What the hon. the Minister did not tell the House was about the other imposts that the motorists were bearing in South Africa, such as the excise duty and the sales tax. He did not tell us about the R200 million per annum which the motoring public of South Africa is paying to the fiscus. We agree with the hon. the Minister that the cost of machinery is higher today and that this does affect inflation, but the rand is strong and import prices falling. If productivity is increased as much as possible, the overall effect of the increase in cost of capital goods, will be negligible. The hon. the Minister took my colleagues, the hon. member for Von Brandis and the hon. member for Constantia to task for having said that devaluation was a disaster. What was a disaster was the bad handling of the economy that led to devaluation. This is the point my hon. colleagues wanted to make.
In the time at my disposal there are other matters that I want to raise with the hon. the Minister. The first is in regard to his concession, as he called it, relating to medical expenses. I want to get this situation very clear. At present the abatement for medical expenses in the case of a married person under the age of 60 is R150. For those over 60 it is R250, whether you actually spend this amount of money or not. There is an additional abatement of R100 if you have a child in the tax year and there is also the insurance abatement of R400. The hon. the Minister now proposes to combine these two abatements into one abatement of R600. I accept that a number of people will benefit. I must do so because the hon. the Minister said that it was going to cost him another R2,5 million per year. However, there are many people who are not going to benefit. Firstly, a person who pays insurance premiums to the extent of R400 and who is not over 60 years of age, gets an abatement of R550, whether he incurs any medical expenditure or not. In terms of the hon. the Minister’s recommendations for this year, if a person incurs no medical expenditure in the tax year, his abatement will only be R400 and not R550. Therefore he is going to be R150 worse off. Secondly, if you are over 60 or if you have a child in the tax year, today your medical abatement is R250 and your insurance abatement is R400, which gives a total of R650. Now the total will be R600 which is R50 less, and the difference between the amount paid as insurance premium and the R600 must be actually spent. A lot of people are going to be very adversely affected by this new provision. Here is a letter we received, dated 18 February, which reads as follows—
If the hon. the Minister intends the additional medical abatements and the R100 extra for the over 60s not to be calculated as part of this R600, would he please tell the House? The hon. the Minister has a short memory. The worst feature of the hon. the Minister’s proposal is the work that is going to devolve upon every taxpayer now to collect his accounts and his receipts. It was a nightmare previously and it is going to be a nightmare again. It is time-wasting. We all know the trouble of getting receipts from doctors and chemists. And if you buy medicines at a bazaar what do you do about receipts? The hon. the Minister, when he changed the position in 1969, said that actual medical expenses up to a maximum of R250 could be deducted from taxable income. He then said: “It is found that this maximum sum is more than adequate in the great majority of cases. The checking of taxpayers’ deductions in this regard creates considerable administrative trouble and the Commissioner of Inland Revenue recommended that the present allowance be replaced by a fixed deduction on taxable income of R150 per year.” The administrative problems of the hon. the Minister and the department might be solved, but he is certainly passing the administrative problem now on to the taxpayer. I would like to ask the hon. the Minister in all sincerity to review this whole situation of medical costs and medical abatements. I do not think they are adequate. I think we should move to the American system where they have a fixed allowance, but if unfortunately your medical expenses are much higher than the fixed allowance, they allow you as an abatement either the fixed allowance or 3% of your total income whichever is the higher. I know of cases where people have incomes of R5 000 or R6 000 per year, old people of 80 or 90 years of age, and are spending as much as 70% to 80% of their total income on medical expenses. Yet they are paying tax on the total income and getting an allowance of R250 per annum. I hope the hon. the Minister will apply his mind to this and see if he cannot help us.
Next I want to deal with some aspects of inflation. The one thing that is worrying us is the position in regard to cartels, monopolies and the price-fixings that are going on in South Africa. There are many spheres in which this happens. The hon. the Minister will know that in regard to Government tenders there are very often ten tenders, nine of which are exactly the same while one is a little lower, because it was arranged that the lowest tender should get the business. We find this in the building trade and also with the banks, with one or two exceptions. These cartels and price-rings are illegal in terms of the Monopolies Act. When we sat on the Monopolies Commission we came to the conclusion that there was sufficient power in terms of the Monopolies Act, particularly after the few amendments we suggested to Parliament, for people who have these price-rings and are pushing up prices to be dealt with. I hope the hon. the Minister will ensure that every effort is made to see that where prices are being increased through rings and monopolies and price-fixing that these people will be dealt with. We had a situation a couple of weeks ago where the daily newspapers in this country put up the price of newspapers by two cents on the same day. At the same time they reported to the country the greatest profits they have ever had. Whether they are justified in getting the extra two cents for a newspaper, I am not in a position to say, but I think it should be looked at and that a close watch should be kept.
The same with price control. I am not asking for price freezing; I do not believe in it and the hon. the Minister knows that. All you do is to create a pent-up situation which breaks out eventually. But there are many commodities that are already price-controlled and the question is whether we are looking after that situation sufficiently well. I remember saying here when we had a merger of the cinemas, that what was going to happen was that after these mergers, cinemas were going to take all their old theatres, they were going to recondition them, they were going to give them fancy names, big screens and comfortable chairs and the result would be that the public would have to pay three or four times as much to go to a cinema. That is exactly what happened. Cinema tickets are price controlled, but they are price controlled on the basis of a return on capital investment and, if the return is high enough, the more capital you invest, the better you like it. These are the things that must be watched. There is a very definite obligation involved; these matters of price control should be very carefully taken care of.
There is one issue which is causing us a lot of concern as a result of the reply by the hon. the Minister of Immigration to a question put the other day by my friend, the hon. member for Pinelands. We were told that in 1972 the net immigration to South Africa was 24 892 and that the provisional figure for 1973 is 17 624. In terms of the Economic Development Programme we require 30 000 immigrants per annum if we are to reach a growth figure of 5½%. With an average growth rate target of 53,4% per annum, the target recommended by the EDP and accepted by the Government, there is going to be a shortage of White labour of 22 000 by 1977, which figure is based on an intake of 30 000 immigrants per annum. The EDP says the shortage is to be met by the use of non-White labour. To meet a growth rate of 5,5%, we should have had 60 000 immigrants in 1972 and 1973 whereas we only had 42 516. If the drop continues we are going to be in very serious trouble in trying to meet our Economic Development Programme, which we have not met in the last four years anyway. The question is why we are not getting these immigrants. We know there are problems abroad. There were boom conditions on the Continent and therefore we did not get the same number of immigrants, but are we perhaps not being too selective? The other factor one hears about from immigrants is that when immigrants came to South Africa previously, they always had a very substantial tax saving. However, that tax saving is gone now. Our tax is now commensurate with other countries in the world as regards benefits. There is particularly the case of married women, a case for which I have pleaded so often. The percentage of married women employed in countries such as Great Britain, Germany and Holland is far greater than the percentage employed in South Africa. There the married woman is used to working. When she comes here she finds that, although she works, there is very little left of her salary. These are matters which must be given immediate attention because our whole economic programme is based on a certain intake of immigrants and, if we do not get them, we will run into trouble.
I have another problem, a very serious one, namely the question of the Companies Act. This Act was passed last year and is causing a great deal of concern, particularly to the accountants, because the position simply is that this Act cannot be complied with. It is just not possible in terms of the legislation we passed last year to comply with the requirements. We did our best in this House to get changes made and I must say the hon. the Minister was very co-operative at the time. I think he accepted about 30 of our amendments which improved that legislation. He had some amendments of his own too. Nevertheless there are still many problems which must be resolved. We raised a number of them in the debate last year, but we were not successful in having the legislation changed. There are such matters, for example, as the definition of “holding companies”, of “subsidiary companies” and of “controlling companies” which we discussed. There is an article on this matter by Mr. Justice Van Wyk de Vries, who was the chairman of the commission. He says that the starting point of his complaints is these definitions. “I must confess that I, as a lawyer, find myself in serious difficulty with the definitions in the new Act and their implications,” he says. Then I have a circular from the National Council of Chartered Accountants. They set out a great number of matters that require attention. There is section 37 which has to be dealt with. This section prohibits loans by a company to its controlling company and to a company controlled by its controlling company, something which just does not work out in ordinary business. There is section 290 which has been discussed by a great number of people. “It was apparently the intention,” they say “of the Van Wyk de Vries Commission that the concept of controlling and controlled companies should be introduced for the purpose of prohibitions in the Act, and that the concept of holding and subsidiary companies should be retained for purposes of disclosure. As the Act presently stands, the consolidated annual financial statements cannot include indirect interest in subsidiaries or in foreign companies.” They set out a number of provisions in the Act which cannot be complied with. The same applies to what is now the famous section 297, which has given us trouble from the time the Companies Act was passed. The same applies to the Fourth Schedule, of course, which deals with the question of balance sheets—which are no longer balance sheets, but “financial statements”—and the information which has to appear in them. Sir, this is a real problem, because the Act became law on 1 January and the requirements of the Act apply to the financial periods of any company which ended or will end during 1974. We now have the position that these requirements cannot be met. I know the hon. the Minister and the hon. the Deputy Minister are obviously aware of these matters. They have had representations made to them. I am sure that I can leave it to them to find a way out of this impasse with which we are now faced. Something must be done, otherwise everybody will be in trouble.
I am sorry that my friend, the hon. member for Lydenburg, is not here, because he used most of his speech in the Second Reading debate to deal with the comparison of prices, increases in prices and income tax paid in other countries and in South Africa. I only want to take income tax to show how fallacious all his arguments are. He said—
This may be true; I have not checked the figures, but these figures standing on their own are absolutely meaningless. Firstly, the examples he took, viz. Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain are all socialistic States. They all run socialist economies. Even Great Britain, with her Conservative Government, has had the spillover of things like the dole and free medical services. Secondly, to evaluate what the difference is between income tax of 8,4% in South Africa and 22,3% in Great Britain on the same income, one has to look at a lot of other figures: What is the rate of indirect taxation? What social services does the taxpayer receive? How do medical benefits compare? We know that medical benefits in the United Kingdom are far, far greater than here. As a matter of fact, you do not get any medical benefits here unless you are poor enough not to have any income at all. Then the provincial hospitals perhaps will take care of you. To continue, what of the unemployment benefits? We know that in England and even in America and in Germany today, it almost does not pay people to work. That is why they strike so easily, because the amount of unemployment benefits they get is almost what they earn in their jobs. You do not find that here. We have unemployment benefits for a certain section of our community but certainly not for all. How do the pensions compare? We know that ours are very low, and we know that in New Zealand, for example, they talk about looking after their people from the cradle to the grave. It is a socialistic State. When you make a proper comparative study, then you will perhaps get something worthwhile; but the figures which the hon. member quoted in vacuo are absolutely meaningless. Now, Sir, I have a book here, called Fiscal Harmonization in Common Markets and they have a table which deals with the estimated average personal income tax rate on dividends and the estimated total standard taxes, corporate and personal, on investment income. Now if you look at Belgium, for example, you will see that there is a personal rate of 2,76, but if you look at the total, it is 35 4. Italy has a very much lower personal rate, and in this regard one could say that Italy is very good and Belgium is very bad because Italy’s rate is only 1,09 and Belgium’s is 2,76, but in total Belgium’s rate is only 35,4, while Italy’s is 45,6. This shows, Mr. Speaker, that if one plays with figures one must play with proper figures, examine them in depth and get some proper answers.
This sort of situation is not new. What happened in this House last session, Mr. Speaker? On 10 May last the hon. the Minister made a statement on principles and policies concerning banking and insurance. One of the principles was that foreign controlled banks operating in South Africa would, within a period of 10 years, have to reduce their shareholding to a maximum of 50%. Thereafter, within a further reasonable period of time, the shareholding would have to be reduced to 10%. We warned the hon. the Minister at the time that he was going much too far in demanding a reduction in foreign shareholding to 10%. You see, Sir, my friends opposite sometimes forget that there are great benefits to be derived from foreign banks operating in the Republic. We need the foreign capital they introduce into the country. We need strong friends abroad. We need somebody who can be our eyes and our ears, particularly in some parts of the world where we ourselves cannot see or hear.
It was obvious from the very start that the hon. the Minister and the Government could not carry out these principles of policy. They had to listen to us and they had to abandon any idea of a compulsory reduction in foreign shareholding in banks beyond 50% which the hon. the Minister announced a few months ago. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done by the very announcement of the hon. the Minister that foreign banks would have to reduce their holdings in banks in South Africa to 10%. The hon. the Minister will agree, I am sure, that financial circles were very critical of this action. Their attitude was: The banks today, who tomorrow? This did a great deal of harm to South Africa’s image and a great deal of harm to and lessened confidence in investment in South Africa. If anything has demonstrated, Sir, how foolish this concept of a reduction to 10% in shareholding was, it is the oil position. I want to put this question to the hon. the Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs: What does he think the oil situation would have been in South Africa if all the international oil companies that operate in South Africa had been forced by law to reduce their interest in those companies in South Africa to 10% ? What would have happened? I shall tell you. We would all have been riding bicycles at this moment.
That is good exercise.
We never said that oil companies would have to reduce their shareholding to 10%.
The banks had to.
The banks yes, but not the oil companies.
Yes, Sir, but that is what I said. They say overseas: The banks today, what tomorrow? The principle is the same. The hon. the Minister has a large number of companies and organizations which support his party and he knows that they are keeping up the pressure to buy shares in overseas companies, to force them to put their shares on the market and to force them to reduce their interest in South Africa. There was the case where the hon. the Minister of Economic Affairs, I think it was, opened a refinery and he had no sooner done so, than they were demanding a bigger share in the refinery.
That is correct.
That is what happened. Therefore it applies to oil. If we had been left here with the situation where we had forced the oil companies to give up everything except 10% of their interest in their companies, we would have had no petrol in this country at all. It is the standing, the international ramifications, the strength, the knowledge of what is going on overseas that has enabled us, through our good friends the oil companies, to get the oil that we require.
Mr. Speaker, I raise these problems just to show how far we, and particularly hon. members opposite, are from reality sometimes, how we decide on a line of action without any real investigation, without any real consideration of the problem in depth, and, worst of all, without any anticipation of the ultimate results. We start on a course which seems to be fine for the moment, but we never follow the thinking through. We do not say: It may be all right at this particular point of time, but what will the position be in two or three years’ time? This brings me back to what was perhaps the theme of my Second Reading speech. What we want in South Africa today is factual thinking; what we want is planning; what we want is an improvement of our statistical information. One reads, for example, that the Americans complain that they do not get statistics. They get statistics in a day which we do not get in a year, and yet they complain that they do not get statistics. Unless we have the statistics to do the planning, unless we have the planning to plot our future course, we will never get anywhere. We will have this sort of thing arising time and time again until such time as we get down to this blue-print which we have been asking for now for years.
Mr. Speaker, I shad deal more fully with a few of the aspects to which the hon. member referred in a moment. At the outset I just want to reply to his representations in regard to the Companies Act and point out that representations were received from various quarters and considered by the Advisory Committee on the Companies Act, and that draft legislation has already been drawn up to make provision for amendments where problem areas have arisen. May I say at once that section 37, to which the hon. member referred, is inter alia one of the sections which will, according to the department’s proposals, be amended. However, it is not possible to introduce the amendment during this session, but we intend recommending to the Government that the proposed amendments be published for general information so that the legislation may be considered at a later stage this year. Interested parties will then be at liberty, after the proposed amendments have been published, to address further representations to the Advisory Committee in respect of the proposed amendments and also in respect of any other section in the Act which is not mentioned in the proposed amendments. We also intend, at a later stage, to request leave of Parliament to make the legislation with retrospective effect. The intention is, after the Cabinet has approved the proposed amendments and after they have been published for scrutiny to make the provisions inoperative at present and to condone non-compliance with these provisions until such time as it is possible to effect the amendments. Sir, the second point I should like to make at this stage is this: To my mind the hon. member was stating a basic inconsistency when he said that we should apply the surpluses in the State coffers for long-term benefits, whereas what his proposal amounted to on the other hand is that we have to apply the surpluses for tax concessions, for increasing subsidies and for other concessions. Sir, surely these remarks are basically inconsistent. But let me begin by saying that it was transparently clear that hon. members on the opposite side of the House were using this Budget debate to draw attention away from the internal crises in their own ranks. Secondly, it is very clear that the hon. members were trying to find a sensitive area on which they could focus the attention of the public in order to draw attention away from themselves. Sir, such conduct on the opposite side is understandable, but whether it is pardonable is a different matter. The fact remains that the hon. members on that side acted as they did—and the hon. member for Von Brandis said that he was going to use it in the election—precisely because they cannot afford to go to the country on the fundamental and pressing national problems of South Africa, which centre around the relations situation in our country. This is because they do not have the answers, and in the extent to which they do in fact have answers, they are so divided on what the answers are that each one gives his own version. [Interjection.] I am coming to that. The fact of the matter is that there is an energy crisis among those hon. members. Do you know, Sir, those hon. members spend more time trying to solve their own internal problems and stalking one another like hunters than they spend on genuine suggestions and the formulation of answers to the problems of South Africa. The hon. members expect the voters to have confidence in them, while they do not even have confidence in one another. Not only are they saddled with an energy crisis, but also with a crisis of confidence. The hon. member for Newton Park should sign a declaration of faith with the hon. member for Wynberg, or is there no faith? I think the hon. member for Orange Grove should sign a declaration of faith with the hon. member for Bezuidenhout. Or is there no faith between them?
On what do you base that?
I think that when the Opposition wants to lay claim to the support of the public and to forming the alternative Government, they should not occupy their time with such a farce as the one they are at present engaged in. But not only do they have a crisis of confidence and an energy crisis. They have a leadership crisis as well. Let me hasten to add at once that they do not have this crisis because they have a scarcity of leaders. I suspect that at the moment they have more leaders than followers. But they have a lack of leadership, and they are suffering as a result of that lack, and they cannot be effective. Of course it is true that in a period of rising prices, as we are at present experiencing in South Africa, and as is being experienced in the world, it goes without saying that attention from all quarters will be concentrated and focused on this very increase in prices. Secondly, it is also true, since the Government is responsible for the general economic policy of our country, that the Government will be expected to apply the instruments which it has at its disposal for price stability purposes so as at least to curb the rate of price increases, and that it should take those steps which are within the means of a government to combat inflation. The hon. member for Parktown made certain suggestions as to how this problem should be dealt with. He has done so again now, but I think he would be the first to concede that at least four of the six proposals he made mean only that he wishes to reimburse or to compensate people for inflation, and that this has nothing to do with the causes of inflation. Obviously one can accept that people in the lower income groups inevitably feel the pinch of inflation sooner and to a greater extent. Of course it is true that the lower income groups spend a larger part of their incomes on basic requirements, such a foodstuffs. But on the other hand it is equally true that it is in fact these components which are being subsidized by the Government with enormous amounts, R80 million per annum. Surely it is correct to say—and I should like to ask the hon. member whether he does not agree with these statements—that the inflation problem today has assume far more of a long-term character, and that it cannot simply be dealt with by means of short-term and ad hoc action. Hence the Government has, during the past few years, not only taken short-term steps to try to cope with the situation, it has also adopted long-term measures. And the Government did this in spite of the fact that they were unpopular, and when they were being adopted, the Government did not have the support of the hon. members opposite. On the contrary, the accusation was then levelled at us—and it was repeated here the other day by the hon. member for King William’s Town—that we are damping the economy of the country and that they were the representatives of a growth idea or school of thought and that members of this Government were the supporters of a damping school of thought. But surely that is not true. Let me begin with the statements which the hon. member made.
The first point which the hon. member made was that sales tax, which brings in a revenue of R196 million, should be abolished, but on the other hand he argued that the lower income group was being hardest hit and that they were spending a larger part of their income on foodstuffs, whereas there is not one cent of tax on foodstuffs. Sir, surely the argument in this particular regard does not hold water, for there is no sales tax on food whatsoever. Secondly, the hon. member told us that the customs and excise duty on oil and petrol should be reduced, and that the oil pipeline rate for the conveyance of oil products to the interior should be lowered.
But the hon. member has never stated, assuming that he is correct and that we should use surpluses for long-term planning, where the funds must come from in the short term to make all the concessions which he advocated. Thirdly, he proposed that the subsidy on foodstuffs be increased, since the upward trend in prices, particularly of foodstuffs, had been a phenomenon during the past year or so in this country and abroad. The fourth proposal which the hon. member made was that productivity in the production enterprises should be increased, and the method he suggested for doing this is that we should lower the marginal rate of income tax, and secondly that company tax should also be lowered so as to allow the accumulation of funds within the companies themselves, thus enabling them to have the funds for investment and expansion of capacity.
Sir, the first three steps, I think he will concede, are negative proposals in this sense that they are not directed at the causes of inflation or at counteracting these, but are directed at the symptoms, and that we are dealing merely with a short-term operation. The Government has repeatedly and at every possible opportunity already made contributions in the past to do precisely what the hon. member was advocating, which was to make concessions in a time of rising prices for people in these specific directions and spheres which he indicated. Sales duty is being reduced in the proposals which are now under consideration, but the hon. member had obviously forgotten that this is not the first time during this financial year that sales duty has been reduced, for example that it was previously reduced to an amount of R60 million, within the present financial year.
I should not like to take up the time of hon. members by enumerating the steps taken during the past few years to combat inflation, but I do nevertheless want to remark in general that Government actions in this specific connection were determined by the circumstances which obtained at a given juncture, and that the steps were correlated with the causes of inflation. The complete list is known. The most important which have already been taken were the increase in pensions, the increase in special subsidies, the earlier repayment of the 1968 loan levy, etc. The hon. member says we are merely returning what we took. That is quite correct, but at the time when it was taken, it was taken for other reasons, and the hon. member is aware of this. Concessions were made in respect of students, and concessions were made in respect of medical expenses. I have already referred to the sales duty which was reduced.
The Government is of the opinion that if it does the one thing, it should not fail to do the other. It must therefore give attention—and I believe that in the Budget proposals of the hon. the Minister it has proved that it did in fact do so—to the alleviation of inflation pressure, particularly on the lower income groups. This it has done amply in these proposals and during the past year. But on the other hand it must give attention—and I think that this is a main priority—to the removal and the elimination of the basic causes of the inflation problem with which we are confronted today. It is not only in South Africa that this problem is being experienced; it is something which exists throughout the world. The hon. member suggests in this specific connection that productivity should be increased.
I do not dispute that all of us should advocate an increase in productivity, but unfortunately the hon. member wants to bring about an increase in productivity in a negative manner. Firstly he wants to bring it about by returning taxes. He proposes a reduction in the marginal rate of taxation for the higher income groups. Under given circumstances there could be a great deal of merit in this particular request of the hon. member, but it is surely obvious that this is not the occasion now, with this Part Appropriation Bill, to give attention to this specific aspect.
Secondly, the question arises whether this is going to have the effect we should like to achieve. The second proposal made by the hon. member in order to increase productivity was that company tax should be reduced, in order to allow an increase in internal company funds which could then be utilized for production purposes. That would consequently lead to low unit prices. But in the same breath the hon. member referred to the question of price control, which, in general, he does not want and which I shall discuss in a moment. In respect of those commodities which are in fact subject to price control, the hon. member doubted whether effective control over them exists. I want to tell him that the basis on which consideration is given to whether the price of a specific commodity, in respect of which there is price control, should be increased or not, can take place according to one norm only, and that is after taking the return on capital investment into consideration. If the hon. member wishes to suggest a different method, he should do so.
Sir, those hon. members are the apologists for growth. That means investment and the expansion of capacity. What incentive can there be for investment in the production sector if one eliminates the profit expectation on the basis of a return on capital? After all, it is true that very large company profits, even after the payment of the 41% tax, surely means—we see the reports every day—that companies ought to be able to mobilize sufficient funds within their company set-up for utilization in fixed investment and the expansion of capacity. I think that companies have a responsibility in this particular connection. If they do not do so, they cannot grow, nor can we achieve the long-term objectives which we would like to achieve.
Sir, once again it is not necessary for me to spend a great deal of time on the various steps which have been taken during past years to counteract the rate of inflation. But, for the information of the hon. members for Parktown, Cape Town Gardens and Constantia, it is perhaps necessary just to remind them of a few of the steps which were taken and which they conveniently overlooked, or perhaps conveniently did not want to remember. I want to mention only a few. It will be clear to hon. members—at least it will be clear to those of them with an understanding of the economy, and I know the hon. member for Parktown has that—that different steps have to be taken in the light of different circumstances.
For example, during the 1969-’70 boom, to which the hon. the Minister referred, it was necessary to know that the problem was due to an overheating of the economy through overspending. The inflation problem which existed at that time had to be dealt with by means of measures which were specifically intended to combat the cause of the inflation problem at that stage. The hon. member for King William’s Town, however, compares every set of circumstances as if they are comparable, instead of speaking as the hon. member for Parktown does who at least speaks sensibly about these matters. As against that, we had a high rate of inflation last year and the year before, the cause of which was not an excessive demand, but cost increases which had been built in from the production side, over which there was little control and against which even less could be done.
Hon. members on the opposite side of the House are very fond of reminding the Government that it is responsible for the increase in the inflation rate as a result of its policy, but I want to state clearly here what will be confirmed and borne out by experts in this field, which is that by far the greatest portion of the increase in prices was beyond or still is beyond the control of this Government, just as it is beyond the control of other governments, and just as certainly as it will be beyond the control of those hon. members if they should, quite by chance, happen to come into power.
In spite of what the hon. members opposite say, these factors include the effect of the international monetary chaos on South Africa. It includes the import costs of products acquired elsewhere, and it shows the influence which very severe drought conditions have—something which has been experienced over the past years in this country and elsewhere. It also has a bearing on the availability of agricultural produce such as fresh vegetables and fruit under drought conditions in our own country. These factors alone were responsible for most of the increase in the inflation rate last year. I am asking hon. members opposite, in all fairness, what steps the Government could have taken to counteract these circumstances. Let us consider the steps which have in fact been taken against inflation.
In the first place, in given circumstances, saving was encouraged at the right time when there was an overheating of the economy as a result of overspending. This saving was brought about in a variety of ways. It was, inter alia, encouraged by increasing the rates of interest on Post Office Savings Bank accounts, by introducing national savings certificates, by raising the ceiling on tax-free investments, by extending the period of notice prior to demand, and by issuing tax debentures. The point is that the steps taken under those circumstances, were situated in these specific spheres. There was a time when there was excessive liquidity and when it was essential to direct the steps taken at the reduction of that liquidity. Once again the steps in this particular context were taken. Examples of this are that the discount rates were raised, that the liquid assets of the banks were increased, and that moral persuasion was applied to banking institutions to ensure that the available funds were channelized in the directions in which they could be most effectively utilized. In addition, there was a curtailment of Government expenditure, and the State financed its deficits at that stage in a non-inflationistic way as far as possible.
It is true that the steps taken in the past over a long period dealt fundamentally with the cause of inflation. There were times when it was necessary to increase productivity and stimulate production. The steps taken in this specific regard, which hon. members conveniently forget, were tariff protection and the raising of tariff walls to guarantee domestic production. Secondly, a boost was given to immigration.
The hon. member stated, with every justification, that the Economic Development Programme presupposes a certain number of immigrants, but he furnished the answer himself as to why, during the past year or two, it had not been possible to achieve this objective in terms of numbers. This was the economic activity prevailing in the countries from which we normally draw our immigrants. The fact remains that if the expected levelling-off in economic activity elsewhere takes place, it will be possible to supplement the stream of immigrants. Thirdly, the Government tried to stimulate productivity by introducing interest rate control, and the hon. member is not in favour of interest rate control. The maximum deposit rates and other steps such as credit ceilings, lower discount rates, and so on, were also introduced. Concessions were made in respect of the White/Bantu labour ratio in our industries. The investment allowance on machinery and buildings was increased. Alleviation of sales duty was granted to keep prices low and to stimulate demand and production.
In the Little Budget now under discussion, the hon. the Minister has in fact reduced the sales duty on, for example, office machinery. The reduction on this one item alone costs R3,2 million. This is just another of the steps which I want to mention as an example of the steps which the State is taking to increase productivity. There were incentive measures for promoting exports, as well as tax concessions for labour training in urban areas. Steps were also taken to stabilize prices, and included in this was the relaxation of import control, of which the hon. member is aware. Price control was introduced on important commodities and undesirable conditions in the market were counteracted. Interest rates for farmers and house owners were subsidized.
Since the hon. member discussed price maintenance, I want to say to him at once that any example of this can be brought by him to the attention of the department, cases where undesirable practices occur, practices which are not in accordance with the Monopolies Act. The necessary machinery to counteract something like this does in fact exist in the department, machinery for investigating such practices. However, I think that it makes little sense to make a generalization in this House without bringing the particular case to the attention of the department. I think that in this specific connection all of us have a duty and a responsibility to bring such cases to the attention of the department.
In the sixth place there were times when we had to stimulate growth. In this case devaluation was one of the steps taken, in spite of the accusation levelled by hon. members opposite at the Minister that this was an act of bankruptcy. Concessions were made in respect of the universities, such as higher allowances and exemptions to donators. Then, too, there was the creation of infrastructure and the balance of payments in respect of capital flow. I want to emphasize that all these steps were taken at some stage or another during the past few years, in various combinations and variations, measures relating to the cause of inflation and not necessarily concentrated on the treatment of the symptoms. I believe that the Government did in fact counteract the cause of the problem each time, and made this its first priority, rather than to do what the hon. member proposed, namely to look at the symptoms and reduce the effect of these slightly. I think the hon. member agrees with me that we cannot afford, in the phase in which we now find ourselves, to have a general freezing of prices and wages. The fact remains that this is a popular idea. Similarly, the fact remains that such a step can be applied far more easily in countries with a socialist economy than it can in South Africa. I think, however, that in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it would be detrimental for the other objective which we are achieving, i.e. to stimulate growth. Thirdly, I believe that such a direct and drastic interference in the economy of any country, which is easier in other countries, cannot be lightly undertaken here. South Africa, which has been and is known as a free-enterprise country, has been attractive to overseas investors as a result of its sound record in this specific regard, would be making a mistake if attention were now given to such drastic considerations. I agree with the hon. member that we welcome the inflow of foreign capital into our country. What is more, price freezing and control in general do not eliminate the causes, but only treat the symptoms. What is more it has been the experience in other countries where this form of control has been used that they were in the end simply putting off the evil day, with far more detrimental effects than would otherwise have been the case. In 1972 the hon. the Minister of Finance mentioned the Government’s objectives for the specific year in order of importance. He stated them to be the strengthening of the balance of payments position, an increase in the growth rate and the combating of inflation. Now that the balance of payments is in a stronger position and the upsurge in the economy has gained momentum—which I think will continue, for I think that all the ingredients for growth are present in South Africa—it is possible that additional attention could also be given to the last objective, namely the combating of inflation. However, I want to say that at this stage of the upsurge, where we only have one year of better growth behind us, we should guard against taking steps, unless they are unavoidable, to harm the acceleration of the growth rate. [Time expired.]
Mr. Speaker, I should like to make use of this last open debate inter alia to have a few words with the hon. the Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Education on his radio talk, but before coming to that I should briefly like to deal with a few other small matters which were raised in the course of other debates by members on the opposite side. In the course of debates preceding this one various members on the opposite side levelled accusations at me to which I will simply not be able to reply because I will not have the time to do so. In every Parliament one of the unfortunate situations is of course that one is not able to reply to everything because there is not time do do so. This applies in particular to the hon. member for Wonderboom, the hon. member for Carletonville, as well as to the hon. the Minister of Defence. I do not object to criticism. I believe that an hon. member should account for his standpoints and his statements. What I do not like—and I think this applies to most reasonable members—is the application of a double standard. Members on the opposite side, particularly members of the Cabinet, who from time to time level sharp criticism at the Press, demand from the Press and from other people the utmost degree of exactitude when they level criticism, but they do not apply this themselves in their own actions in this House. Let me mention one or two examples.
The hon. the Minister of Defence levelled a charge in a previous debate that I had slandered him in the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. What evidence does he have for saying that? He has none. He cannot have any for the simple reason that it never happened. The facts of the matter are these: I attended two sessions of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. At the one the hon. the Minister was not mentioned at all, and at the other I had a parliamentary colleague with me. Hon. members will know that one may not speak on behalf of another person if one has been on a parliamentary tour. For that reason I cannot speak for the hon. member on the opposite side who was with me there. I can speak only on my own behalf. However, there were two of us at that meeting when the question of the hon. the Minister was raised. A question was put on the statements made by the hon. the Minister in South Africa on Ussalep and on the Council on Foreign Relations. The question was not put to me, however, because I am not a member of the hon. the Minister’s party. Unfortunately I cannot, according to the rules of the parliamentary tour, say anything further than simply to add that I subsequently rose and told the meeting that this was a matter which we would settle in the South African Parliament and not there, before the Council. The hon. the Minister of Defence owes it to this House to explain why, at a Nationalist Party conference last year, he launched a bitter attack on Ussalep, the exchange scheme between America and South Africa, the chairman of which is Mr. Dawid de Villiers, the head of Nasionale Pers and a Nationalist; he is not a member of the United Party. The hon. the Minister made a bitter attack on the Council on Foreign Relations. He associated Ussalep with world communism, and accused the Council on Foreign Relations of wanting to create a world socialist order. It was clear to everyone, when the hon. the Minister made those statements, that he must have read a lot of books by writers of the lunatic fringe in America. He must have read books given to him by Jaap Marais. Virtually every Nationalist Party Newspaper criticized the Minister of Defence. What is more, the former head of the Information Service, Mr. Piet Meiring, addressed a sharp reprimand at the Minister of Defence. Sir, such a man must not come and complain to me in this House when he makes attacks on countries abroad, attacks which are harmful to us, and then tries to shift the blame for the consequences onto other people. I can say to the hon. the Minister in his absence that those bodies are not only laughing at what he said of them, but that it has placed our foreign representatives in a very difficult position. I have yet to meet the person who was able to defend the hon. the Minister.
I want to furnish another example of the political methods we sometimes come up against here. The hon. the Minister of Defence read out a quotation here from a speech which I made last year, by means of which he tried to prove that I had allegedly adopted the standpoint that we were arming against the internal population and, secondly, that the expenditure on defence should have been cut from R400 million to R50 million. Sir, I said nothing of the kind. I never implied that we were arming against the internal population. There is nothing even remotely like that in my speech.
You insinuated it.
No, of course not. That is nonsense.
What did you say then?
What I did in fact say was that the insecurity of our country stemmed from our internal political policy, and that in the long run it would be of no avail to continue building up one’s defence force while one allowed the political solution for the interior to remain in abeyance or to fail on the diplomatic front. That has always been my standpoint. I have stated it frequently here. It is my considered opinion—and one can differ with the opinion—that if it had not been for the Government’s race policy, its apartheid policy, we would today have been included in Western military alliances. [Interjections.] Well, hon. members can differ on that score, but it remains my opinion. I also said that if we were able to create an order in South Africa which could enjoy the support of the entire population, of all races, many of the external dangers now confronting us, would then dwindle. What did I then add to that? I said:
Now, at that point the hon. the Minister of Defence stopped short, in the middle of the paragraph. Sir, I am going to ask him, when he is present, for an explanation of why he stopped in the middle of the paragraph. But immediately afterwards I went on to say—
Remember, this is the same sentence which he did not quote any further.
Is it permissible politics for a Minister to read half a quotation and stop in the middle of a paragraph to create a completely false image of what I had said? I say the hon. the Minister will have to explain to us why he stopped in the middle of a sentence. It is one of the most unforgivable things in politics to read a quotation half way with the object of creating a false impression.
The day before yesterday the hon. member for Wonderboom again became excited about a diplomat who had supposedly insulted the Prime Minister. What are the facts? I had the privilege during a recent parliamentary tour of visiting a number of parliaments. I like doing so, because I take a great interest in parliamentary procedure. I visited the American Congress, the Canadian Parliament, a few provincial parliaments and the Peron Parliament in Buenos Aires. Arising out of this visit I was sitting with a diplomat discussing parliaments and what happens in various parliaments. We also discussed the customs, particularly with reference to the Parliament in the Argentine. In the course of this conversation we came to the no-confidence debate. All that that man said was that the use to which the hon. the Prime Minister, for example, puts important debates to make attacks of a personal nature on his opponents by way of newspaper clippings, would not be accepted in the Parliament of his country. What is wrong with that?
That is not what you said.
Of course it is what I said. I make no secret of the fact that I am in full agreement with it. I feel that the rules of our Parliament should be changed in such a way that we have fewer personal attacks in this House. That is not the task of our Parliament. We find time and again that members have nothing to say, but then come forward with a personal attack. I have already criticized the hon. the Prime Minister on this point, and I do not want to repeat it, but I will say that the position today is very different to what it was during the period of Dr. Malan and Dr. Verwoerd. One could disagree with Dr. Verwoerd, but in all the years Dr. Verwoerd was Prime Minister, I never once heard him make a personal attack from his bench on anyone and even less would Dr. Malan have done so. I leave it at that. I do not believe that is the task of Parliament. I do not believe that it is the task of hon. members to make personal attacks on one another.
The hon. member for Wonderboom went further. He made an attempt to prove that our international problems had nothing to do with the Government’s policy, with its internal race policy.
That is true.
There sits another person who believes that. He is entitled to believe what he pleases. No one takes him seriously. Recently, not very long ago, Dr. Waldheim issued a statement which read as follows—
This was on 30 January of this year. He went on to say—
And then I just want to read out the last sentence of what he had to say—
He was referring here to South Africa and Southern Africa—
He then went on to make it very clear that the problem which he saw here was the question of human rights and human dignity. I am not discussing the question of whether he was right or wrong now. The point is that this man was in South Africa; this man represents the U.N.; he represents the feeling of the vast majority there. Whether we want to know it or not, the feeling against South Africa is based on two things, viz. the apartheid policy, and what is seen as our position of colonial boss over South-West Africa. Those are the two problems. Unless we are able to overcome them, our international problems will become worse and our difficulties will increase. After all, we must admit that we are living in a world today which, it is true, we did not make, but in which the central point of attention is the question of human dignity and human rights. These are of paramount importance. Everywhere in the world today there is a holy crusade in progress against discrimination on the basis of colour. All the attempts to present the Government’s policy in a favourable light—the Government may send as many people as it wishes—will not be of much avail. As long as there are practices of discrimination on the basis of colour here, it will be of no avail. Nor will it be of any avail to say that we are multi-national. We are of course a multi-national country, but it will not help the Government to say that we are a multi-national country for the members of the U.N. then ask: “Where is the practical proof of this multi-nationality? Where are the other nations in your representation at the U.N.? Where is the representation of these other nations in the international conferences?” The pleas of multi-nationalism are not believed. Nor does it help to say placatingly that we are going to eliminate discrimination if it is not really being done. I put a question to the hon. member for Wonderboom. I asked him why South Africa did not subscribe to the Declaration of Human Rights. He could not reply. What reply should our representatives abroad then give if people there say: “Look, you say you are eliminating discrimination; so why do you not subscribe to the Declaration of Human Rights?” We are the only country that has not done so. The Declaration of Human Rights is not something which comes into operation inmediately upon its acceptance; it is meant to be a guide-line, an ideal towards which countries should strive. There are many countries which are not implementing it in detail, or are able to do so. The hon. member for Wonderboom, when he first came to this House, had the courage to stand up here and to say that South Africa’s international position was of such a nature that it would not improve until such time as we subscribed to the Declaration of Human Rights. Now he states that the Government’s policy here had nothing to do with the situation in which South Africa finds itself today.
I should very much like to come to the recent radio talk given by the hon. the Deputy Minister of Bantu Administration and Education, and say a few words about that. Before doing so, however, I should like to add my protest to those of other people who complained about the way in which radio today is being harnessed, in a onesided way, to the political propaganda of the Government.
†Mr. Speaker, it cannot be denied that the radio is a powerful medium of communication in any country; it cannot be denied by any hon. member on that side that, as things are at the moment, the radio is being used and abused openly in order to create a political climate favourable to the Government party and its particular politics. I shall tell you. Sir, why I am complaining. This is against every principle of parliamentary democracy. What is the essence of parliamentary democracy? The essence of parliamentary democracy is that political parties should have an equal chance to get into power. That is the essence of democracy. If there is no equal chance, then we cannot speak of a parliamentary democracy. That is fundamental to the whole concept of parliamentary democracy. I say today that an equal chance does not exist in South Africa and I want to mention a few reasons for my saying so.
The first reason, Sir, why we do not have it, is the disparity in the voting power between one voter and another. Is there anybody opposite who will deny that in certain areas in our country the value of one voter is twice to three times that of a voter in another area, merely because of a difference in the geographic circumstances? I make no bones about the fact that I think it is wrong in principle, that it is bad and that it is undemocratic. I believe that Parliament should at all times be a true reflection of the wishes of those who vote for it. That is not the case today and it will not be the case as long as we maintain the present system. At the moment the value of a vote depends on where a man lives. I say that as long as the present system exists, there is no equal opportunity for the different parties.
But the United Party voted for this, and so did you.
Sir, may I ask the hon. member whether that is the standpoint of the United Party?
Sir, of course we do not stand for this inequality.
†We do not want to deprive anybody of anything at all, but there is no valid reason why one man’s vote should carry greater weight than that of another voter. I certainly object strongly to this. [Interjections.] I am afraid I have very little time left; there are scarcely ten minutes left to me.
Mr. Speaker, may I ask the hon. member a question?
Unfortunately I cannot reply to any questions now; I no longer have any time for that. If hon. members had not made so many interjections, I would have been further than I am.
We accept then that that is the standpoint of the United Party.
Now, what of it? We stand for fairness and we stand for equality in this matter. Every man ought to have an equal vote. If a person is so unfair as to come and tell me that because he lives in a certain place, his vote has two or three times the value of mine, I object to that and accuse him of being unreasonable.
But, Sir, there is another problem. There is the question of the delimitation system.
†Mr. Speaker, I do not want to cast any reflection on the Delimitation Commission, but it is strange that after every delimitation, under every Government—I am being fair enough to say “under every Government”—the delimitation is always in favour of the ruling party. [Interjections.] In a country like Germany the delimitation is undertaken by a commission of Parliament, and that commission is representative of all parties. After reaching agreement they have to go back to Parliament to allow Parliament to scrutinize their proposals.
There is another point which makes for a disparity in chances, and that is the right of the Prime Minister to call an election when it suits his particular party. [Interjections.] Our Constitution provides for a Parliament elected for five years. No Government may go beyond that period. The proper thing for a Prime Minister to do is that if in fact his Government’s position becomes difficult, or if he finds himself in jeopardy before the five-year period has elapsed, he should come to Parliament and explain his predicament to Parliament. He should then get the approval of Parliament before he acts in contradiction to the intentions of the Constitution.
Just as you did?
That is again what is done in a country like Germany. Just recently Mr. Willi Brandt, when his Government was in trouble, went to his Parliament and asked for permission to circumvent the provisions of their Constitution. It is wrong that the Leader of the Government should be allowed to call an election when it is to his political advantage. I believe that that is not in the spirit of the principle that parties should have an equal chance at an election.
Sir, I have mentioned the abuse of the radio. No one-sided political speech should be allowed on the radio. I believe that during an election, time should be allocated equally to the Opposition and the Government to put their respective cases to the electorate.
*I do not blame Deputy Minister Janson for having been invited and for having given that talk; I blame the authorities and I blame the radio for this situation of inequality in the politics of South Africa. The hon. the Deputy Minister made a speech on apartheid in which he gave us a definition of separate development. This is what he said (translation)—
It is clear from his definition that separate development refers to the development of the homelands, in other words to major apartheid. He then said—
Sir, it is a very interesting and significant development, that the Government, which created apartheid, now realizes that it must get away from this which was its own creation. [Interjections.]—
I want to put this to the hon. gentleman: I am prepared to co-operate with him on this basis, but on one condition.
You will never do it. We cannot trust you.
The condition is that if he proves to this House that there will be no separation unaccompanied by development, that there will be no separation without development, then I am prepared to drop the word apartheid from my vocabulary and to use the words “separate development”. But how can one in all honesty speak of separate development if there are separating measures which have nothing to do with development? I want the hon. the Minister to explain to me what development there is for a Coloured person if he has to buy a stamp at a separate counter and travel in a separate lift. What development is there for him in that? What development is there for the non-White if he is prohibited from going to the opera house? White children and music students are allowed to go, and they receive all the best benefits.
And the schools?
Sir, there is only one opera house, built with the money of all the taxpayers, but the State comes along and proclaims in the name of so-called separate development: “You stay at home; only my children can go there.” A music student, a ballet student, a music student attending the University of the Western Cape for Coloureds, cannot have the benefits of the use of the opera house. Now I ask you: What development is there in that? What development is it if one salary is paid to a Coloured, another to a Black and yet another to a White? What development is there in that for the non-White? There is, in my opinion—and I can give numerous examples—a difference, and I want to say again that we will be prepared to co-operate if the hon. the Minister can give the assurance that wherever there is no development only separation, they will remove the separation. Then only can one, in all honesty, speak of separate development. Now we constantly have this story that apartheid, colour-discriminating apartheid, is there to eliminate friction, but what do we mean when we speak of friction? [Time expired.]
Mr. Speaker, as usual we had a very interesting argument by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout this afternoon. To begin with I want to put one question to him. He spoke about a diplomat whom he had seen in Buenos Aires. Is that what he referred to when he referred to the hon. the Prime Minister, or did I get it wrong?
No, it was here in South Africa.
In that case I shall leave it at that. What I find very interesting, is that this hon. member made a speech from which it could be implied that he was moving further to the left than the Progressive Party. I now want to know, concerning this question of equal opportunities for all, an equal vote for all, whether the hon. the Leader of the Opposition endorses this.
Who spoke of “an equal vote”? [Interjections.]
I wrote it down. He asked why one man’s vote should be worth more than that of another man.
In the White context. [Interjections.]
What human rights are these that the hon. member is advocating now? Is he now only referring to human rights as far as the Whites are concerned? [Interjections.]
Usually the hon. member makes one speech and afterwards he has to make two speeches to explain what he meant in the first speech.
You wrote it down wrongly.
Un`fortunately, that is his problem. I wrote down what he said about human dignity and human rights. Then he came to votes. Now, however, he is saying that he had nothing to do with the franchise of the Coloureds and the other non-Whites.
I was discussing the delimitation system.
If the hon. member wants to be consistent, then, since he was referring to the theatre and the use of other facilities, he should surely extend his argument to the franchise. I tried to follow the hon. member’s train of thought and that is what he said. [Interjections.] As I see the hon. member, he has shifted from the extreme right wing to a position on the extreme left wing with the result that no one can be sure of him any more. As a result of the kind of speeches he makes, no one is sure where he stands any more. I should like to indicate where the hon. member began. In 1948, on the occasion of a by-election he made available certain particulars as an agent of the United National South-West Party in South-West Africa. On that occasion he said (translation)—
“White ‘Baasskap’ our Policy.” I read this quotation to indicate that this, is the point at which the hon. member started in politics. I do not think it is necessary for me to read everything to him; he knows what he wrote at the time. All I want to indicate, is that that was this member’s point of view when he entered public politics at that time as an organizer. Since then he has moved across a whole front and to such an extent that he is now touching the policy of the Progressive Party and is virtually becoming associated with them. As far as the question of multi-national development is concerned, the hon. member knows that that is something which is traditional in this country. Even today the party of the hon. member for Houghton in Sea Point cannot say where facilities for the non-Whites should be situated. As a result of the pressure on the part of the Whites even that cannot be done. Our way of life is traditional and our people have accepted it as such. When we speak of multi-national development, it is a fact that the Black people do not have rights in this Parliament. However, it is also true that the hon. member is equally bereft of rights in the various legislative assemblies in which the non-Whites have the authority. How the hon. member can be unable to defend that on moral grounds, is beyond my comprehension.
I defended it a long time before you.
The hon. member is deliberately and knowingly engaged in undermining this traditional philosophy of life in South Africa and trying to adapt to what other countries demand of us. That is very clear from this and I want to leave him at that. He can use the next three speeches he makes to explain what he meant today.
†Mr. Speaker, I want to come to a speech made by the hon. member for Zululand. I should like him to reply to a few questions. He made certain implied or expressed accusations which we consider as being very, very serious. A few days ago he said the following referring to a man who is the chairman of a National Party branch in his constituency—
*I then told him that I had been in America at that time and that he had therefore made a blunder. That was the first blunder.
†Now I would like to ask the hon. gentleman to reply to this question. Did he make representations regarding consolidation in Gingindlovu and Ntambanana?
Did I make it?
Yes, I am asking you whether you made representations on behalf of certain people.
I made representations to you.
That is right. Did you succeed in your representations?
Whoever does? [Interjections.]
That was a very good reply. Did you refuse to make representations on behalf of certain sections of the community in your constituency?
I made representations on behalf of the entire constituency.
You did not refuse to make a representation on behalf of any person?
I made representations on behalf of the constituency.
I want to ask the hon. member whether he will concede that he owns a farm in that area in connection with which he made several representations?
I told you yesterday that my farm was not involved in what I said yesterday.
The hon. member made accusations here and I wanted to have these questions replied to. I shall now go into these matters in detail. One of the hon. member’s proposals was that the border, as proposed, be moved away from his farm.
The hon. member informed us of a letter here yesterday. I do not want to tell of private conversations between the hon. member and myself now, because I think that that would not be good manners. However, I do think that he will permit me to repeat one thing which he said to me. He said it when he asked me whether I knew where that border ran. I told him, “I know where the border runs.” Thereupon he said to me, “You bastards!” That was his reaction because the border of KwaZulu had been shifted towards his farm. I cannot blame him for that because anyone could become excited about that. As regards that person whom the hon. member accused yesterday: The hon. member for Zululand said that the Ministers had been in touch with this person. Minister Botha said he did not know the person. That was while I was not here, although he said that I was here. I want to say to that hon. member that I spoke to that person and that I shall come to that. This person told me that he, together with Mr. Dingley from that region, had issued a statement in which they said the following (translation)—
But the hon. member did make very strong representations on behalf of other people and wrote letter upon letter. The reason why these people came here, was that the hon. the Minister had paid attention to the representations made by that hon. member. In other words, he came along here and accused the people of there having been irregularities. Why does he make accusations, whereas according to the evidence before me, he serves, and is prepared to state the case of, certain people in his constituency only? But I quote further:
We now have the state of affairs that the hon. member is making accusations here and casting aspersions, after a speech by the hon. the Minister in which he asked that the matter be approached on the highest level of honesty and integrity. In his speech he throws suspicion on certain people. The assertion of these particular people is that he did not want to give them a hearing. However, he did make his own representations. These representations are on record and I have them here. I want to challenge the hon. member, since such serious allegations have now been made and reflections cast upon people, to come and look at these ministerial files, in his capacity as the leader of his party in Natal, to check whether any representations have ever been made here by the man whom he is accusing here. That man came to see me. When? After that hon. member had made representations to the hon. the Minister in my absence and the Minister had complied with his request and the plans had been changed. Then those people said that the plans were wrong and that they were being detrimentally affected thereby. It was Mr. Dingley in particular who came to see me in August. That was when I saw him and Mr. Heine for the first time. Now those people accuse us of having done an injustice to certain people as a result of the representations made by that hon. member. Since the hon. member made an appeal here for the whole matter to be reviewed, I want to tell him that I think that is a good appeal. We must review the borders and put them back where they were in terms of the proposals of the department before that hon. member interfered and before this unbalanced division occurred through which the interests of only a group of these people was served. I am going to ask the hon. the Minister that we should investigate this matter on this basis. I think that this is the only fair and just way in which this can be done. According to the information at my disposal the hon. member wanted to further the interests of certain people only.
May I ask the hon. the Deputy Minister a question? Was Mr. Heine, or was he not, the principal mover behind the proposals to render the Gingindlovu corridor Black?
He was not. Certain proposals were made to me and to the hon. the Minister. This morning I asked the senior official concerned with this matter, the official the hon. member alleges co-operated with Mr. Heine, at what stage he had met Mr. Heine. He then said that he had met Mr. Heine while the proposal was before Parliament. Mr. Heine said that he had heard that the hon. member for Zululand had made certain proposals which affected them and that he had come to hear what they were. In other words, those plans were compiled and Gingindlovu was included without Mr. Heine’s ever having appeared on the scene. He only appeared on the scene to protect his interests, and they were not really his interests, because this did not affect him further, but those of the other person involved, Mr. Dingley, who had raised objections as well. I still have a number of other bones to pick with this hon. member.
Is the hon. the Deputy Minister not aware that it is widely known in the Gingindlovu/Eshowe district that Mr. Heine led deputations, even of persons on the town council, to see Mr. Pepler long before this happened, so close was his relationship with Mr. Pepler at that time?
I repeat, I am not aware of that. [Interjections.] Yes, that is true. I told the hon. member that it was only after he had interfered that there were deputations. They came to me, too, but Mr. van Wyk says that he saw that man for the first time after the interference by that hon. member. But I told him that he could come and look. Let us now for once and for all dispose of this question of integrity and honesty about which he has been waxing so lyrical, also to the Prime Minister in the no-confidence debate. Let us examine the matter thoroughly. He mentioned other matters here too about which he had complaints and with regard to that I want to acknowledge that he was right. There was a proclamation which declared that area to be a released area before the hon. member received a reply from me. That was my fault, and I shall tell the hon. members why I did this. The department said that this could not be done in any other way and advised the hon. the Minister accordingly. I told them: “Look, we may not make any mistake; I shall go and have a look myself”. On 2 January I went to have a look and I agreed with my department. On 11 January that proclamation appeared. At that time I had so much work that although there was an entry in my diary to the effect that I should write to him again immediately, I unfortunately forgot to do so. I apologized to him in my letter, but he should not kick up a big fuss about it. The fact is simply that I personally wanted to investigate his statement concerning a tribe. Through his statements he tried to make us and the department ridiculous. The department and the ethnologists say that there is in fact a tribe and they gave him the name of the tribe, but he says there is no tribe. He had better settle this matter with our authorities.
I said that it is not divided as you alleged.
At this stage I do not want to read out everything he said. As far as I know, and I have gone into this matter, he said that there was no such tribe. This is a serious state of affairs when a leader of the United Party in Natal comes and serves up to the House this kind of irresponsible insinuation.
I want to go further. There is another matter related to this which I must deal with, and this concerns a previous experience involving this hon. member. Last year I negotiated with the hon. member for South Coast. In mentioning his name, I want to express my appreciation towards him for the way in which he has co-operated with me, has differed with me and has criticized me when necessary. I want to thank the hon. member for South Coast for his absolute honesty. Together with the hon. the Minister of Agriculture I negotiated with the hon. member about the fencing off of a border at Hluhluwe. We granted approval and every time the member for South Coast…
The hon. member.
… the hon. member—I say it with pleasure—said that there were certain difficulties. I examined the matter every time and found that there was no difficulty. Then the hon. member came to me in Cape Town one day and said that I should examine it again. I phoned KwaZulu and they told me that there were no difficulties and that they were going ahead with the erection of the fence. I said to him that I would go to Nongoma to investigate the matter and would inform him on my return if there were difficulties. However I pointed out that I was unable to ascertain, telephonically or otherwise, the existence of any problems. What then reached my ears? Just after I had said that to the hon. member for South Coast, I received a call from the constituency of the hon. member for Zululand, from the Biala and North Zululand Farmers’ Association. They wanted to know why I had put a stop to the fencing operations. When I asked them where they had heard that from, they said they had heard it from the hon. member for Zululand. Then they sent me a letter which read as follows—
Sir, I never gave any indication—and I want to prove this now—that those fencing operations might not continue. But he simply went ahead and immediately sent a letter in which he stated that the Deputy Minister had had the work stopped. They had not done their job, and then, because corridor disease, buffalo-disease, had broken out, he wanted to put the blame on the Department of Bantu Administration and Development and the Government. There was never an instruction that anything should be stopped. This letter was written on 23 March 1973. On 29 March I returned and wrote the following letter to the hon. member for South Coast:
In other words, I told the hon. member for South Coast that I would go and look for the problems, although I could find out nothing by telephone. But that hon. member simply went ahead and wrote immediately to his voters that I had had it stopped.
What I said there is absolutely correct.
I never stopped it, and here is the letter, Sir. Here I once again gave confirmation to the hon. member for South Coast that my verbal consent had caused no problems to arise in KwaZulu. I merely confirmed it in writing. But the hon. member for Zululand wrote to these people that I had stopped it for political gain.
Now I want to go further. Last year, too, during the discussion here, accusations were made by that hon. member, the leader in Natal…
Where is your “credibility” now?
When I have finished with this, I shall say something about the question of credibility. Last year he made the accusation that officials of the Department of Bantu Administration and Development were making certain promises to farmers that if they were quick in offering their land, they would have preference when land was being made available again. The hon. the Minister denied this and defended the officials. But what did he say then? I was not here. At that time the hon. member for Zululand shouted (Hansard, Vol. 44, col. 8279): “Ask Raubenheimer about that.” A little later he shouted again: “Raubenheimer knows that as well.” Every time the hon. member shouted that I knew of something. Neither the hon. the Minister nor I were aware of that. Now I am broaching this matter here again. It is only when people are not present that this hon. member tries, as he did with the letter about the corridor disease, as he did with the story he told about Mr. Heine, and in the case of this official, to sow suspicion and hold out a picture to people for political gain, one which is devoid of all truth and for which he has no proof. [Interjections.] Then he makes wild accusations. I challenged him to come and go through the work of that department and then subsequently to come and talk about this again. But I want to tell him now that a person with this record should not talk about the credibly and the credibility gap in respect of the Prime Minister and others in this House. I think that that is an extremely dangerous thing for him to do. I want to tell him that I am not surprised at Harry Schwarz not inviting him to Mahlabatini. He was afraid the man might trick him. So he preferred to go quietly and alone. I do not know what the voters of Zululand must think of such a representative, and the United Party in Natal of such a leader, when one comes up against circumstances such as these. I want to tell him that an invitation has been extended to him in regard to this matter. He may examine it. It is essential that we should deal with these matters on this level with responsibility and honesty, that we should not sow suspicion unnecessarily or play politics.
Come and speak to my constituents.
The hon. member need not worry; I will be there. I invite him to that meeting.
Sir, I shall make haste in order to deal with a few other small matters. Unfortunately I do not have the time now to go any further into the hon. member’s problems. I want to refer very briefly to other matters. In the first place I want to refer to the Press. The hon. member for Bezuidenhout said here that we were so quick to level accusations at the Press and that we ourselves then went ahead and simply made all kinds of irresponsible statements and blunders here, such as those of which the hon. member for Zululand was guilty. A report appeared over the weekend in the Sunday Times concerning a bus service—I think the hon. member for Durban Point also referred to it—stating that I had supposedly said here that a company had been taken over. I just want to make this matter very clear. I had really thought that the hon. member for Durban Point no longer believed the Sunday Times. I know that people read it, but really, that he should believe the Sunday Times, which said that the United Party had a Mafia clique that was running it? He ought to know better than we do. I do not know whether the Sunday Times may be right concerning such a clique, but I do think that the hon. member should not take the Sunday Times seriously. I just want to put it very clearly here that in my discussion I never referred to a company, but to a bus service. As far as this bus service is concerned. I just want to say that that represents only one branch of the company’s activities. I just want to put that beyond any doubt.
Another small matter I want to touch on very briefly and which could perhaps cause problems somewhere in the Press and which has not been reported correctly, is that I supposedly said that Whites could obtain citizenship in the Bantu areas. The hon. the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development put this matter very clearly yesterday. I too want to put it clearly that I told a farmer that he migh be able to remain in that area, but that I had never told him that he could obtain citizenship there. He can stay there on an agency basis—I did not elaborate on that. However, it is essential that I should put this matter clearly and I am doing it here and now to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding in this connection.
The hon. member for Albany is not here… [Interjections.] Oh, there he is! The other day he was sitting somewhere else. It seems to me that he is moving downwards.
No, he moved upwards.
He breaks away and he moves up. The hon. member referred to this question of consolidation and mentioned certain amounts. He mentioned certain figures in regard to this question of the purchase of land and the amounts involved. He said that 90% of the land in South Africa which had more than 500 mm rain annually, belonged to the Bantu. I just want to bring it to his attention that this figure is somewhat exaggerated. They are not in such a favourable position. They are in a reasonable position as far as that is concerned.
What is the correct figure?
It is about 50%, but not anywhere near 90%. I just want to impress upon him that we should be very certain of our facts before broaching these matters. We should not just come up with any figure we pick up in the street. We cannot always be 100% right, but let us try to be as accurate as possible. In this regard it was also alleged that I had supposedly said that the land cost R500 million. I just want to put this very clearly here. My explanation was that an estimate of the cost in regard to the land which would have to be bought, was R250 million. From experience we know that the placing, the proper settlement of people, the erection of facilities and so on, will cost about the same amount. In other words, the whole amount will then come to more or less R500 million. Therefore it is not only a question of the land which is involved here.
I am mentioning these matters because the election is approaching and in the light of my experience with the hon. member for Zululand one must be very careful and state things very clearly, otherwise a party which does not have a policy and makes no impression on the voters, is inclined to grasp at straws and tell all kinds of stories. In this regard I also just want to say that this question of quota land has been examined very thoroughly by the hon. the Minister and the department. There can be no question of there being any mistakes as far as this quota is concerned. The whole process right from 1936 has been examined. However, I must also say that this is a figure which is changing daily because land is being purchased and transactions are taking place every day. It is not a figure which remains constant. Excisions also take place and then land has to be added. I think it is very important that we should place these facts on record and take note of them.
Mr. Speaker, if ever a Deputy Minister has given an example of incompetence I think it has been the hon. Deputy Minister who has just sat down. Let me remind him, Sir, that there was an occasion once before when doubt was cast upon the word of the hon. member for Zululand in the Other Place. There was a commission, Sir, that went on for months and months and it was found that every single allegation that he had made, was correct.
I have the authority of the hon. member for Zululand to say that if the hon. the Deputy Minister is inclined to reopen the question of the boundaries concerning which he made representations, he would welcome it. Perhaps on this occasion the hon. the Deputy Minister will listen to the representations made to him by the farmers’ associations, the municipalities and the Chambers of Commerce, which he brushed aside on the last occasion.
Sir, may I say to the hon. the Minister of Finance how much I appreciated his references to the hon. member for South Coast and the hon. member for Pinetown. I shall have another opportunity of expressing my feelings in that regard, but I do want to say how much we on this side of the House appreciated what he said.
Sir, I think this debate has provided an opportunity for a thorough review of the Government’s conduct of the administration of the country over the preceding year. But as is appropriate in a debate of this kind, particular attention has been directed to financial and economic questions. Sir, this has been done more particularly because policies on these issues are the mainspring of all other policies. They determine what policies can be carried out and the extent to which they can be successful. What have we found after this debate? I think it is indisputable that we have found that the Government has so mishandled the financial and economic administration of the country that all its other policies—some good, but for the most part bad—have suffered in consequence of that poor administration. Look, Sir, at the state of development of the homelands—how it is lagging behind, how it is proceeding only at a snail’s pace. Look at the lack of immigration because of the poor opportunities that this Government can offer people from overseas. Look at the breakdown of the Physical Planning Act. It is quite obviously on its way out. Look, Sir, at the housing shortages and problems of large sections of our population. I think what has been particularly unimpressive and what I believe the whole country has found so unimpressive has been the Government’s wholly inadequate, inconsistent and evasive defences, as we witnessed again from the hon. the Minister this afternoon. I think I am entitled to say that short-term expediency has been the main characteristic of his financial policy. Month by month, year by year, the Government has fumbled its way from one stop-gap control to some make-shift adjustment, leaving commerce and industry is a state of paralysing uncertainty, and when you meet them, Sir, that is exactly what they talk about. Of course, Sir, the Government has been lucky; I will never deny that. It has been extremely lucky. So often when confusion was at its height, when private enterprise was frustrated to the point where private investment was drying up, there has been another windfall; our rich soil has yielded new and unexpected treasures; new discoveries have been made; world trade has suddenly smiled on us, and the Government has been shielded from the condemnation it has deserved. Let me give you a few examples, Sir. According to this hon. Minister, inflation is a world phenomenon. It is therefore an evil to which we must quietly resign ourselves. That seems to be his approach. But this debate has shown, Sir, that inflation is a product of the interaction of erroneous and shortsighted policies in many countries and that of all the offenders, this Government has been one of the worst. So far from being one of the countries, whose rich endowment of skills and resources should make it relatively immune to the ravages of inflation, it has been shown to be one of the few Western countries whose domestic inflation is in fact running higher than that of most of its trading partners. And, Sir, what remedy does this Government apply? It is too timid to face the full implications of the country’s growth potential. Indeed, Sir, it is prevented by its own political philosophy from setting the high target we need, and so it fails even in its own inadequate aims. It pays lip-service to growth, but it encumbers that growth with excessive caution, with experimental adjustments and with countless restrictions. The Reserve Bank pulls in credit so that there shall be less money to spend on investment and the satisfaction of consumer needs. The Treasury uses the windfall of the increased gold price to release money for consumer needs but not for private investment. Let me say, Sir, that nothing the hon. the Minister said this afternoon by way of explanation is a satisfactory explanation as to what happened. Sir, it must be a nightmare to be a banker in South Africa today. Apart from the constant shifts and adjustments, restraints and controls that are applied with bewildering frequency, bankers were faced last year with the astonishing decree that their foreign share participation would be reduced to 10%. This was dealt with by the hon. member for Parktown. I think the unreality and disadvantage of these abrupt threats were immediately apparent to all but the Government itself. After some months of dismay and disruption, they surreptitiously revised their decision; private assurances were given; whispered repudiations were made, and yet another policy was retracted! Sir, faced with such uncertainties, investment in the private sector has sunk to a low level. Only the Government, weighed down perhaps by inefficiency and lack of business skill but extravagant with the yields of recurrent windfalls, continues to spend on a scale unparalleled in our history. Sir, when the socialists gained command in post-war Britain, they openly set themselves the objective of seizing the commanding heights of the economy. But the creeping socialism that is going on in South Africa seems to have no clear objective at all. Indeed, it seems rapidly to be achieving an objective that the Government says it does not want to achieve. Like so many Government policies, most notably separate development, financial policy seems to set off in a certain direction, moves around in circles, and is then astonished to find itself facing in the other direction. Sir, let us look at the figures. Between 1965 and 1972 net domestic investment in South Africa increased by 55%. During that period investment by public authorities increased by 138% and that of public corporations by no less than 237%. Investment by private business enterprise shows alarming rises and falls as confidence fluctuated over the same period. I believe I am correct in saying that by 1972 it actually stood 32% lower than it had in 1965.
Last Monday night Dr. Albert Wessels opened the academic year of the University of Stellenbosch, and he repeated a grave warning that we on this side of the House have given to the Government on many previous occasions. He said that industrialists were not so much concerned about competition from State enterprise as they were about the many pragmatic reasons which were advanced for the establishment of State enterprise or their extension through the network of affiliates, and affiliates of affiliates. Sir, one affiliate of Iscor controls no fewer than 50 companies in steel, engineering and related industries, all in direct competition with private enterprise. Sir, this concern in industry is going to have a detrimental influence on investment as long as the State proclaims one philosophy but allows another to be applied. Increasing participation by the State in industry may lead to a labour confrontation with political and social consequences, unacceptable not only to the State but also to industry. It is interesting to notice that Dr. Wessels referred to labour unrest in Britain. He said the role played by employees of internationalized British industries had not reinforced confidence in State institutions and State corporations. I believe that is true, Sir. But I believe that I can say that by the same token the investment policies of the Government and the State corporations do not inspire us with confidence that our resources are being efficiently and productively applied. Inflation is caused, above all, by the unproductive use of available resources. Something like 40% of our most productive assets, skilled White manpower, is now directly or indirectly in the service of the State. Of 1,5 million economically active White workers some 400 000 are now directly employed at various levels of Government and in the Railways and in the Post Office. The employment of non-White labour shows a corresponding trend. The effect is further compounded by the restrictive and wasteful manner in which a lot of this labour is used.
I have no time now to go into law investment yields of the vast sums of money invested by the State in State corporations, but I would just mention that the Industrial Development Corporation is now employing a capital of some R500 million for a return, before taxation, of less than 2½%. Iscor is employing far greater capital resources. In 1972 its earnings before tax were below 2%. The Department of Community Development has employed R131 million to date in the purchase of property, most of which is lying idle. The department is unable to produce a profit and loss account, something which may be counted as a relief to our nerves even if not to our pockets. Worst of all is the unproductive expenditure of the Department of Bantu Development which seems to be directed mainly at the conversion of flourishing farm land into sterile units and changes of ownership or management without any new production return at all. Here indeed is socialism, Sir. Here indeed is incompetent investment and the waste of productive resources. Here indeed is galloping disaster with inflation in the saddle. It is small wonder that in this debate we have had no satisfactory replies to what I believe are the burning questions of the day, growth, inflation and employment or unemployment.
We are all agreed today; the Government agrees and we agree, that growth is vital to South Africa, vital to our international position, vital to our security and vital to our welfare. How are we situated under this Government? Even if the optimistic growth predictions for 1973 and 1974 are fulfilled, the minimum requirements of the Economic Development Programme will not be achieved unless in the two subsequent years we can sustain a growth rate of round about 7½%. Now that is very close to the figure of 8% which I suggested as being realistic in terms of our true needs and our true potential. But that was ridiculed by the Government. We were told that it was totally incapable of fulfilment. Now, where are we? If they fail to achieve that sort of growth rate they will have fallen so far short of the minimum five-year target of the EDP that other dire consequences, unemployment, too slow improvement in living standards, deterioration in our international position and things of that sort must inevitably follow. What a prospect, Sir, after all these years in office and on the eve of an election.
Sir, I have already said a word or two about inflation and some of its causes. The other and even greater danger is unemployment, the rising unemployment in South Africa, as the result of the failure of the Government’s economic policy. Now you know, Sir, this Government is always very reticent when asked about real unemployment figures in South Africa. It always tries to fob us off with figures of registered work-seekers but I found something very interesting in the Bulletin of Statistics for December 1973. It gives some interesting figures. It shows that of all the economically active Bantu no fewer than 624 000 were classified as unemployed and unspecified in 1970. That is an increase of over 300 000 in the last 10 years. This is an official figure, despite the fact that over two million Bantu are shown as engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Now those of us who have some experience of the level of bare subsistence on which those engaged in these latter forms of employment are often suffering may well wonder how many of those two million should rightly be added to the category of unemployed and unspecified. To these appalling numbers must be added the number of new work-seekers coming on to the market every year, a figure probably in the region of 140 000 a year. Where is the employment for them? Where are their job opportunities?
This is the problem that lies at the very heart of our future security in South Africa. When we speak of low growth rates and of high inflation rates, we are not just dealing with theoretical economic concepts to be argued philosophically over the floor of this House. We are speaking in reality of human beings, hundreds of thousands of human beings who are suffering hunger, frustration and despair because of the total failure of the economic policies of this Government over the past quarter of a century. Behind these cold statistics there is a vast human drama which is unfolding day by day. At the heart of this tragic drama lies South Africa’s real security problem. It is a security problem that will be remedied not by restrictive legislation, not by the growing authoritarian powers that this Government so unceasingly and methodically asks from us in this House, but only by attention to the real economic and social causes of insecurity in South Africa at the present time. We in the United Party have an answer to these problems and we shall put that answer with vigour and enthusiasm to the public of South Africa during the election that lies ahead. We shall tell the people that the proof of our claim is to be found in the fact that the Government has only succeeded in alleviating the economic and social hardships of large sections of the population where they have reluctantly and often inexpertly tried to adopt the remedies proposed by the United Party, where they have relaxed job reservation, as the hon. the Minister of Transport has done so often in connection with the Railways, where they have increased subsidies on foodstuffs, as the hon. the Minister of Agriculture is not apt to do, where they have taken steps to improve productivity—even though our average over the past four years is so poor, the improvements are there—where the hon. the Minister of Finance has been prevailed upon to reduce sales tax…
You are ruling the country!
… where they have trained workers better, where they have listened to the constructive proposals which have come from this side of the House. [Interjections.] It is the dismal failure of this Government’s policies and nothing else which stands in the way of South Africa achieving its true destiny. We are a wonderfully lucky country. We have the means and the resources, we have the people and the potential skills—all the gifts which a benign Providence has strewn upon us in such profusion, all those advantages which could enable us to become a great country.
And we have the best Opposition in the world. [Interjections.]
The hon. the Prime Minister is right. Unfortunately we have the worst Government in the world. [Interjections.] We have the best Opposition which will very soon replace the worst Government. The hon. the Prime Minister does not seem to appreciate that we will never achieve the heights of which we are capable, we will never become one of the great economic powers of the Western world as we could do with the advantages which we have available to us unless we can succeed in repairing the damage which the policies of this Government have done to South Africa over the last 25 years. Do hon. members opposite not realize yet that it is time to start building new bases from which we can build for our essential future happiness, for our security as a great country? We must realize that our economy with its vast potential for growth must be released from the artificial restrictions based on ideological considerations which are slowing up development, undermining confidence and limiting growth. Nobody knows it better than the hon. the Prime Minister.
May I ask you a question? If all that is so, why do you not succeed in selling your policy to the electorate?
The hon. the Prime Minister asks why we do not succeed in selling our policy to the electorate. I shall tell him—because there is a certain sales resistance induced very largely by the newspapers under the control of his party and by Radio South Africa which seems to be used as a special propaganda weapon of his party. Let me tell that hon. gentleman that, as the cost of living rises, as people feel the pinch as the result of the policies of this Government, there is no doubt whatever that change is in the air.
We have to work in this country for the development of a free enterprise economy which is going to give job opportunities and higher living standards for everybody including those 140 000 workers who come on to the market each year. That is the challenge which faces both the Government and the people of South Africa and in it lies the key to the future pattern of our growth and development in South Africa. We need a strong and a healthy economy in this country not merely for the sake of wealth itself, but for what can be done with that wealth, for the security that wealth can buy and for the social justice it can afford. I have spoken before in this House of our dedication over the years to giving positive service to all the peoples of our country by creating what we have called a compassionate society, a compassionate society in which social justice will be ensured and the interest and well-being of all individuals and groups will be safeguarded. But this Government falls short; it falls short in the educational opportunities we would like to see created. It is parsimonious to the widow, the neglected and under-privileged children and it does not afford the sick and the infirm the security we would like them to have. It is often ungenerous to social pensioners, but, worse still, it is careless of the sanctity of family life and the advantages of home ownership amongst a vast section of our population. I want to ask again whether hon. members opposite have not realized yet that our security depends far less on our ability to muzzle the complaints of those who demand social justice than on our ability to supply it in full measure to all sections of our population. Security depends far less on the short-term political advantage of restricting opportunity to the privileged few than on our ability to provide more jobs and a higher living standard to the many. Those are the only true foundations for peaceful and constructive race relations in this country. It is on those secure foundations that we believe that we should build our federal structure in South Africa. I know that the Government claims that politically it has nothing to learn from us because it knows everything. I believe that the day is not far distant when in this field also it will be seen and acknowledged by people of South Africa that our federal policy is the only answer and that only by this means can we create a common purpose—and a single loyalty which is essential to our internal security. It is the achievement of this great ideal and not in the theory of a political system or even in the mere propagation of its virtues, that we shall also find our international fulfilment. In that way we shall find our international fulfilment because the world is far less interested in the conduct of sterile controversy than it is in progress, justice and constructive co-operation in the country which it is having a look at. Proof of such justice and co-operation which can be seen by the world at large, will enable us to resume our status in the outside world once again. A prerequisite for the success of such development and its recognition by the outside world will undoubtedly be evidence that greater respect is evinced in South Africa for the freedom and the dignity of every individual. I want to say that it is within this area of personal freedoms and the dignity of many that we in the United Party stand boldly and proudly apart from this Government and its regime. Our beliefs are founded upon centuries of democratic endeavour in the civilized countries of the Western world.
Such as your nominations.
I do not know whether that passes for humour on that side of the House. I do believe that the fruits of those endeavours over centuries in the civilized world are being eroded away by this Government and its pettiness here in South Africa. You could not have a better example of that pettiness than the one we have just had from the Prime Minister.
I believe that in this election a greater role is going to be played not just by our traditional supporters and those many Government supporters who have at last identified the true causes of the erosion and deterioration of South Africa’s internal and international security, but also by the young people in the electorate, many of them voting for the first time, who are seeking wider perspectives. When we ask ourselves what their desire is, what the ideals are for which they strive and what their vision is for the future, I think one has to pose oneself a few questions. Do they seek confrontation or co-operation in South Africa? Do they seek the fragmentation of South Africa into weak units or a federation of South Africa in order to achieve greater strength and a common loyalty to one State? I want to say for myself that I have confidence in the courage, the faith and the idealism of the young generation who will probably soon take our place. The message of the United Party is a message for them. Policies we will advance are policies which will create firm bases for them so that they will have the freedom and the opportunity to construct their own future. I believe that the time has come to accept the challenge of change. Change is inevitable. We in South Africa have travelled a long way since our country was founded. We have survived many crises and we have changed. The fabric of our society has changed and is changing fast. It is changing more rapidly than ever. In this modern world change takes place more quickly and with more immediate impact than at any other time in the past. I believe that inexorably we are going to undergo further change. We will either guide and control that change or it could overtake us. We in the United Party accept that challenge. We have accepted it in the past and we have won. We accept it again. We believe the public will appreciate that the choices are clear and the issues are great and that their decisions in this election will determine our future for many years to come.
Mr. Speaker, I have listened reasonably well to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, and I want to say that at the start of his speech, in particular, I gained so dismal an image of our future from him that I thought the future must indeed be gloomy, particularly if one is to attach any credence to the predictions he makes here from year to year. But now we have already learned our lesson. These predictions, tautological as they are, are simply not confirmed. When the hon. the Leader makes these predictions annually, he does not learn anything and repeats them the next year. He makes those, who do not know any better, disconsolate. I do not want to follow the hon. the Leader into his labyrinth of factual statements—if not factual statements, at least opinions he expressed here—because he jumped around too much. Quite possibly I could, but there are more important things than what the hon. Leader had to say here. What he had to say is not all that important, because it is not reliable. The public at large proves this. When one looks round one, one does see that things are going well for our people. What hon. member claims that this is not so?
Why then are you holding an early election?
The hon. member for Transkei is a person who barks regularly but his bite is not very serious. I therefore take him up in a humorous fashion. I do not actually want to follow up on the arguments of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, preferring to leave that to the hon. the Minister of Finance because, since he has covered the whole field—I did not have the privilege of listening to him the whole time—the Minister will be in a much better position to reply to the points he raised. I just want to tell him that they always act so paradoxically. If we spend too much, we are doing too little; every time we are just spending, but most of the time we are doing too little. Where must the tax come from? That is a simple question. One surely cannot do both. Besides, as far as the opinions of industrialists, financiers and economists are concerned, I respectfully want to ask: “How do their opinions about South Africa and its conditions not differ from day to day?” I do not want to go into further detail about what the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said. I think it is fitting for me to leave it to the hon. the Minister of Finance to reply to these matters. I just want to say that things are going well for our people, that our people know this and will remember the fact in a month or two.
Why are we then holding an election?
One naturally goes to one’s people every few years. We are, after all, democratic. As far as we are concerned, it is not the story of Solly and Sam of 1953, which we can still remember after 21 years, i.e. “Vote for the right to vote again.” We are now going to vote again without any results in the Opposition’s favour.
Fight for your life!
Mr. Speaker, there is a matter very dear to my heart and to the hearts of every honest South African, i.e. the peaceful coexistence of our people. We must learn, as groups and as individuals, to live in peace side by side. In the past there have been few people who have laid more emphasis on this aspect of human dignity and group respect towards one another than the hon. the Prime Minister has done. When we go to the voters on 24 April, there will be people asking questions, and these questions will centre on a very small group, i.e. the bread and butter group. That is so. Let us acknowledge that no government is perfect. Every government has its problems. Nature also creates many of those problems. The outside world, a technologically developing world, and other aspects also bring problems. They will ask questions because we are here in an exceptional political position. We have a lot of races grouped together and we must work out a future for our children. When we, in this hon. House, put our policy to the voters of South Africa, I feel that we as political parties should be consistent and sincere. The people at large who do not have a vote here listen to us. We must not distort the relationships policy in respect of the various national groups with bitterness and misrepresentations.
Now I must regretfully come back to a matter which the hon. member for Zululand raised during the no-confidence debate, i.e. the question of the future of the Coloureds. Subsequently that matter was harped upon repeatedly; there was just the odd bite or two taken. During the Second Reading of the Part Appropriation Bill the hon. member for Zululand again raised this theme. In a kind of, one may almost say, euphoric delusion of righteousness this hon. member condemned the National Party policy in unbridled language as being oppressive. This amounts to an accusation that we are going to oppress these people for ever. I am speaking of the Coloureds, and hon. members may add the Indians if they wish. He said—
The Prime Minister said so.
I am glad the hon. member says that the hon. the Prime Minister said that. What was uppermost in the thoughts of the Prime Minister, and which everyone knows, is that there will be no Coloureds sitting in this Parliament. Is that not also the policy of that side? In any case, in unbridled language our policy was condemned as “eternal oppression”. That, I say, is a gross misrepresentation of the policy of this Government, which has been in power for 26 years already, and we have proof that we have not implemented our policy in these terms in the past. By these means we have given credence to the fact that we can be expected not to do this in the future either. Lacking a more fitting and permissible English word, I will simply say it is a gross misrepresentation, and I reject it with the contempt it deserves.
Hon. members speak of the Press. The National Party controls no Press. Some newspapers are partly controlled, but not by the party. Some of our directors are on the boards of some of the newspapers. But our Press men, our journalists, are of a high standard, just like those of the Sunday Times, which says what it wants to. Let hon. members now disagree with me! They say what they want to. In the Press there was a challenge to the hon. member for Zululand. I read it this morning, I would like to see him accept that challenge. Then we can get to the bottom of this matter in our arguments, stripped of legal slickness. To say something like this, as he did, to a government, which will be in power again after 24 April, is a distortion of relationships between the Government and the Whites on the one hand and the Coloureds on the other hand, and the tragedy of that is the fact that it is untrue. That simply is not the case; there are no grounds for it.
The word game with the hon. the Prime Minister about sovereignty, about the place of the Coloureds in our population approach, emanates of course from the difference between the position of the group as such and the set-up as we see it, and their position within the set-up as the United Party sees it. It is not a concept that emanates from contemplation of the distant future which is still shrouded in something of a haze as far as everyone is concerned. In our case it relates to a more specific course that has already been embarked upon, while in the Opposition’s case it is more a question of promises.
Schalk, that is a pretty tie you have on.
Yes, thank you. I have many pretty things, and the hon. member is still going to hear a pretty thing or two. This word game in connection with sovereignty arises from our relationships with each other. The difference exists between the National Party’s view of the Coloureds as a population group and those of the United Party, as they now assist on paper, and not in respect of a hazy future about which no one can rightly express an opinion. The Prime Minister repeatedly said that we cannot determine the future. Do not come along now with words to twist this, to change it—excuse me, Mr. Speaker—to represent it in other terms. We have had proof, on repeated occasions, of what he said. [Interjections.] You can just forget this word game in connection with sovereignty. With you the Coloureds are in a kind of unreal Parliament, a federal Parliament, for all population groups, ruling over all together. The eventual transfer of significant sovereign powers will rest with the White voters by way of a referendum. There is the big condition for their sovereignty. Whites must then decide. And after they have decided, who decides then? Some of the significant powers have then not even been transferred yet, but then Parliament can decide whether it wants to dissolve or not. Than Parliament can decide. Did your Leader himself not say—
How is the change going to come about according to your policy?
All the answers to any intelligent questions you will hear if you listen to my speech.
You have not said anything yet.
The eventual test for sovereignty cannot be opposed. With that test you will have to return to the White electorate, to the White voters, to ask them for a decision about this. In other words, at this stage you are not being sincere towards the Coloureds; you are still handing out conditions to them.
And under your policy?
Sir, as far as authority over their own people is concerned, there is at present not much difference between our own and the present U.P. policy as it stands on paper. That is what the hon. the Prime Minister said here.
They obtain representation in the federal council?
Sir, we established the C.P.R.C. We have begun with these people.
We have established local authorities and legislative assemblies for them, and you are copying that now. Now you say you will make a better job of that. Very well, then. We must probably accept the promises that if you come into power you will try to improve on this. In any case, we are improving them from day to day. A few years ago this C.P.R.C. was not, however, much good.
Now they want two.
Now they want two; which two I do not know. You say you want to make it more “meaningful”, in the words of the hon. Senator Horak, on 24 August 1972 as far as I can remember. You want to make it more noble, more “meaningful”.
I now ask: Are there any Coloureds or Whites who have ever been left with any illusions about the fact that as far as White representation in this Parliament is concerned, it will remain White representation and Coloureds will not be allowed? Were there ever such allusions? Why come and argue with the hon. the Prime Minister about that now? There have never been any illusions in this connection. And today this is also your policy. In other words, there are comparisons, and there is a similarity between the policy you now have on paper and the policy we are already implementing. That is what the hon. the Prime Minister meant when he spoke of sovereignty which they will never have in this Parliament. In this connection the hon. the Prime Minister left no illusions about their being allowed here or otherwise. But he did not exclude sovereignty as far as they are concerned. He did not exclude sovereignty. The hon. member for Zululand wanted to go through the ceiling; he said the hon. the Prime Minster is presumptuous in saying this. He said the hon. the Prime Minister is not credible. Has there ever been any doubt, amongst hon. members on that side, about our rejection of an overlapping Parliament?
May I put a question to you?
No, I first want to finish speaking. The hon. member will get answers to all his questions if they are intelligent questions.
It is an intelligent question.
The Press is here, Myburgh. You must not speak.
Sir, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, and his lieutenants who join in, still have “the sound of two voices”—in this debate too—as the Rand Daily Mail wrote two years ago. At the end of the no-confidence debate the hon. the Leader of the Opposition said—
In other words, that the White Parliament could finally transfer its powers and disappear. But just before saying that the White Parliament can decide this, particularly if it is a parliament with the “right kind” of people, he says (translation)—
Sir, is this not a matter of two stories again? Does capitulation now eventually lie with Parliament, or with the voters? Sir, I want to tell you that the voters will never capitulate. As far as Parliament is concerned, there is the possibility of capitulation, particularly if the purposes of the Black man dominate. Sir, you surely know that the White voters would never do this; that is why the transfer of powers is the prerogative of the Whites, and this is ostentatious make-believe in respect of the Coloureds. The hon. member says in respect of the Coloureds—
But in saying this, he is not speaking at all of the White referendum that must be held in the meantime. Sir, is that not also make-believe? He conveniently forgets to say that a Parliament is sovereign. A Parliament is not bound to any election promise. I have read this somewhere, but I also know it politically. Parliament is bound to no promise, and tomorrow or the next day it can decide upon anything it wants to, depending on who is setting the pace in these benches. Sir, I notice that the hon. member for Maitland is sitting there listening attentively.
Yes, I am listening.
Sir, it is not necessary for the National Party to have to return to the voters repeatedly for a decision. We do not have to return to the White voters each time to ask them what we should do with the Coloureds. We have virtually been doing this for the past 25 years. We have already obtained mandates from the electorate six times, and we are going to obtain a mandate for the seventh time on 24 April. We do not have to promise the people mandates or referendums. The Coloureds know where they stand as far as we are concerned; that is the most important point. For the past 25 years people have known where they stand as far as we are concerned. This is the process of gradual progress; it is a process of increasing co-operation. It is an orderly evolution from a position of lagging behind economically and politically, and the doors to their own dispensation stand open. What did the hon. the Prime Minister say when he spoke about this at the time? He said one should respect the Coloureds views and one should not try to make political capital across the floor of the House by means of word games.
He said: “The sky is the limit.”
The Prime Minister said in 1971 (Hansard, col. 5115)—
According to an Act of this Parliament, the representative Coloured opinion is the Coloured Persons Representative Council, cut and dried. It has been settled with them. They came along with the recommendation and it was accepted. I believe it will work very well in practice. Sir, I can assure you that it works well. Today again I have held discussions with these people for half an hour. We have now reduced all our discussions of one hour to half an hour and our discussions of two hours to one hour, because we understand one another better; we are like friends who believe in one another’s motives, and then we do not need to keep questioning one another. The Prime Minister says here—
I am very sorry I cannot fully report to the Opposition on the extent of our progress. Even if there were great turmoil in the Coloured community, discussions and dialogue would have enabled us to solve the problem, allowing our hearts to ease so that we could start getting co-operation. Sir, we do not promise these people a so-called division of power in a body in which the Coloureds will nevertheless eventually be subject to a Black majority too. You know this, surely. We do not promise these people referendums. I have already told you that we have had six referendums. On 24 April we are having another. We promise—and this is the only promise we can make, because it is a product of our past, our experience, what we have already done—that the road ahead lies open for those people. And behind us it has never been closed. Do not think that the false apartheid of earlier years, before the National Party came into power, was an open road for them. It was a road everywhere filled with stumbling blocks, from morning till night, and I would have liked to have seen the frustration after so many years if we had let things slide. We established the Coloured Persons Representative Council after the Union Coloured Council. We gave these people the portfolios of Welfare and Education and Rural Areas and we gave them local authorities. We extended their powers to local authorities and agriculture last year, and now they are also going to adopt pension laws. If they were to come tomorrow and say they want tax-levying authority, we must work out amongst one another to what extent they can obtain tax-levying authority so that they do not take too much out of the pockets of those who cannot pay. I am speaking of tax-levying authority over their own people. I am saying that that is what we are prepared to discuss with them. So there is the continually progressive take-over of tasks that were previously done for them. It is now being done with them. It is no longer being done for them; it is being done with them. I cannot now go into the process of development of the past six or seven years. That is not at issue because we are dealing with principles. That is why these people are on the way to a form of final authority over their people. Sovereignty has become a relative concept today. Mention to me a single country in the world where sovereignty and its implementation are a totality. One has the sovereignty to make final decisions, but mention to me one country in the world where sovereignty is a totality and where one can decide whatever one wants to without considering any other country or people. Mention one.
Well, it is very difficult to still find such ignorance at this stage. I really thought there was more understanding amongst the Opposition than that. Even South Africa does not make decisions by virtue of its sovereignty without taking into consideration what is happening outside and inside the country. [Interjections.] Sir, sovereignty has a relative meaning, and apart from the dialectic gymnastics of the hon. member for Zululand, who is a lawyer, I just want to tell him it remains a relative concept, and we in this country will come up against it, and our Prime Minister has already said as much from time to time. The Whites will obtain that sovereignty. They claim it in this Parliament. The Coloureds are also a part of sovereignty, but it is a sovereignty that can be exercised everywhere in South Africa. That is the confusion of concepts that exists.
Will they ever have a Parliament like ours?
The Whites claim for themselves the right to decide about their own people. I repeat what I have frequently said, and I am sorry if the hon. members cannot understand this. I could of course explain it to you, but I cannot make you understand it.
Will they be independent?
Whether this is going to rest on orthodox or unorthodox political ideas, in the years to come we shall have to work this out because we are engaged in the experiment in which human groups are involved. Throughout the years it has been proved that we are slowly progressing in the right direction, because the alternative leads to friction and violence. We have the wonderful democracy of America, but how safe does one feel when travelling there? I am just asking. The attack on us claims that we oppress. We supposedly oppress the people and exercise “baasskap”. It is also said that we evidence a lack of credibility. Under these circumstances is it not perhaps a good thing for us to take a quick backward glance at what the United Party did? After all, they are now appealing to the electorate. We must remember that we are dealing with the Coloureds. The Coloureds are out there, but they are people with whom I am trying to co-operate from day to day because they are with us in this country. They will co-operate with us and we shall live side by side. We shall respect each other as groups, and eventually the human dignity, in terms of which mistakes are still being made at this stage—I acknowledge this—will also straighten itself out. The fear of the disappearance of groups, their extinction, is greater than hon. members can ever realize, because none of the hon. members bears national trends of thought in mind, and they do not realize how national thinking throughout the world has come to the fore. Just look at the U.N. A small state with only 100 000 inhabitants, Grenada, wants to become independent. I am not even mentioning Pitcairn Island and all the others. Let us take a brief look at the record of the United Party as it relates to these people. What was the United Party’s view as recently as 1960? The Coloured’s memories are not all that short.
What was your policy?
Our policy throughout has been that they will not sit in this Parliament. That is what it is all about.
What about the second-class members of the House of Assembly?
We are not speaking about the period prior to 1930. After that a United Party Government came along. At the moment the United Party has two or three leaders and we do not know which of them is being followed. I do not actually know who the Opposition is but they still remain in Opposition and I have to acknowledge them as such. What did the United Party say in 1960—
Hon. members probably still remember this. Let us go on. A year or so later the United Party speaks of a “common voters’ roll and the right to be elected in Parliament”. South Africa will be ruled by a sovereign Central Parliament. In 1963 they said—
The Cape Coloureds will be recognized as Westernized people. Initially they completely forgot about the Coloureds in the Transvaal and the Free State, but later they did say something about the Transvaal too—
Mr. Speaker, when the hon. the Minister of Coloured Affairs entered the debate this afternoon I thought that he would give us some indication of what financial relief could be afforded to the Coloured community. Seeing that this is an appropriation debate, one would have anticipated that the hon. Minister responsible for the welfare of the Coloured people would have been able to offer the Coloured people a little more alleviation from their poverty. When the hon. the Minister of Finance moved the Second Reading of this Bill he announced certain concessions which were to be made to various persons, particularly to those in the lower income groups. Amongst these people he included social pensioners of all races. However, I should like to mention the fact that the hon. the Minister indicated that the basis of granting such increases would be on the existing ratio of 4:2:2: 1. This means that the Coloured community, for instance, will only receive half the increase that is to be granted to the White social pensioners. I hope that the hon. the Minister of Coloured Affairs will make strong representations to the hon. the Minister of Finance to consider whether this formula should not be overhauled to provide for a more realistic ratio. We know that the Representative Council of the Coloured people has made representations from time to time to the Central Government to narrow the gap in social pensions paid to the White social pensioner and the Coloured social pensioner. To my knowledge these requests to the Government have not yet received sympathetic consideration. Indeed, as the position exists today, they are widening rather than narrowing the gap. If we look at the figures prior to 1 May 1974, we see that the maximum pension a White social pensioner can receive is R47 per month, whereas the Coloured social pensioners receive R23-50. This means that there is a difference of R23-50 at the present moment. From 1 May the White social pensioner’s pension will be increased to R52 per month whilst, on the basis of this ratio, the Coloured social pensioner will receive R26 per month. In other words, the difference between the pension of the White social pensioner and the Coloured social pensioner will be R26 per month after 1 May 1974, as against the present difference of R23-50. The Department of Social Welfare and Pensions of the Coloured people’s own Department of Coloured Affairs is extremely restricted in affording alleviation to Coloureds due to financial stringencies.
I hope that the hon. the Minister of Finance will also take into account the position of the Bantu social pensioners who are adversely affected by the perpetuation of this unrealistic ratio. From time to time we have heard from the Government the need for narrowing the wage gap. In this case it is within the power of the Government to assist these people by narrowing the pension gap. Surely in times of disputes, such as those which have occurred amongst the non-White workers, this is an opportunity for the Government to give a lead in this regard.
In the few minutes that are still available for this debate, I should like to bring to the attention of the hon. the Minister of Finance the fact that the policy of his Government is one of encouraging private pension schemes, whereas the policy of this side of the House advocates a national contributory pension scheme. The hon. the Minister of Finance has been sitting for a period of eight years on the report of the committee of inquiry into pension fund matters which was under the chairmanship of Mr. H. J. F. Cilliers.
Business interrupted in accordance with Standing Order No. 85.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.05 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, as I did this afternoon, I also want to take the opportunity tonight, before replying to the supposed attacks by the other side of the House, to make an announcement which I hope will gladden the hearts of members on both sides of the House. Perhaps most hon. members have already taken cognizance of these events, but for those who are unaware of them I just want to announce that at 1510 hours this afternoon the free market price of gold rose to 154-156 dollars in Zurich. Later on the price dropped again to 153-155 dollars but at the same time the price in Paris stood at 163 dollars 22 cents. I mention this because hon. members opposite, and here I am thinking in particular of the hon. member for Constantia and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, will of course say again that this side of the House is simply lucky. I want to tell them that this probably is part of the luck falling to the share of this side of the House. However, I believe in the saying, which all of them have probably heard very often, namely that the gods help those that help themselves.
I think that it was strange and very significant that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, who is not here at present, stood up this evening to round off the Budget debate of the past few days. I think the Leader of the Opposition felt the showing by his lieutenants in the three days of the Budget debate was so tragic that he was forced to intervene towards the end to save what could be saved from the ruins. Hon. members will remember that in past years the Opposition always made use of the hon. member for Yeoville by calling him in at the end of a debate as soon as they were in trouble and wanted to get themselves out of it. Perhaps because the hon. the Leader of the Opposition does not yet have the necessary confidence in the person on his right, he felt obliged to step in this evening towards the end of the debate to rally the dissipated powers and shattered forces of his party. Perhaps the hon. the Leader of the Opposition also wanted to take this opportunity to try and clear up the obscurities in his policy, which neither we nor anyone else nor his own party is able to understand. I think I can tell my friend that it was quite unnecessary for him to have spoken at this late hour and at the end of this debate. I think the hon. members here will agree with me that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition contributed absolutely nothing new to this debate and that he provided absolutely no clarity on any points of policy. He said nothing here which he had not repeated time and again in previous debates. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition said, in the first place, that South Africa was a fortunate country and that the prosperity of South Africa was due to the fact that we were a country rich in natural resources, in minerals and metals, and that South Africa had grown in the past 25 years, not as a result of the policy of this Government, but because Providence had blessed it with riches. This kind of thing we have been hearing for the past 26 years. We have heard over the past 26 years that the prosperity of South Africa is not due to this Government, but only to the subterranean wealth and the nature of our country. I want to tell the hon. members that there are many rich countries in the world. There are many countries in Africa and in Asia which are richly endowed with natural resources and raw materials, but they are countries which never get past the primitive stage of development because they lack the leadership, the guidance and the enterprising spirit of a good government. This country with all its natural wealth would never have made such progress over the past 26 years if it had not had an enterprising, purposeful and deliberately pro-South African Government. While the party of the hon. members opposite had been in power for a long time until 26 years ago, surely the treasures of the earth, the subterranean wealth of South Africa and the natural resources were present, too? Why then did the prosperity which prevails at present, not prevail in the time of the previous Government, when the party sitting here before me was in power? [Interjections.] I think, Mr. Speaker, you will see that I have now touched on a very sensitive area and that the hon. members do not feel happy about it. When we talk about the prosperity of South Africa, they do not attribute it to the Government but to nature. However, when we had difficult years, such as we had during the past four or five years when prolonged droughts afflicted large parts of the country, they did not attribute that to nature; then they blamed the Government. They cannot have it both ways. The logic of the hon. members opposite is something which is not always easy to understand.
The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, like other hon. members opposite, and this includes the hon. member for Parktown, came back once again to the question of inflation. The hon. member came up with the wonderful piece of wisdom that it was once again the poor administration of this Government which was the cause of inflation prevailing here. Is the hon. member not aware that there are much bigger and stronger countries in the world today in which a state of inflation is prevailing too often a state of much higher inflation than there is in South Africa? Does the hon. member therefore want to tell me that the inflationary conditions in all those countries are attributable to a poor government without a policy and without prospects? I think the hon. member is a responsible member. After all, he is the Leader of the Opposition, and it is not fitting for him as Leader of the Opposition to make such simplistic statements without appreciating the consequences and without furnishing proof of his statements. I shall point out to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition what he has said here. An hon. member said things here in respect of which he had furnished no proof but had only made statements. The hon. the Leader referred, in the first place, to the Reserve Bank. I want to ask him and some of his people in all courtesy to refrain from discussing things here in the House, in public, which are very difficult to understand. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition said here that the Reserve Bank was making less money available in our country. Why does the hon. Leader say this? On what proof does the hon. the Leader base this statement of his? He must not shake his head now. I am only putting a question to him. He made the statement here that the Reserve Bank was reducing the amount of money in the country.
The hon. member did say that. I am now asking him on what grounds he made that statement.
I did not say that…
I am sorry I do not have his Hansard here now. However, I did write it down. The hon. the Leader said that it was an inconsistency that the Treasury should be pumping money into the country while the Reserve Bank was reducing the amount of money in the country. Now I ask him on what grounds he said that. During the past year, from January 1973 to January 1974, the Reserve Bank, by means of discounts and investments and in other ways, made available to the banks the unprecedented amount of R551 million, the biggest amount ever in the history of the country. It is an increase of 150% in comparison with the previous year, and here we find the Leader of the Opposition who occupies a responsible position, saying that the Reserve Bank is reducing the amount of money in the country. However, the figure is there to be seen and read. At the same time my hon. friend said, “It must be a nightmare to be a banker today.” Does the hon. member agree that he did say something of that nature?
I beg your pardon?
He said, “It must be a nightmare to be a banker today.” Why did the hon. member say that? Did he say it because each and every bank made such wonderful profits over the past year? I think there have been few years in which things have gone as well as was the case in the year just ended, and in the years which the banks are entering now, i.e. seen from the point of view of profits. Because the hon. member had read it somewhere, he came and repeated here that it had to be a might mare to be a banker in South Africa today. Did the hon. member read this in reports in the newspapers?
Yes, he did read it in reports in the newspapers. I have already said this, and I want to repeat it here: If the banks in South Africa are really experiencing such terribly hard times, if what the hon. member maintains is true, namely that the Reserve Bank is withdrawing money—and this is not true—why have the banks increased their overdrafts and loans, their credit creation, by almost 40% during the past year?
What is the position now?
It is very easy for me to tell the hon. member what the position is now. I am telling the hon. member that there has been a lack of liquidity in recent months. [Interjections.] Sir, if I give someone an amount of money which is meant to last for a month, and he spends all that money on the first day of the month, it is his fault if he has to manage without it for the next 30 days. Certain concessions were granted to the banks, and they extended their credit by almost R1 600 million, which is more than twice as much as has ever happened at any time in the history of banking in our country. Why did they not set about matters a little more slowly by spreading the credit available to them more evenly over the period? But what is the position now? Yes, Sir, there is some illiquidity, and that illiquidity can in part be traced back to the overdrafts, credit and loans granted by the banks and to the money which was allowed to go abroad and cause South Africa’s balance of payments to be unfavourable. After all, the hon. member knows this as well as I do. In any event, he ought to know it. He can ask the hon. member for Parktown. At the moment we have an adverse balance on our capital account, and a major part of that adverse balance is attributable to the fact that excessive credit is being created here in South Africa. Instead of financing with foreign money, financing is being done with South African money, speculation against the rand is allowed, and a great deal of that money is allowed to flee to countries abroad. That is one of the reasons. Another reason for the illiquidity is that the State recently drained away a great deal of money from the public by means of taxes. But next month things will begin to change.
After the election!
Oh, please, the election is only on 24 April.
You have the shivers, man!
As from next month things will begin to improve because, in the first place, the State is going to start paying back more money to the public than it will be drawing. That is the normal procedure of repayment out of its funds and the creation of increased liquidity in that there will be a greater movement of funds from the State to the public. The funds will be augmented as well, because on 1 March, as was decided and announced, the State will pay back R105 million in respect of loan levies.
That is the taxpayers’ own money.
Sir, when hon. members start advancing such arguments, you can understand that they have in fact no arguments. It is their own money, but the State was not obliged to repay that money now. We could have kept it longer. However, we are now paying it out earlier. Last year we did the same. R105 million will come from the State to strengthen the liquid position of the banking industry. Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition feels very guilty about the speech he made here this afternoon. He cannot refute one of the arguments I have advanced here. I wish you could give him the time, after I have finished talking, to try to refute my arguments. The liquidity will also be supplemented in that in the coming months the Land Bank will have to finance the large crops we have.
All the excuses will not help you much.
These are not excuses; these are explanations. Because the Land Bank will finance the large crops in the coming months, an amount of approximately R500 million will in that way be returned to the liquid stream of funds in the country. These are things which will happen in the future, and that is my reply to his question. I want to ask the hon. member what is untrue in what I have said. What is wrong with what I have just said?
The hon. member for Parktown referred here to the restrictions on foreign banks. He had a long story to tell about this, which he, too, had of course read about in the newspapers. I announced that banks with more than 50% in foreign shareholding would be allowed a period of ten years to reduce their shareholdings to 50% after consultation with us, and that we were considering bringing this down to 10% after that period of ten years. But at the same time I indicated that the banks could feel free to discuss these same points with us at any time. And, Sir, I did have discussions with every bank which really was concerned and took an interest in this matter. I discussed the matter with all of them and we received memoranda from all of them. We subsequently decided to stick to the 50% for the ten years, and I announced in public that we would not insist on the reduction to 10%.
In other words, you were wrong.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Parktown and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition want to imply that we have dealt banking in South Africa a very heavy blow. I want to tell the hon. the Leader that foreign banks are falling over each other in their attempts to acquire a 10% interest in South African banks. Hardly a week or a month goes by without some foreign bank or other, whether from Europe or North America, coming to us and asking us for the right to buy a 10% share in some South African bank or other. We find it very difficult to comply with those requests, because the number of requests has increased to such an extent that it is impossible to give effect to all of them. That is why we are now working on new plans to find ways and means to accommodate as many of the foreign banks as possible in South Africa without our South African banks losing control over our banking industry.
The hon. member for Parktown asked another question. The hon. member for Parktown is an intelligent person. I do not think he stopped to think before asking that question. He asked me what the position would have been if the oil companies had had a 10% foreign shareholding today. But, Sir, that is not to the point. Have we not said here very clearly that this provision, as is the case in the many other countries, only concerns banks and that it does not concern industries or other institutions? I ask the hon. member for Park-town and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition whether they can tell me where on earth I personally, the Deputy Minister or any other member of the Cabinet has ever indicated that we required that 10% qualification from institutions other than banks? [Interjections.] The day after my statement last year my hon. Deputy made a speech in this House in which he explained the whole position and said that this did not concern any other capital institutions. He made a good speech, but it was not reported in the newspapers.
Sir, I do not know why hon. members say “Oh!” It does not sound very nice; it is not at all melodious, nor does it become this debate. This Government has always, as I am now repeating for the umpteenth time, told the outside world that we welcome foreign capital here. We send missions abroad to obtain capital; we ask foreigners to join us in establishing industries and other undertakings here, to do so in partnership with us, and never yet in any instance have we as the State set the condition that South Africans should have a 90% shareholding in those companies. I want to ask hon. members on that side, if they really are patriots, to convey the assurance I am giving here to the general public as well, viz. that what was announced here, was announced in respect of banks and in respect of banks alone, because banks with a small capital of 6% can control 94% of the deposits of the public. Banks are in a position totally different from that of ordinary companies. I do not expect these stories to be conveyed to the outside world by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. member for Parktown. They are intelligent people. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition said in this debate that the Government was spreading its wings more and more widely. The hon. member for Parktown said something similar and added that there was a growing socialism here, something the hon. member for Gardens was warned against the other day.
Dr. Albert Hertzog said so, too.
I read that. Sir, in these last minutes of the debate hon. members must tell me what they want. We are always told here that South Africa is a country in which we should encourage private enterprise and have a free economy I am also in favour of that; I am not a socialist. We are always told by certain leaders in the spheres of commerce and industry and by certain professors and theorists that the less State interference there is, the better, and yet, Mr. Speaker, if the slightest thing goes wrong with those industries, or if the slightest thing goes wrong with the country, then those people and this Opposition are first to blame the Government for not having intervened in good time and more forcefully; then they come along with the kind of accusation which the hon. the Leader of the Opposition made in another context when he described Government action as “too little and too late”. I think that the Opposition should tell the public at large whether they want a state in which the Government controls the economy in terms of a fixed plan, as my hon. friend over there called it, or whether they want us to allow the free economy to remain and to prevail; but then the free economy should also have the courage and sense of responsibility to take the blame when it is so to blame.
Sir, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition spoke here about the tremendous increase in State investment as against private investment. Where did he get his figures? Why did he not give us figures in order to prove it? The official figures indicate a different position. The official figures show that in the year 1971, private investment increased by 12% and total investment by 13%. In the year 1972—I concede that this was a very slack year—private investment dropped and total investment increased by 12%. Now I want to ask hon. members on that side: When private investment does not meet the requirements of the times, are they opposed to the authorities stopping in and making the necessary investments so as to keep the economy going? In 1973 private investment rose again by 12%, and so did total investment. That shows you, Sir, that private investment and Government investment march together, with the exception of that one single year; and then the hon. member wants to imply here that the Government is controlling the economy of the country to an increasing extent. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition asks me, “What about the returns? Look at the returns of Iscor and other State corporations”. Sir. Iscor was not established with the aim of yielding profits for the State. Iscor was not established as a capitalistic profit-making concern. Iscor was established to provide the industries of South Africa with steel as cheaply as possible, and now the hon. member comes along and asks me what Iscor’s profits are. Sir, I now want to ask hon. members on that side: Where would South Africa have been today without an Iscor? Where would South Africa have been today without a Sasol? Where would South Africa have been today without a Foscor? I am mentioning here a few of the enterprises, the establishment of which was opposed by hon. members opposite, and now they must admit that, under the wing of the State, those enterprises have now become some of the greatest assets to the economy of South Africa.
The hon. the Leader of the Opposition referred to the tremendous number of Whites in the service of the State or of semi-State institutions. That may be true.
It is true.
Let us assume that it is true that 30% of the economically active White population are in the service of the State or in the service of semi-State institutions.
Forty per cent.
No, thirty per cent.
Including the Post Office.
In the service of the State, the Post Office, the Railways, the provinces, local governments…
And State corporations.
Thirty per cent, as far as we can estimate, of the productive section of the White population are in the service of the State and semi-State institutions down to divisional councils.
Of the White population.
Yes, of the White population. I am now coming to the point which the hon. member omitted to mention. The 30% do not only govern the four million Whites; they govern a country with a population of 23 million people. It is true that as the non-White homelands become independent, more and more of them are being involved in their own public service, but this is a fairly small number, but a large part of the public service is still intimately concerned, not only with the government of the Whites, but also with the government of the Coloured people in South Africa.
May I put a question?
No, I am sorry my time is too short. Sir, hon. members on that side are particularly concerned about the possibility that South Africa will not be able to maintain its growth potential. I want to mention to the hon. member the fact that from 1960 to 1965 the average growth rate in South Africa was 6,1%. Our target had been a growth rate of 5½%. For the five year period up to 1967 the average growth was 6,7%; up to 1969 the average growth was 6,6%. In the years 1970, 1971 and 1972, there was, for obvious reasons, a drop in South Africa’s growth rate. Our calculation is that if we want to maintain the 5½% target rate, we shall have to have a growth rate of just over 6% per annum over the next four years. As things are at present, the indications are that in spite of the prophets of doom, we may be able to achieve a growth rate of more than 6% this year. Sir, let me just compare South Africa’s position with that of other countries. I want to quote what I found in the International Herald Tribune concerning America. There the Commerce Department said that they had initially expected a high growth rate but that they had now seen that the growth rate in America was going to drop this year to approximately 1%, and no less a person than the Minister of Economic Affairs in West Germany stated in an interview in Bonn the other day that they had hoped to maintain a growth rate of 3% this year, but now that they had had another look at the position, they had come to the realization that their growth rate would be something “between zero and 2% at the most”.
Are we as developed as Germany?
A developed country such as Germany and a developed country such as America expect growth rates of 0% to 1%, while the expectations in South Africa are far more optimistic.
But what is their population growth?
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Third Time.
Bill read a First Time.
Report Stage taken without debate.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
Mr. Speaker, the Bill now before this House, provides for a number of unrelated amendments to various Acts and also contains a few substantive provisions. None of the clauses of the Bill is, to my mind, of a contentious nature. In the first eight clauses of the Bill, provision is made for the amendment of the Acts establishing the Law Society of the Transvaal, the Law Society of Natal, and the Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope. Hon. members will notice that these clauses have not been formulated in both official languages. The reason is, of course, that we are dealing here with pre-Union Acts which are not available in both official languages. In the case of the Acts of the Law Society of the Transvaal and of the Law Society of Natal, only the English versions are available, and in the case of the Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope, only the English and the Dutch versions are available. Hon. members may also recall that a few years ago this House came out against amending Acts which were not formulated in both official languages. For a considerable time now attempts have been made to consolidate the Acts of the various Law Societies into one Act, which would at the same time be bilingual. Because of a lack of uniformity it has not yet been possible to come forward with such an Act. However, consultations have been held with the law societies and the major obstacles have now been removed. Because the law societies concerned have an urgent need for the amendments for which provision is being made in these clauses, approval has been given, despite the language requirement, to bring them before this hon. House, on the understanding that the re-enactment of the Acts concerned in both official languages shall be proceeded with without delay. The law societies agreed to this.
Mr. Speaker, the contents of these clauses deal with the enlargement of the number of members of the council in the case of the Law Society of the Transvaal and the Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope, and a change in the structure of the council in the case of the Law Society of Natal.
The remaining clauses of the Bill deal with matters divergent in nature. In most cases the purpose is perfectly evident from the clause concerned. The majority of the amendments are necessitated by problems being experienced in the application of the legal provisions concerned. For instance, in clause 14 provision is being made for the amendment of the Inquests Act, 1959. The problem being experienced is that no magistrate has jurisdiction to hold an inquest in respect of a death which has occurred on board a ship, unless he has been specially designated to hold the inquest. In the case of a death which has occurred on board an aircraft in flight, it is also uncertain which magistrate has jurisdiction. The obvious solution is to have the magistrate of the district where this body has been brought ashore or has been removed from the aircraft, hold the inquest without its being necessary to designate him specially for the purpose.
In respect of clause 15 I just want to explain that last year the General Council of the Bar of South Africa introduced a scheme of practical training for prospective advocates. This scheme has the effect of a candidate having to undergo practical training for a period of four to six months. During this period he may accept no briefs. Now, it is so that a person who is practising as an attorney or who is associated with an attorney’s practice, may not be admitted as an advocate before the expiry of a period of six months during which time he dissociated himself completely from the attorney’s profession. The same goes for advocates who wish to become attorneys. The period of six months, together with the period of practical training, has the effect that the attorney who wishes to become an advocate, may be without income for 10 months to a year. For this reason the General Council of the Bar seeks the amendment for which provision is being made in clause 16. The attorney’s profession has no objection to this. In the case of an advocate who wishes to change over to the attorney’s profession, the period of six months will still apply.
Sir, I do not think that the remaining clauses of this Bill need explaining at this stage.
This is the first occasion on which the hon. the Deputy Minister has appeared in his capacity as Deputy Minister of Justice and we want to wish him well in the short time that he will occupy it! This measure is unopposed, but we cannot promise the same co-operation in respect of the next Order of the Day.
Like most General Laws Amendment Bills this Bill, as the hon. the Deputy Minister has said, is really a Committee Stage Bill. There is no single principle in it that we can really discuss at this stage. The Deputy Minister, I think, has covered all the points which arise from the Bill. On the Order Paper, which we can take as being part of the principle of the Bill, notice has been given that clauses 18 and 19 are to be removed, both dealing with the Soil Conservation Act. It does seem incredible that this can happen, that in this General Laws Amendment Bill there are two provisions dealing with amendments to the Soil Conservation Act when they appear at the same time in another Bill which has been before this House, viz. the Soil Conservation Amendment Bill.
The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
That is so. Clause 9 will be discussed in the Committee Stage. I give the hon. the Deputy Minister notice of this now. The hon. member for Green Point will deal with it. This is the question of another State preference on insolvency, a preference over and above even wages which are due in respect of the insolvent estate. Apart from that there are no other matters which need to be dealt with at this stage, but in the Committee Stage we will discuss whatever matters arise. We support the Bill at this stage.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
In recent years problems in regard to the Riotous Assemblies Act, 1956, have emerged. For example it has been found that the power of magistrates to prohibit gatherings is too limited. In addition the Act sometimes requires exact compliance with elaborate formalities in emergencies. In this way effective action is impeded and offenders are afforded the opportunity of procuring an acquittal on technical points. In addition the Act only covers public gatherings in defined public places in the open air. Gatherings in other places cannot therefore be prohibited or controlled, regardless of how dangerous a situation they create. The deficiencies in the Act are emerging more prominently as the actions of demonstrators and underminers of State security become more calculated, and the techniques they apply more sophisticated. It has therefore become desirable to streamline the Act. This Bill is an attempt to do so.
Scattered throughout the Bill are a few unimportant amendments. In this way, for example, references to Acts are being brought up to date, the expressions “landdros” in the Afrikaans version, “Republic” and “State President” are being substituted for “magistraat” in the Afrikaans version, “Union” and “Governor-General”, and penalty clauses stipulating the amount of fines are being converted from pounds to rand. I am not going to refer separately to these amendments or to any consequential amendments.
In clause 1 definitions in the existing Act are being deleted, amended and inserted. The effect of these is that not only are public gatherings of 12 or more persons in any public places affected by the Act, but any gathering of any number of persons in any place. The existing requirement that those present should have a common purpose is being retained for those cases where all gatherings are prohibited. This falls away, however, in cases where specific gatherings or gatherings of a particular kind are prohibited. These amendments bring the concept of a gathering into line with the concept attached thereto in the Suppression of Communism Act, 1950. The manner in which gatherings are dealt with under that Act has already proved to be very effective.
The amended definitions necessitate a series of consequential amendments throughout the Riotous Assemblies Act. The expression “gathering”, for example, is everywhere substituted for the expression “public gathering”.
Clause 2 contains a series of important amendments to section 2 of the Act. I shall therefore deal with amendments to each subsection separately.
Subsection 2(1) deals with the power of a magistrate to prohibit gatherings. At present a magistrate may only prohibit a particular gathering. He cannot prohibit all gatherings or gatherings of a particular kind or gatherings at a particular place. He cannot therefore take effective action if he has reason to apprehend that any gathering would seriously endanger the public peace. Nor can he able take action if, for example, he has that apprehension in respect of protest marches in general. But even when he has such apprehension in respect of a particular gathering, he has to identify that gathering in his prohibition. This is sometimes difficult to do, particularly when the magistrate has to take quick action in an emergency. Often such meetings are not publicized in advance. At a gathering of students and others on university campus, for example, it may be decided to march into the city and to gather at a certain place. How is such a gathering now to be identified in a formal prohibition? No one knows at precisely what time and precisely where the gathering is going to take place, who is going to be present there, or who is going to speak. It is simply impossible for a magistrate to identify such a gathering in a formal manner in a prohibition. And even if he were able to do so, the organizers of such a gathering could decide at the last moment to convert it into something else. A protest meeting could become a prayer meeting. A memorial service at 4 o’clock could be converted into a silent protest at half-past.
In order to eliminate these difficulties, a magistrate is being given the power to prohibit all gatherings in his district or any particular gathering or kind of gathering at a particular place or in a particular area. To make it clear that this power is intended only for emergencies, he may, however, do so only for a period not exceeding 48 hours. Because this applies to emergencies the requirement that the magistrate shall obtain prior authorization from the Minister is also being done away with. The magistrate has to take quick action and the need to obtain the prior approval of the Minister could result in a fatal delay. In any case the Minister is, to a large extent dependent on the magistrate’s assessment of the situation, particularly if he has to take a decision at a remote place and with only telephonic information at his disposal.
Subsection 2(2) prescribes how a magistrate’s prohibition shall be made known. Clause 2 amends this subsection in three principal respects. The first is that two means of making the prohibition known are being added to the existing alternatives, viz. by notice in the Gazette and by causing it to be made known by means of the radio. The latter means is somewhat of an innovation, but it appears to be a very useful means of ensuring wide-spread publicity in an emergency. In the second place it has already been contended in a court that at present a magistrate does not have the authority to cause his prohibition to be made known; consequently he would have to do so himself. No court decision on this matter has as yet been taken, but to place the matter beyond any doubt, subsection 2(2) is being amended to provide explicitly that the magistrate may in fact cause his prohibition to be made known. Thirdly subsection 2(2) at present requires publication of a prohibition in “newspapers” if that method of making the prohibition known is utilized. This is now being amended to only one newspaper because in rural areas there is often a local newspaper, but only one, which may be utilized for this purpose.
The old subsection (3)ter is being substituted by the new subsection 2(3). This deals with the power of the Minister to prohibit gatherings. He already has the same power for the entire Republic as is now being granted to magistrates for their districts. The wording of the subsection is merely being amended to adapt it to the wording of subsections 2(1) and (2) and the remainder of the Act, as it is being amended. In addition provision is being made for the publication of the Minister’s prohibition in the same manner as that of a magistrate. At present the prohibition of the Minister has to be published in the Gazette. He will be able to take more rapid action in emergencies if it is possible to make his prohibition known in other ways as well. In this regard cognizance may be taken of the safety-valve which is being inserted in subsection 2(6). It becomes a defence against a charge in regard to a prohibited gathering if the accused had no advance knowledge of the prohibition, unless it was published in the Gazette.
Subsection 2(4) is being substituted for the present subsection 2(3). This deals with the power of the Minister to prohibit gatherings if the engendering of a feeling of hostility between White and other persons is apprehended.
Why such haste?
This is merely being amended to adapt to the amended subsections 2(1), (2) and (3).
Why such haste?
Why does the hon. member say that I should not be so hasty; is he unable to understand Afrikaans? [Interjections.]
Sir, I do not stop that hon. member when he sometimes stands there mumbling. [Interjections.]
In this way the Minister will have the same powers of prohibition and publication in this case as under subsection 2(3). I hope this is clearer now.
Do you understand what you are reading?
I shall show the hon. member that I understand far more about the legislation than he does.
Subsection 2(5) contains only consequential amendments, but subsection 2(6), formerly 2(4), is being amended in a very important respect. The mere attendance of a prohibited gathering is being made a crime. Until now this was not the case, probably so that people who were merely curious or who happened to find themselves at a meeting by chance, were not punishable. But it so happens that people deliberately attend a prohibited gathering simply because they know that it is not an offence. It is infact their attendance which makes the prohibited gathering. Without them there would be nothing. Without them a dangerous situation would never arise and it would not subsequently become necessary for the Police to use violence. If mere attendance of a prohibited gathering is an offence, the vast majority of people who would otherwise have attended such a gathering will probably stay away; possibly to such an extent that the gathering attracts no attention. In addition, it will be possible for the Police, if a prohibited gathering does take place, to arrest the ringleaders and remove them from the scene. Then it may not be necessary at all to create a situation of confrontation by ordering those present to disperse and then to enforce such an order. Those attending innocently will be able to defend themselves by proving that they were unaware of the prohibition; unless, of course, the prohibition was published in the Gazette in which case it is presumed that everyone has knowledge of it.
The last subsection of the proposed section 2 is subsection (7). This is being substituted for the old subsection 2(5) and contains only consequential amendments.
Clauses 3, 4 and 5 contain only consequential and formal amendments which require no explanation.
Clause 6 amends section 6 of the Act. That section deals with the power of a magistrate to cause access to a place to be barred if he has reason to believe that a gathering prohibited by a magistrate is going to take place there. Crime prevention is actually the responsibility of the police. The police are far more conversant with the situation on the spot, and they are called upon to undertake the actual barring. It therefore appears to be logical that the decision to bar a place in order to prevent a prohibited gathering from taking place, should also be the responsibility of the police. In this clause that power is being transferred from the magistrate to a police officer of or above the rank of warrant officer. Until now this power has only applied in respect of gatherings prohibited by a magistrate. It is now being extended to cover gatherings prohibited by the Minister as well. In addition the power to close a place is being extended so that access to an area may also be barred. The necessity for this is to be found in the lessons learned from the gatherings on the Cathedral steps in 1972. The entire area was packed with curious onlookers. They only way, under such circumstances, of preventing a prohibited gathering is to bar access to the entire area by putting up street barricades.
Clause 7 amends section 7 of the Act. The most important amendment here deals with the order which a police officer shall give those present at a gathering before he may use force to disperse the gathering. At present the section requires the police officer to order those present to leave the place of assembly immediately and to inform them that if they have not dispersed within a specified time, force will be used. He has to repeat this order and information three times. In the first place it is difficult to repeat such order and information three times to a moving gathering such as a procession. In addition, no provision is being made for the language which shall be used. Lastly, the threat of force creates a conflict situation which is certainly not conducive to the peaceful defusing of an explosive situation. A part of the crowd feels that it would be cowardly to disperse under such circumstances. An even larger part consisting of curious onlookers first wait to see force being applied, thinking that they will be able to get away in time before they, too, get hurt. In the meantime they obstruct people who do perhaps want to obey the order. This unsatisfactory position will already be obviated to a large extent in that attendance in itself now becomes an offence. The police will be able to take action and arrest the ringleaders without first giving an order or threatening to use force. In addition the clause amends the section in such a way that the police shall merely issue an order to disperse within a specified time once only, but then in each official language.
Clause 8 merely effects consequential amendments.
In Clause 9 the amounts of fines are being converted from pounds to rands and one penalty clause is being raised to R50, or to imprisonment for a period of three months. This penalty clause is already deemed to be such owing to the effect of section 333bis of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1955.
Clause 10 is self-explanatory.
Clause 11 amends section 19 of the Act so that the Minister of Police, instead of the Minister of Justice, shall report to Parliament on the actions taken by officers of the Department of Police.
Clauses 12 and 13 do not require any elucidation.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Deputy Minister, I think, must have read his speech so quickly because he wanted to gloss over the fact that he in fact has just glossed over the Bill. I have never in my life heard an hon. Minister introduce a Bill into this House containing such fundamental changes to one of the most fundamental laws of our country without dealing with those fundamental changes. If one were to listen to the hon. the Deputy Minister one would wonder why anyone had any objection to this Bill. Indeed, if the Bill looked like the hon. the Deputy Minister’s speech sounded and the contents were as he said, one would hesitate to find anything wrong with the Bill. But he did not mention once in his introductory speech the most fundamental change of all, namely that the Riotous Assemblies Act will no longer apply only to public gatherings in public places. That is the fundamental change. The Riotous Assemblies Act, if this Bill is passed, will now not deal with public places and public disorder only, but will go right into the private lives and the private property of anyone. With the powers that go with it, it will go, if necessary, right into the smallest flat in this country.
The hon. gentleman says that is nonsense. But the other thing the hon. the Deputy Minister did not talk about either was another fundamental change, namely the definition of a gathering. It is no longer a gathering in a public place of 12 or more persons, but is now a gathering of two or more persons in public or in private. It is now a gathering of two or more people. If there is a blanket banning, it is now a gathering of two or more people with a common purpose. Why did the hon. the Deputy Minister not mention these fundamental changes? Why not?
It is in the Bill.
The hon. the Chief Whip on that side of the House is now just making the case worse by saying that it is in the Bill. What does he think the hon. the Deputy Minister’s function here is? It is not only his function to explain the Bill, but it is his duty to this House and to the public to be frank about what is in the Bill and what the changes are that are brought about by it. There he sits: he zips through his speech and deals with the Bill clause by clause; but he has not dealt with the principle involved at all. Why does this happen? Why does the hon. the Deputy Minister come to this House and introduce this Bill as a matter of urgency, it would seem, in the dying days of this session, a session which must end by next Wednesday, with a new Parliament assembling in July?
Ask the hon. member for Green Point.
I shall tell you in due course why you should not have introduced this Bill.
The hon. the Deputy Minister will hear from the hon. member for Green Point. Why is this matter so urgent? If one listened to the hon. the Deputy Minister, the only reason why this Bill was in fact being brought at all was that I think he said there had been certain difficulties over the years during which it had been found that people who had been charged, as recently, under the Riotous Assemblies Act, had got off on technical points and that one really had to modernize some of the provisions, but that was all. What is the urgency of this measure, coming now as it does with another Parliament due to meet in any event in July of this year? Is this Government losing its grip more than it has told us? Is there something else which the hon. the Deputy Minister and the Government expect but have not told this House about? Do they expect trouble, which they have not told us about, that cannot be dealt with by normal procedures? What is the reason? Alternatively, is this intended to be just another usual pre-election Nationalist election gimmick? I want to say that the Government must watch itself when it starts playing politics with fundamental Statutes dealing with law and order. It is a well worn tactic. It is a tactic for which this Government is well known but they are playing with fire if they intend doing it with a Bill as fundamental as this one is. The attitude of the hon. the Deputy Minister, in introducing this Bill, seems to indicate that in fact this is just such a case. It seems to indicate that he is going to go to the country and say: “You know, this is really just a Bill to change the Riotous Assemblies Act to deal with public order and the United Party is opposed to that.” In relation to this Bill, the material non-disclosure and non-explanation by the hon. the Deputy Minister leads one to wonder whether this is just an election gimmick or what is behind it. An old tactic such as this is not going to work in an enlightened country. The very Bill itself, the speech of the hon. the Deputy Minister, the indecent haste, the clumsy and blunderbuss provisions of this Bill, are symptomatic of a sick Government, a Government which is paralysed by its past and by its inability to cope with the modern scene. What is it doing if the hon. the Deputy Minister’s introductory speech is to be taken at its face value? They have now taken out their blunderbuss to go into a dark room to shoot a black cat that is not there. That is what it seems like, if one can take the hon. the Deputy Minister’s speech at its face value. We are aware of the very basic changes in this Bill, and we hope that we will be able to apprise the House of this. We hope that some of those hon. gentlemen sitting over there will appreciate how fundamental and important the changes in this Bill are.
Tell us about it. [Interjections.]
The hon. the Deputy Minister will hear about it. I am not going to zip-zip-zip through a speech.
You are wasting your time.
For 60 years we have managed our affairs, so far as public disorder and violence are concerned, with the Riotous Assemblies Act, which we have found to be sufficient. Having regard to the tolerance of our peoples, we have found for 60 years that those provisions were sufficient. They have been sufficient for all our peoples to contain the public disturbance of order and peace. They were accepted by all our peoples, because they regulated order in public places, which were, and are, the places where everyone has the right to be and to move about unmolested. That is why there has been support all round for the exercise of powers under the Riotous Assemblies Act, if (a) there was a disturbance of the peace, and if (b) there was an anticipation that there might be a disturbance.
Is that principle being changed?
That principle has been changed in one fundamental regard, viz. that that power could, should have been, and was exercised where this disorder was in public places. Let us make no mistake about what we are dealing with. We are dealing with what is absolutely fundamental to democracy. I am talking, Sir, about law and order. Law and order is the foundation upon which democracy is built. If you do not have law and order, then you have anarchy. If you do not have law and order, and especially public law and order, not only will you have anarchy, but you will not have an atmosphere in which, or a foundation upon which, you can enjoy civil liberty. That is fundamental. There is then no place for the freedom of the individual. [Interjections.] Steps to maintain law and order, to maintain public peace, have always been supported by the public for that very reason. The reason that it has worked, the reason why any law is right and proper and should be there, is that it has the confidence of the public. But I want to say that this Bill could easily undermine the confidence of the public in the maintenance of law and order, because it has elements of uncertainty for the persons to whom it will apply. If you go back to the original debate on the principal Act, you will find that it took place in 1914. This law has been on our Statute Books in essence, in its present form, almost unaltered, since 1914. If you go back there, Sir, you will read what John X. Merriman had to say at the time.
Times have changed.
Times have changed but principles do not change. Principles of justice remain. What he said there was that there should be an Act like the Riotous Assemblies Act and it should be there otherwise one would have the situation where one would be subject to the arbitrary whim of a Government and to martial law. That is what we shall be reduced to now, Sir; we shall be reduced to that very thing if this is to be applied. We shall be reduced to the very thing that John X. Merriman spoke about and therefore wanted a Riotous Assemblies Act.
As I have said, the essence of this Bill is that the word “public” is being removed. We are now no longer dealing in riotous assemblies with public disturbances, and secondly, the definition of “gathering” has been completely changed. These two factors together result in a piece of legislation that is completely different, both in approach to government and to our traditional way of life, from what the public has accepted and backed for the past 60 years. Indeed, if these amendments are passed, this legislation will no longer have the right to be called the Riotous Assemblies Act.
The effect of the removal of the word “public”—in other words, this applies to any gathering anywhere, private as well—and the changing of the definition of “gathering” to that contained in this Bill, is that the power that all of us in this House agree should be exercised and should exist where necessary, in respect of public disturbances and public places, is suddenly being extended into the private sphere. But the hon. the Deputy Minister did not mention that at all.
He did not know it had happened.
As my hon. leader says, he probably did not even know that it had happened.
It was not in the speech that was written for him.
If the hon. the Deputy Minister’s case was one which I think he might be able to make, that because the definition of “public place” in the Act does not include some private property, and that scenes that took place there could escalate into the public street, such as happened on the steps of St. George’s Cathedral, such as can happen in any open place which is in fact private property, then he would have a case. That is a case that we will be pleased to meet because there is no doubt whatsoever that there are these situations, there are these places which are private property, which are not public places in terms of the definition in the Riotous Assemblies Act, and in regard to which the Riotous Assemblies Act does not apply. It is quite clear that situations have occurred and could occur in the future at those private places which could then escalate into public places and which should, in our opinion, be dealt with before they can escalate into those public places.
Whose side are you on now?
If that were his case, Sir, we would meet him on it, because it is a reasonable case to have. I thought, Sir,…
… that that was the case the hon. the Deputy Minister might produce when I first heard that he would introduce this Bill. He did not even try to make out that case. He just zipped through the Bill, glossing over what it meant. We can all read what it does. That is not what we wanted the hon. the Deputy Minister to tell us. What we are concerned about is its effect and the necessity for it.
This Bill goes much further than that. What the hon. the Deputy Minister has tried to do here is to graft a completely new and different concept on to a tree of a different sort from the graft. I think that the blanket bans contained in this Bill are the best example of this. The blanket bans are those under clauses 2(l)(a) and 2(3)(a) as opposed to specific banning under sections 2(l)(b) and 2(3)(b). Blanket banning is a banning, or let me say, a prohibition of any gathering in any area during any period which the Minister may prescribe.
Yes, but for a specific purpose.
Yes, I shall come to that. Now…
I wish that the hon. member…
Order! The hon. member for Pretoria Central should contain himself.
Mr. Speaker, this blanket ban is now in respect of any gathering. Then one looks at the definition of “gathering”. It means the gathering of more than two people for a purpose, any common purpose, anywhere. It need not be in a public place; it could be in a private home, it could be in a flat, and there are all kinds of common purposes that people have when they get together. If it is felt necessary to do so, then one could have a blanket banning of all meetings. Let me demonstrate this. As the law stands at present this power which exists at the moment is perfectly legitimate because, Sir, that general or blanket banning is in respect of gatherings in public places. This is what the hon. the Deputy Minister seems to have forgotten because he did not mention it. When you try to apply a blanket ban in respect of any gatherings at all, all gatherings, and your gathering is defined as being more than two people together even in their private home, then the matter becomes laughable, it becomes absurd, it becomes almost incapable of application. You cannot apply it to all private places. You are trying to graft the old power on to an entirely new concept and so long as it is no longer public places and includes private places, then one finds this anomaly. Clause 2(4)(b) makes provision for the power as it existed before, that any particular person can be prohibited from attending any such gathering. What happened? At the moment it is fine because those are public gatherings. But what is the effect of this power now? It has exactly the same effect as the power to restrict somebody under the Suppression of Communism Act. It is not in respect of public places; it is in respect of any gathering, as is defined in this Bill, anywhere at all.
Maybe that is what he wants.
I do not know if that is what he wants. I do not think that the hon. the Deputy Minister knows what is in this Bill. I think I must give him credit, because I do not think this is what he wants. I must give him credit for that because I would not like to say that the hon. the Deputy Minister deliberately misled this House.
Now, Sir, let us see what his means. If you were to apply a blanket banning under clause 2(1 )(a) or 3(l)(a), and you said that all gatherings should be banned, especially under the ministerial powers, for a period of time exceeding 48 hours, this will of course include all meetings, public or private, where there are two or more persons who have a common purpose. This would also include private matters having nothing to do with public order or public interest, unless they are excluded.
It is about time you read the Bill.
About time I read the Bill!
Did the hon. Deputy Minister read it before he read his speech?
The hon. the Deputy Minister should not say things like that after the speech he has just made! [Interjections.]
I say to the hon. the Deputy Minister that he should not say things like that after the speech he has just made.
I think he read somebody else’s speech.
I think they are entitled to read their speeches when they introduce Bills. The hon. the Deputy Minister must be frank; why did he not deal with these important changes? Why not?
I dealt with it clause by clause.
The hon. the Deputy Minister dealt with words, but he did not deal with effects. What I want to illustrate to the hon. the Deputy Minister is this: He may well be the person who is going to apply these provisions. If you apply a blanket ban with the definition of “gathering” as it is, then, Sir, you will have to exclude from the banning, from the prohibition, certain of these private matters. How can you exclude every private gathering in a private home or club at which individuals pursue their own private objectives? There are so many, and they could be affected because there is a blanket ban unless they are excluded. If the powers of a blanket ban are used then with the definition of a gathering as it is at the moment and because it now includes private homes, it is almost inevitable that a lot of people are going to be unnecessarily affected by this. If, however, it is “public”, as it is now, there is no problem. I hope the hon. the Deputy Minister will consider this. This is how we see the position, and this is why the public is with the present legislation because it affects the public peace; because it does not and it cannot affect them in their private affairs which are not carried on in public places. When the public peace is affected, it affects the rights of others. [Interjection.] My hon. friend over there, who represents one of the Pretoria constituencies and who is making such a lot of noise says that there must be a common purpose in respect of that gathering for a blanket ban. That is quite right, Sir. One knows the leading case on the subject, that is, the Appeal Court case of Dudley v. the Minister of Justice, in which the Chief Justice said that they must not just have a common object; according to the decision that is not enough; it is also necessary that they should be there—in that case, the classroom—with the intention of receiving instruction and that their minds must be directed to a concerted action deliberately taken. Sir, you do not have to have much imagination to appreciate how many such common purposes there are every day in every home and in every club in the country to appreciate how many people could be affected if in fact this power was used. The conclusion that one comes to is that those blanket powers not only should not be used but cannot be used properly in terms of the new conception which is brought into this Bill and that in fact the powers which you find in clause 2(l)(b) and in clause 2(3)(b) should be quite sufficient for the purpose of applying the Act if it is to be amended in this way, and that is that the Minister may prohibit a specified gathering or any kind of gathering at a specified place or in a specified area or everywhere in the Republic during a period or specified time. Sir, why cannot that be used? That is all you need. You need not prohibit gatherings of a kind. You do not have to prohibit the whole lot. In fact, if you were to use the power to prohibit the whole lot, it would probably lead to a situation which even the hon. the Deputy Minister does not contemplate. Sir, both the magistrate’s power under clause 2(l)(b) and the Minister’s power under clause 2(3)(b) should be confined to a specific kind of meeting.
Which one are you referring to now?
On page 5 of the Bill you will see, Sir, that the magistrate has the power to prohibit any gathering in his district or any particular gathering or a kind of gathering at a particular place. Likewise, under clause 2(3)(b) the Minister has the power to prohibit any gathering or to prohibit a specified gathering or any kind of gathering. That is my point. That is all the power he needs, because otherwise there may arise a situation which he has not contemplated.
I want to stress that this Government and the country could well lose the confidence of the public in the law relating to the maintenance of public peace and order. It would be a very dangerous situation if this were ever to occur. The hon. the Minister should know very well that laws are only tolerated and supported by the people affected by them if in fact they have a fundamental use and purpose and a fundamental justice. You cannot have confidence if you do not know what the law is, in your own home or in your own club, and if you do not know what is going to happen from time to time because the law is so wide that when a blanket provision is applied it may affect you or it may not. If your private affairs can be interfered with by arbitrary decree of a Minister, I can think of nothing which is more likely to undermine the confidence of the public in what is a basic security law in any country. Sir, you have a right to do your own thing, provided you do not affect the rights of others. This applies especially in public places and it is basic to our philosophy of life, to the sort of society that we envisage for South Africa.
Do not let the hon. the Minister come with the argument that the examples one gives appear to be far-fetched and that he would never do a thing like that. That is not an argument that holds any water. As I have said, he could do it, and if he were to apply a blanket ban it could have that effect. Once power is given, once you can do something, even though you say you will not, then that thing can happen. Either the hon. the Deputy Minister really did not know what was in the Bill and this is just clumsy incompetence, or it is muted malice. It is one of the two.
Sir, do the hon. gentlemen who sit on that side appreciate that we come here to make laws? The words which are in this Bill, once it has passed through this House, will be the law. The print in the Bill is the law, and not what some Deputy Minister says the law is. It is not what he says the words mean and not what his sycophants say, but what this Bill as agreed to eventually in this House and the words in it, mean to our peoples. And whether the powers are in excess of those the Government says it wants and needs, they can be exercised, and most important of all, if they are exercised to the detriment of the individuals in our society, what redress do people have except to go to court for any affront to their privacy and their individuality and to their very freedom itself, as it is properly understood? They will go to the courts. In the end, and in the beginning, all democracy and all freedom rests with independent courts.
I remember the hon. the Prime Minister defining democracy when he spoke to the General Council of the Bar at Grahams-town some years ago. He said a democratic country was a country which had regular elections and which had a free and independent judiciary. Now, if Parliament gives these powers as they are, and they are used, the courts are powerless to interfere if these powers have been given, and it is clear that they have been given in unequivocal terms. In our view these powers have been given and they may be used, and we are not prepared to be party to the giving of powers which may be used although some Deputy Minister or some Government says it does not intend them to be used, and especially not this Government, when one has regard to what we have seen over the last few days relating to broken promises in other fields.
The hon. the Deputy Minister made a case about modernizing the procedure. What are the examples which he gave? He said that the Police, when they call upon people to disperse, should only have to shout once in each of the official languages. I do not think one can cavil at that. The circumstances in which the necessity arises and when you are obliged to say that if the people do not disperse, you will have to use force, are situations in which you have very little time and when an ugly situation has already developed. A policeman then has to make up his mind on the spur of the moment what should be done in his best judgment. I do not think that matters; I think that is fair enough. But why do you no longer have to tell them that if they do not disperse, you will use force? Surely that is an essential ingredient of this? The public do not know what the law relating to riotous assemblies is and what the position is if a policeman says in a loud voice in both official languages that they shall disperse in three minutes and that if they do not, force will be used. Why is that taken out? I do not think that is modernizing.
But the hon. the Deputy Minister explained that.
No, he did not; why did he not explain it?
He explained it in his speech.
No, he did not explain that. I now turn to the provisions relating to feelings of hostility, which we find in the proposed new section 2(4). These provisions have been in the Act since 1914 too. I quote the subsection as it is now going to read—
then certain things can be done. Why not also feelings between different population groups? Surely, in this modern time in which we live—not 1914—this should also be prevented. I am thinking of the engendering of feelings of hostility between Indians and Africans for example.
Like the riots we had in Durban.
Yes, that is right. Like the riots we had in Durban. I am also thinking of the engendering of feelings of hostility between Africans and Africans with the kind of faction fights that we have been seeing. There is also the engendering of feelings of hostility between Whites and Whites.
Between Hertzogites and Nationalists, for example.
Do you want to widen the powers?
It is not a case of widening the powers.
Tell me what you want to do and I shall consider it.
Reconsider the Bill. [Interjections.]
I suppose that if we were to have in this Bill a provision dealing with the engendering of feelings of hostility between Whites and Whites, perhaps the hon. the Deputy Minister might be constrained to ban all the Nationalist Party election meetings. [Interjections.] But the point is: Why not make the Bill applicable to the engendering of feelings of hostility between different population groups? [Interjections.] The hon. the Deputy Minister says that we should tell him and then he will do what he can for us. I have told him of the fundamental changes that this Bill brings about and why. I have told him that if this Bill is applied, especially with those blanket provisions, it will inevitably lead to individual hardship. I have told him that he has not mentioned this to the House. I have told him that this Bill is an unnecessary invasion of the privacy of people with the object of restoring or maintaining public peace.
In these circumstances we cannot accept the Bill at this stage and I move as an amendment—
- (a) the Bill permits the exercise of arbitrary powers which could result in unwarranted and unjustified interference in the private lives and rights of individuals to an extent not necessary for the maintenance of public peace and order;
- (b) the Bill abandons the principles of the law relating to riotous assemblies and the disturbances of public peace and order, which have been applied and accepted in South Africa for 60 years; and
- (c) the Bill fails to provide adequate safeguards against injustices to innocent individuals and organizations.”.
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Opposition should have displayed such forced enthusiasm this evening, at this late stage of the session. They sit here and roar, they sit here and make noises, but in the process they are only making themselves ridiculous. They are a real bunch of clowns. Why is this done? It is done…
Order! The hon. member must withdraw the word “clowns”.
I shall withdraw it, Mr. Speaker. There is… [Interjections.]
I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.
There will be an opportunity for more than two months for the hon. members to speak on public platforms and there one should be able to make them understand very clearly what is really thought of this performance tonight, this performance in public. What greets the eyes of the public when serious matters such as these are discussed? This silly spectacle on the part of the Opposition. And those hon. members supposedly have the security of South Africa at heart. They were the people who conducted a debate on the motion of no confidence on the basis that the National Party was supposedly a security risk for the country.
This, then, is the performance this evening, this is the performance we get from people who accuse the National Party of being a security risk for South Africa. There are two very, very important reasons for this. The first is that the United Party is on the horns of a dilemma. They did not know what line of action to take with regard to this legislation. After all, this legislation did not come upon them suddenly; they have known for a long time that legislation of this kind was on its way. As far back as 18 months ago it was said that such legislation was on its way. The hon. the Prime Minister said after the student disturbances of 1972, as far back as that, that this legislation was on its way, and the hon. the Minister of Police said the same.
In what form?
These hon. members have not suddenly been taken by surprise. However, they are on the horns of a dilemma. If they agree with the provisions of this legislation, they are playing into the hands of the Progressive Party. If they do not agree with the provisions of this legislation and try to play the Progressive Party’s game, they find themselves faced with the National Party. The United Party did not know what line of action to take—until the Rand Daily Mail assisted them yesterday. The Rand Daily Mail came along with the headline “U.P. dithers as Progs lash Bills”. Then the United Party suddenly decided that a meeting should be held. The report reads—
Then, suddenly, hon. members convened a meeting and decided they were going to act. At that meeting the following decision was apparently taken: “Look here, we must display a little drive. We must display a little fieriness. We are the upholders of the security of South Africa.” That apparently, is what they decided for themselves, and what has been the result? This silly spectacle this evening. This evening we have had here a frontbencher of the United Party, their shadow Minister of Justice, speaking on this Bill. What did he say in respect of this measure? Only two things, and they are not even of any importance, although I am going to react to them.
He accused the hon. the Deputy Minister of dishonesty in that he had omitted to deal with important provisions of this Bill in this House. The second is that the hon. member repeated for 25 minutes that two fundamental principles were being altered by this Bill and that the hon. the Deputy Minister had not told the House this. For 25 minutes he told us what those two fundamental principles were, without his proposing any improvement in that regard. The hon. member is aware of the special reasons for the amendment of the Riotous Assemblies Act. He knows that there is only one important reason for the amendment of this Act, namely to amend this Act as may be necessary and from the practical experience of recent years, in the interests of the security of and good order for the inhabitants of South Africa.
That is what is being done here. After all, the hon. member knows very well what the Cape Supreme Court said in regard to this Act and the ideas expressed by Mr. Justice Van Zyl. Surely the hon. member knows that the background to the most important provisions in this Bill are based on that judgment by the Supreme Court.
Why does that hon. member, as the person responsible in that party and as a senior lawyer, not come forward and conduct a debate in this House with reference, inter alia, to that extremely important decision and to those circumstances? They were not just everyday circumstances. There were thousands of students involved in meetings and processions in South Africa. Clashes took place here. On one occasion between 12 000 and 15 000 members of the public were involved in a gathering of people in Cape Town. This was not just a case of two people in a private house. The hon. member accused the hon. the Deputy Minister of dishonesty, but what did the hon. the Deputy Minister say? Virtually at the beginning of his speech he said, “In clause 1 definitions in the existing Act are deleted, amended and introduce… The effect of this is that not only are public gatherings of 12 persons or more in a public place affected by the Act, but any gathering of any number of people at any place”. How is the hon. the Deputy Minister to put it any clearer than that? Surely the hon. member also knows that Parliament does not legislate to provide for absurdities. Surely it is an acknowledged rule in our interpretation of statutes that the legislature does not legislate to provide for absurdities. In other words, a Bill is not being brought before the House this evening to provide that three people may no longer sit and play cards in their bedroom.
But that is the effect of it.
That is what the hon. member would like to bring home to the public. Why does he want to bring such absurdities home to the public? Because he would like to discredit the National Party and the Government with these absurdities. But absurdities of this kind will fall flat in the election. Our public is too well informed to take any notice of such absurdities at an election. The hon. member comes along with these examples because he wants to imply thereby that we are dealing with a weak Government, one which uses this kind of legislation as an election gimmick. The National Party does not need to do this. The National Party has never been stronger; in all its history it has never stood as strong as it does now. The performance of the hon. the Minister of Finance to which we listened this evening has seldom before been equalled in this House, with regard to both his personal performance and the finances of South Africa. Except for the ordinary criticism one will normally have from the public—and it is right that there should be criticism—there is at least one point on which the public at large are loyal to the Government, whether they support the National Party, the United Party, the Progressive Party or some other party, the exception being the representatives of the United Party sitting in this House—and that is that this Government sees to the security of South Africa in all its aspects. We do not need to use a Bill as an election gimmick.
There is another aspect to which I should like to refer, namely that the hon. member made a point of the fact that this legislation interfered with the privacy of peoples’ rights and the privacy of peoples’ homes. The hon. member went on to say that if the hon. the Deputy Minister had intimated or if it had been laid down anywhere in the legislation that the Government had in mind a gathering at a private place which could be seen and from which a frame of mind could develop as a result of which, as he said, “trouble could escalate”, then that would be something which could be considered. Once again the hon. member knows better, surely he knows what standpoint was taken up in the Supreme Court in regard to the steps of the Cathedral in St. George’s Street. Surely he knows that there was argument as to which part of the steps was private and which part of the steps was public property. Surely he knows that it was argued that the existing Act did not apply on private property. Surely he knows very well that the students of Cape Town were also informed on that point and only stood on private property or at some monument or other? At that stage they were well within their rights in doing so, but what was the result in the light of the atmosphere prevailing in South Africa at that time? The Wits students, too, got wise about this. They went and stood in their hundreds just alongside Jan Smuts Avenue, but on university property. From there went forth the most extreme provocation of the police in the streets and of the public.
If anything develops from this, then it is the police and the public who are blamed, but the students can simply stand behind the fence in the safety of the university grounds and from that point make all manner of provocative remarks. Then one had better not lay a hand on the poor mites because they are on private property. Surely the hon. member knows that this is what the hon. the Minister has in mind in bringing private property into this. The hon. member surely realizes, too, that when a particular gathering is prohibited, “common purpose” is no element in the offence. Various aspects of such a meeting are given in the definition of “gathering” in clause 1. Reference is made to various provisions in clause 2. In another type of gathering, when there is a total prohibition, “common purpose” is, in fact, an element. In other words, if a total prohibition is placed on a meeting and more than two people were to meet at a given place—for example in a bus queue—then an element of common purpose would have to be present, irrespective of whether the gathering was legal or illegal. What “common purpose” amounts to, according to the decision to which the hon. member also referred, namely that of Dudley v. Minister of Justice, is that in their joint gathering, these people must have a common purpose in mind which they wish to achieve by means of joint action. That is what is amounts to in plain English. Therefore, this safety valve for the public does exist. It is not a case of the magistrate, the Minister or the Police simply going to interfere at will in people’s private homes and at gatherings henceforth. Since the hon. member is aware of this, why does he not tell this to the House? Why does the hon. member keep hammering on this point that there will be interference of that kind in the private lives of people? I say that the hon. member and other hon. members opposite are taking up this attitude this evening, in respect of this Bill because they do not want to admit the necessity of amending the Act. Let me give hon. members a practical example now. Do they know what happened when the disturbances took place here last year? On 1 June a few students demonstrated outside here and they were removed. A few days later students demonstrated here again. They came from the university in a procession and established themselves at the Cathedral here. Eventually there was total disruption there that afternoon and a few people received some blows. And then, on 5 June, a meeting was convened, again by the students, on the steps of the Cathedral, and, in fact, for a specific time. I think it was for 1.15 p.m. The police had already had a few days’ background of unrest being incited and not only in Cape Town, because the situation had had a ripple effect over South Africa. They went to the magistrate and informed him in an affidavit that it was necessary for this meeting to be prohibited. If it were not prohibited, thousands of people would assemble on that day, and violence could break out among those thousands of people. Were violence to break out among those thousands of people, people could be injured, even killed, and property could be damaged. The magistrate acted on the strength of those details, and serious circumstances… The hon. member for Wynberg is shaking her head. She knows that this is true. She knows what it looked like here that afternoon. We all went to look. The police went there with the magistrate’s order. The Act, which is now being amended, provides that that order by the magistrate has to be made known to the public. There was not time to publish it in a Government Gazette, nor was there time to publish it in a newspaper. So the brigadier of the police had to go from place to place with a loudspeaker and read the notice every time in Afrikaans and in English. He read it at ten different places. Then he gave the loudspeaker to the second-in-command, Col. Crous. He, in turn, read it at five different places. All this reading took them about 40 minutes. In the meantime the public was enjoying this whole affair, because here, surely, was a confrontation in the making. Is it really in the interests of the security of South Africa that we should retain this clumsy procedure? Eventually it was necessary to use tear gas, and the people dispersed—after about two hours. But two men, the leaders of these people, clerics, decided that under these circumstances they wanted to protest further. They remained standing on those steps. They did not disperse. The police told them to disperse, and one of them said, “No, but why do you arrest my friends and not me?” They remained standing there knowing full well that as soon as 12 or more people assembled, they would be breaking the law and could be arrested, and that was what they wanted. They wanted to be arrested, because then, of course, They would attract sympathy and could build up further sympathy. Let it be so, then. They stood there until about 5.15 p.m.; by that time 12 of them had assembled there, and what option did the police have? The police simply had to go there again and read the notice again to the 12—no. I think there were about 15—standing on the steps, and repeat to them, “If you do not disperse, there will be police action”. But the officer in charge there was intelligent enough not to tell those 12 or 15 people, “If you do not disperse, I shall use force”. Now the hon. member is asking for these words to be put back into the Act. Does he want that kind of confrontation, between 100 police and X-number of people who are inciting a confrontation, in the presence of a few hundred or a few thousand members of the public who are going to enjoy that confrontation? The officer in charge now has to tell the public, “If you do not disperse, I shall use force against you. In other words, I am going to hit you with batons, or do this or that to you”. Mr. Speaker, in that electrically-charged atmosphere, is that the kind of language to employ? The officer in charge did not do this and I think it was very intelligent of him not to have used those words. If he had used those words, there could perhaps have been far uglier scenes than did in fact occur. Those 15 people were then arrested because they were continuing with a meeting which had been advertised for that afternoon, and those two had not left the steps. If they had left, then that gathering at 5.15 that afternoon would not have been a meeting in terms of the Act. But, Sir, what happened when those people went on appeal? The first point they made on appeal, was that the police official had not warned them that he was going to use force. The fact that the officer in charge had not said that he was going to use force, was immediately used against the police when the case reached the Appeal Court. The judge’s finding was that the magistrate had been incorrect in assuming that the police had carried out their duties in terms of the Act. Sir, is it an unnecessary violation of the rights of individuals if matters of this kind are rectified? Can we allow this? In the case of the meeting in Johannesburg, in which the students of the University of the Witwatersrand were involved the notice declaring the meeting unlawful was legal. Technically everything was in order. There were not as many other technical shortcomings as in the case of the meeting in Cape Town. Everything was in order technically, and there the police officer simply informed the people: “If you do not disperse within three or ten minutes, then I shall take action against you.” He did not say that he would use force against them, and it was on the basis of that single point that the police officer had not said that he was going to use force, that the magistrate’s finding was that these people should be found not guilty. But what was the result of this? Immediately after that, in the court, Miss Cunningham climbed on a table and every last student was photographed in the court as if they had supposedly won a great political victory over the Government of the day; their innocence was proved: not one of those people in Johannesburg or in Cape Town had committed an offence; this mass incitement in Cape Town was no offence; it was no offence to have acted in the same way in Johannesburg; these were all innocent people; and the newspapers came along with massive headlines about the innocent people who had been dragged before the courts by this violent Government, and all this merely because the police official had not said at the end of the procedure, “If you do not disperse, I shall use force against you”. Now the Government is saying: “I cannot allow the administration of justice to be frustrated to such an extent merely by those few provisions in the Act; and it is very important that those words should not be used”. Does the United Party not agree with that? Would the United Party, then, prefer that those confrontations should take place? Would they prefer that violence take place, merely in order to escape falling into the hands of the Progressive Party? Sir, I say to them, “Go and fight elections on basic political principles; do not put on the kind of performance which has been put on here this evening.” Mr. Speaker, let us take another example. As the Act reads at present, a meeting may be advertised for a specific time and place. Now the magistrate goes ahead and prohibits-that particular meeting at that time and place. What happens then? The people assemble there and the police tell them they have to disperse. They disperse and merely stop half a mile down the street and reassemble there. Now it is no longer the same meeting, because they did disperse; it is not a continuation of the first meeting.
Now the Police have to go to the magistrate all over again and tell him that the meeting is going to be held half a mile further down the street. Do you see how absurd this is, Sir? This Government is now asking this legislative body to provide it with legislation which will remove absurdities of this kind from the Statute Book. Sir, we shall tell our voters that the United Party is not prepared to remove difficulties of this kind from an Act so that the administration of the good order and security of the community of South Africa may be facilitated. [Interjections.] Let me mention another example. The Act provides that the magistrate must prohibit a specific meeting at a specific place. But this place is not always identifiable. If the meeting develops into a procession and it remains one meeting—let us take it that the procession is one meeting which is moving—then it is a moving meeting. Clearly it is not always identifiable from place to place. Then, as happened here in Cape Town, the magistrate says that he prohibits a gathering within these four streets between 12 o’clock midday and 12 o’clock that night. The next thing that happens arising from that, is that an appeal is lodged on the grounds that the magistrate has not identified the meeting in regard to a specific place. [Interjection.] The hon. member for East London City should rather confine his attention to other matters, because he has no idea of what is involved here. There are but few things he knows anything about. Sir, you see, therefore, that in this respect too, the Government is coming and asking Parliament. “Give me powers to enable my officials and those of my Ministers who are involved, to take action more easily and rapidly and with greater clarity.” What more does the public want? What the public wants, in fact, is greater clarity. There is absolutely nothing which is not clear in this Bill. What is more, this provision to which the hon. member is objecting so vehemently, namely that the definition of a gathering be altered from 12 or more people to any number of people, which means more than one, is a kind of definition which has been on the Statute Book since 1950, since the Suppression of Communism Act. Surely this is not such a fundamental thing. It is an acknowledged position in our law. With what does the hon. member want to come to this House? The fundamental amendments in regard to the definition of a gathering? But there is nothing fundamental in that. Nothing at all, because it has been on the Statute Book since 1950. The other is in respect of private property, and I have already said that the legislator is not there to provide for absurdities. What, then is fundamental in this? The hon. member tried to show the Deputy Minister up as a liar, which he was not. He was quite frank, and if the hon. the Deputy Minister had not been quite frank, either with this House or with the public, how then is it possible that every last newspaper published these points in the past few days, how is it that the members of the Press read the Act and saw these matters and commented on them, but hon. members opposite are surprised? This, supposedly, is something they knew nothing about; the hon. the Deputy Minister has supposedly kept it quiet. What notice should be taken of an Opposition like that, which is not even capable of reading a Bill. But the Press can read it, and what is more, this means that they do not even read their own Press. That is the position. No, it is also clear from the comments which appeared in various English-language newspapers, which are not kindly disposed towards the Government, that there is precious little in this legislation before us on which the Government can in fact be criticized if we are to be honest with one another concerning what is in the interests of the security of South Africa.
Mr. Speaker, the more I listen to the hon. member and to the hon. the Deputy Minister, the more I am convinced and of the opinion that those hon. members do not appreciate the implications of this Bill and that this is, as the hon. member for Durban North said, a new concept which is being transplanted onto an old concept, and that does not work. The hon. members on that side of the House must realize this. The hon. member for Potchefstroom waxed lyrical here about the student demonstrations which took place last year and several other incidents of a similar nature. This is all very well, but those things are not mentioned in the Bill. The Bill does not deal with them. It is much wider in scope.
What does it deal with then?
If it only dealt with that, we would have had no problems. I cannot understand the hon. member and the hon. the Deputy Minister both speaking on the Bill without either of them penetrating to the crux of the Bill. They speak vaguely about generalities. The hon. member for Potchefstroom says there is only one reason for the introduction of this Bill, namely that it is in the interests of the security of the country and to maintain law and order as when this may be necessary. These are the vague generalities which are empty and mean absolutely nothing on earth. It is not even a good election speech. This is not the type of answer we expect from hon. members on that side of the House on as important a subject as this. One must have a searching inquiry into this matter. The hon. member for Potchefstroom spoke about an article which had appeared in the Rand Daily Mail, and he suggested that the United Party’s attitude had been influenced by it. It has been a long time since I last heard such nonsense in my life. The United Party’s standpoint on basic human rights and civil rights is very well known, and in the course of many years in this House it was stated by the hon. member for Durban North and many other hon. members and their predecessors. This is a standpoint of principle; it is not merely an election standpoint which we take up. The standpoint we take up, has always been the leading principle of the United Party. This is why we take up this standpoint. The hon. member for Potchefstroom also spoke about the universities. He said that the sole aim of this Bill was actually to take a firm line with those students who stand behind a fence surrounding a private property instead of taking up a position in a public place.
No he did not say so; he only mentioned an example.
Yes, he mentioned it as an example and he said this was what the Bill was aimed at.
Where is that stated in the Bill?
If there are reasons which are more fundamental than that, why did he not say so? This is the example he mentioned, and that is why I am dealing with that example. The very first question which occurs to me, is whether the hon. the Deputy Minister and the Government want to tell us that they are basically opposed to any form of public protest. [Interjections.] I am asking whether they are opposed to any form of public protest. After all, the hon. member for Potchefstroom did give such an indication. He did not refer to riotous assemblies; he referred to students standing behind a fence.
The answer to your question is “no”.
If the answer is “no”, then it is not as serious a matter as they make it out to be pretending that the police should always be there. In the case all these things do not necessarily have to happen and confrontation does not necessarily have to take place. No, those matters just do not work that way. The closest the hon. member came to giving any sort of explanation, was when he spoke of the possible common objective which people might have. In this regard he mentioned the example of a bus queue. He spoke of people queueing for a bus. He said that the Bill would not affect them. It is not only such people who may be affected. There are many other lawful matters with which this Bill will interfere. What about people who will hold normal political meetings? For instance, I am thinking of the branch committee meetings of any political party. The people attending such a meeting have a common objective. They come under the provision of this Bill. [Interjections.] That is just the point, because the hon. member for Potchefstroom said my explanation of the matter was correct.
May I put a question to the hon. member?
Unfortunately I do not have the time to reply now to questions put by the hon. member. If the hon. member wants a lecture on the law, he may come to my office later on and there I shall tell him everything he wants to know, as well as a few things he does not want to know.
†I believe that we must look more closely at this Bill because in evaluating any Bill whatsoever, we must distinguish between what it purports to do and what it in fact does. That is the problem of the hon. member for Potchefstroom and the hon. the Deputy Minister. We must distinguish very carefully between what it purports to do and what it in fact does. What does this Bill purport to do? In the first instance it purports to stop assemblies or gatherings of people, as defined, which are or may become riotous, from taking place. What is a riotous assembly? Surely, the word “riotous” is an adjective describing the nature of the assembly? That means that the assembly itself is one which in itself will become or is already in the nature of a riot and therefore is uncontrolled, violent and anarchistic. The reason for wanting to prohibit such meetings is obviously to protect the lives and property of innocent people and the public at large. Obviously nobody would have any quarrel with this avowed purpose and neither do we. In fact, this is exactly what the law has always done.
Secondly, the Bill purports merely to extend the existing powers, to prohibit riotous assemblies from taking place on private property. It seems obvious that it is illogical that if a riotous assembly is on public property the law can stop it, but if the same riotous assembly takes place on private property it is beyond the law. By the very nature of a riot it follows that it will spill uncontrollably out from wherever it started and literally run riot throughout the area. Therefore such an assembly should not be beyond the law if it takes place on private property. We must remember that in the extension of the scope of this power, the guiding principle is once again to protect the lives, limbs, property and rights of innocent people and the public at large. Here there can be no quarrel either.
Thirdly, of course, the Bill purports to confer powers on the police which will enable them to deal physically with such a meeting should it take place notwithstanding the previous powers contained in the Bill. The underlying motive once again is to protect the lives and property of the people. Therefore, once again, there can be no quarrel about this.
Let us see how this Bill measures up to its avowed purposes. The new section 2(1) as inserted by clause 2 states that a magistrate, when he has reason to apprehend that the public peace would be seriously endangered by any gathering in his district or by a particular gathering, may prohibit for a period not exceeding 48 hours every gathering in his district. So, because he suspects that a gathering will endanger public peace he can therefore prohibit every gathering, which means every gathering of two or more people who have a common purpose. The Minister’s powers are even wider, especially in the sense that he is not limited to an order for 48 hours; his prohibition may in fact remain in force for an unlimited period. The question which immediately arises is that if language means anything, surely it means that this power will not only be used to ban meetings which are going to erupt into violence or meetings which will turn into riots, but also the ordinary, everyday getting-together of people? The hon. member for Durban North has already named some of these gatherings such as bridge games, soccer games—where people have a common purpose—a chess match, party branch meetings, and rate payers’ association meetings which are political in nature. Even more mundane things, such as two people going into a pub to have a drink, and family and friends visiting each other, are included here. These activities will all constitute gatherings as defined and these people will all have a common purpose which will be fulfilled by common action. They all fall under the provisions of this Bill. It means that this prohibition might even be forever. The point is that it becomes absolutely laughable. It does not matter that the Minister, in making such an order, says that he does not intend this result. This is not the issue. If the Minister so much as puts his pen to paper in terms of the authority granted to him under this Bill it will have the result I have described, through the automatic operation of the law, because that is what the Bill means and says.
The other argument the hon. member for Potchefstroom also used—and I want to say that it is of no use that he uses that argument—is to say that obviously these people will not be prosecuted even if they do fall under the provisions of the Bill. We must never be governed by Ministerial exemption, and then exemption from the very laws he has made. We cannot have that situation pertaining in South Africa. The law must be certain and people must know what the law is. Who can be certain when there are Draconian powers such as these in an Act of Parliament? The question I ask myself, and the question I think everyone in this House must seriously ask himself, is this: “Can we still call ourselves a democracy and can we with pride reflect on our heritage of enlightenment and freedom if our only safeguard and freedom lies in Ministerial grace?” Must our children one day pray and say every morning: “In freedom we live to see the sun rise this day by the grace of the Minister of Justice?” It is no use saying that we must be governed by exemption from the laws which are created, because the immediate question is one which I also want to put to the hon. member for Potchefstroom: Is this Government then unable to introduce a Bill which says what they mean? Are they unable to draft a Bill which is proper and due under the circumstances? Are they unable to give to Parliament and to the country those laws which are necessary, instead of such a loosley-worded and widely-framed aberration such as this Bill?
Is this an unnecessary measure?
That hon. member shows his ignorance to such an extent that it is clear that it is virtually impossible to have an intelligent debate with such comments flying around. What of the avowed motives behind this Bill, i.e. to protect the innocent and the public at large? I want to ask whether you do in fact protect the rights of citizens by preventing them from going about their lawful business, which includes attending meetings, even political meetings, playing bridge games, going to soccer matches and doing all sorts of things in a particular area where you have the right to do them? Is this protecting them? Do you protect the rights of people by invading the very rights you seek to protect? No, these Draconian powers do not secure; they invade. They do not protect; they destroy. They are not in any manner or form measures to prevent meetings which will turn into violent riots. The hon. member for Durban North stressed that it is a completely new concept—this is also in the amendment—because it does not primarily, as we have seen, deal with riotous assemblies or with a gathering of a group of people which may get out of hand and become violent. Under a normal interpretation of the wording of this Bill, the measure goes much further than this because a meeting of two people could hardly ever be construed as a disturbance of the peace, and disturbing the peace is already a crime under the common law. For all we know, this measure seeks to prevent conspiracies. I do not know whether the hon. the Deputy Minister, who introduced this Bill, has in mind something which is not evident from his speech. It seems to me that he may have motives and ideas which were not evident from his speech, because in fact very little was evident from his speech. Does he seek to control conspiracies? It seems to me that, according to the Bill, the gatherings which are referred to are not gatherings which will immediately develop into riots. One can interpret the Bill as including gatherings which may at some stage in the future result in riotous behaviour and a disturbance of the peace. Is this what the hon. the Deputy Minister has in mind? That is one of the reasons why we say that this Bill does not deal with riotous assemblies. In any event, the Government has powers under the common law to deal with such conspiracies if that is what is envisaged. They have many powers conferred on them by other Acts which have passed through this House, to deal with such conspiracies if that is what is enactions. I think I have shown adequately that in no way does this Bill measure up to its avowed purpose. The measure is so wide, so all-encompassing, that, in fact, it makes a mockery of its avowed purpose. It makes a mockery of justice and of democracy. Its principle and purpose are to me just a smokescreen. It reminds one, virtually, of the trickery of a magician, because you think you see what you do not see, but you do not see what you think you see. That is exactly what is happening in this Bill.
*This is the wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing. They come up with fine tales and tell us that this harmless little Bill is only there to deal with the few students on the steps and the few students who stand and protest on the campus walls.
Do you see anything sinister in this legislation?
I see in it something which may be sinister. I do not say that it is in fact sinister, but in terms of a normal interpretation of the words of the Bill, it is so wide that virtually infinite powers are given to the Government in this Bill.
Do you think one will be able to turn round a truck in it?
One will be able to turn round a Boeing in it. This is the whole point why we are opposed to it. We do not oppose the basic principle that the property and lives of the public of South Africa and the general peace must be protected. We also want to protect these things and we have always protected them. We have always been in favour of this, but then the Government should come forward with a properly thought out and drafted Bill in which it says what it means. If the hon. the Deputy Minister says that this Bill says what he means, he does not really mean what he tells us he means, or he does not know what the real intention of this Bill is. That is the point.
†It is in fact a complete smokescreen which they are putting up; it is a bluff; it is, in fact, as the hon. member for Durban North has said, an election gimmick, because that is the reason why the hon. the Deputy Minister is rushing this legislation through. We have had the Riotous Assemblies Act, as it stands, since 1914, as the hon. member for Durban North has said.
Not as it stands.
Virtually as it stands. This Government has been in power since 1948. It has found the Riotous Assemblies Act, as it stands, in order. Now, suddenly, they have to come with this Bill. They say it is so urgent; it has to go through. What has changed? Why is it now suddenly so urgent? No, Sir, nothing is going to happen between now and when the next Parliament meets. The only thing which is going to happen, is not a riotous assembly, but an election. That is what hon. members are afraid of. I do not know but perhaps they are afraid of the H.N.P. meetings. These are known sometimes to be rather unruly, one might say. One of the major reasons for that is the attendance at those meetings of members on the opposite side. That is probably the reason why the Bill says that certain people may be prohibited from attending certain meetings. No, Sir, the only reason is that the hon. the Deputy Minister wishes to say to the people of South Africa: “This is what the United Party said.” This is what the hon. member for Potchefstroom has said. In other words it is an election gimmick; he came out with it too quickly. He could not resist it because he knew that this would be the killing line, the big line that they are going to throw.
*“The United Party says the Government is a security risk, but here they come along and vote against a good, dear, darling Bill such as this one which cannot do anyone any harm and which is there to protect you good people, and here we have the naughty, bad United Party voting against this Bill.” This is the approach; this is the reason, for they know, and the hon. the Deputy Minister knows that, if he drafts a Bill in as simple and poor a way as this one has been drafted, if it is so wide in scope, the United Party will, on principle—because it is basically a party that adheres to principles—not support this Bill. The hon. the Deputy Minister knew that as surely as he is sitting there. That is why we have this great haste all of a sudden to rush this Bill through at this stage, while he knows that there is far more urgent work that has to be done. Now the hon. the Deputy Minister wants to come and talk about a matter of principle such as this. He uses not only the Bill and what is stated in it, but also this debate to serve as a public platform for the election. I find the motives behind this Bill and the provisions of the Bill by themselves to be of such a nature that I do not think that anyone who believes in proper human rights, in justice and in democracy, can support such a measure to any degree, and therefore I support the amendment by the hon. member for Durban North.
In accordance with Standing Order No. 23, the House adjourned at