House of Assembly: Vol5 - TUESDAY 16 JUNE 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
asked the Minister of Finance whether the Government will lay upon the Table of the House copies of all cables addressed to the various Dominion Governments regarding the proposed alterations in the Customs Tariff and all replies received thereto?
The reply is in the negative.
asked the Minister of Public Health:
- (1) Whether he has read a report by an English doctor on the way in which dried fruit, particularly Smyrna figs, is prepared in the East by sufferers from venereal diseases; and
- (2) whether, seeing that large quantities of Smyrna figs and other dried fruits are imported from the East, he does not consider it desirable to prohibit such importation?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) Venereal diseases are not likely to be conveyed in the way referred to. The information at present available is not sufficient to justify the prohibition on health grounds of such importations. Steps are being taken to obtain further information.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether all Natal railway servants are guaranteed a six days’ week under the Act of Union, apart from Regulation No. 87 of the Service; if not,
- (2) what grades are so guaranteed; and
- (3) whether guaranteed men can claim six days’ pay on pay day when they have worked six days in the previous week?
- (1) The reply is in the negative.
- (2) Drivers and firemen who were employed in the late Natal Government Railway Service in either of such grades on the 31st May, 1910, and who were then guaranteed payment for not less than the weekdays in the week on which they were available for duty, are the only ex-Natal employees now given a weekly guarantee.
- (3) Where the pay month ends on a Friday, it is customary to pay five days, but this is equalized by the payment of seven days in the following week and the guarantee, therefore, is not affected.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the importance and the necessity of studying oversea markets, the Government will take into serious consideration the desirability of placing a sufficient sum on the Estimates for an annual overseas tour by farmers of the Union?
The Government recognizes the importance of overseas tours by farmers. If, however, they were financed from public funds they would become an official undertaking, and private initiative and assistance would probably fall away. The Government is, therefore, not prepared to make provision for such tours on the Estimates of Expenditure, but will give whatever support it can in the organization thereof.
asked the Minister of the Interior
- (1) What was the amount received by the Government in consequence of the forfeiture of money deposited and security given by candidates under section 38 (2) of the Electoral Act, No. 12 of 1918, in connection with the general election on the 17th June, 1924; and
- (2) in which electoral divisions and in the case of which candidates were the votes recorded at the said election less than one-fifth of the votes recorded in favour of the successful candidates?
- (1) £250.
- (2) Illovo, A. Fawcus; Denver, S. Scott; Pretoria West, P. J. Botes; Troyeville, W. E. Bleloch; Vrededorp, C. J. Smith.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether one Pfaff, sheep inspector in the Klip River Division, Natal, has been dismissed;
- (2) whether it is a fact that when Pfaff first assumed his duties he found scab rife, and that at present as a result of Pfaff’s arduous work the district in which he worked is practically free from scab;
- (3) if Pfaff has been dismissed, what are the reasons for his dismissal;
- (4) whether the reasons for his dismissal were communicated to Pfaff;
- (5) whether it is a fact that one Du Plooy has been appointed in Pfaff’s place; if so,
- (6) what are Du Plooy’s qualifications for the post;
- (7) whether it is a fact that the said Du Plooy is a supporter of the Nationalist party; and
- (8) on whose recommendations was Pfaff dismissed and Du Plooy appointed?
- (1) In connection with the reorganization of the sheep inspection work, owing to the abolition of the Sheep Division and the amalgamation of the work with that of the Veterinary Division, some of the staff have become redundant, and Mr. Pfaff is one of the officers who is being retired.
- (2) In 1924 his area was in a worse state than when he took it over in 1922. Before the recent simultaneous dipping there was a good deal of scab in the area.
- (3) It is considered that the retention of his successor is preferable in the public interests.
- (4) No.
- (5) Yes.
- (6) He has been sheep inspector in Umvoti county.
- (7) I do not know, and do not propose to enquire.
- (8) On the recommendation of the Veterinary Division.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) When was the Karroo Veld Reserve at Fauresmith bought, from whom, and at what price;
- (2) what is the extent of the reserve;
- (3) whether the reserve is fenced;
- (4) whether it was fenced when bought, and, if not, what did it cost to fence;
- (5) whether the fencing was only stock proof or vermin proof;
- (6) whether there are any buildings on the reserve;
- (7) who is in charge of the reserve, and at what pay;
- (8) whether there is any permanent water on the reserve;
- (9) whether the veld is purely Karroo, or grass, or mixed; and
- (10) whether there is any game on the reserve?
- (1) The reserve was not bought, but was placed at the Government’s disposal by the Fauresmith Municipality in January, 1925.
- (2) About 100 acres.
- (3) and (4) The reserve was partly fenced when obtained from the municipality, and still is only partly fenced.
- (5) The fence is stock proof only.
- (6) No.
- (7) A curator has not yet been appointed to take charge of the reserve.
- (8) No; it is proposed to bore for water.
- (9) The veld is Karroo and grass mixed.
- (10) No game has been observed on the reserve.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours whether the Government will take into consideration the erection at an early date of grain elevators at Caledon and at Klipdale, on the Caledon-Bredasdorp railway, in view of the recommendation of the technical committee on this subject, and owing to the large increase in wheat production in the districts of Caledon and Bredasdorp?
Before considering the extension of the elevator system the Administration proposes to await the result of experience in working the elevators already established. The claims of Caledon and Klipdale will be borne in mind when any extension of the elevator system is under consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence:
- (1) Whether it is the intention of the Government to undertake to defray the expenditure in connection with the expansion of the Royal Naval Dockyard at Simonstown; if so,
- (2) what expenditure would such expansion entail;
- (3) whether any of this expenditure has already been incurred, and, if so, how much; and
- (4) how much does the Government propose to expend during this financial year, and over what period will the balance be expended?
- (1) In 1921 the Union Government agreed to provide new store and workshop accommodation in the East Dockyard in order to release certain buildings in the West Dockyard which were required or are likely to be required for Union naval services. It was also agreed to meet the cost of the erection of two oil tanks together with the initial supply of fuel oil.
- (2) £307,400.
- (3) £125,500 to 31st March, 1925.
- (4) £84,400 during the financial year ending 31st March, 1926; £74,400 in the following year and £23,100 in 1927-’28.
Is there nothing else?
That is the reply to the question asked me.
asked the Minister of Labour:
- (1) Whether he is aware that Miss van der Wagen, who at the time was 19 years old, was taken on as an unpaid learner by Messrs. Sowden & Stoddarts, at Pietermaritzburg; if so,
- (2) whether he is aware that the reason why Miss van der Wagen was to drawn and wages or salary was because she was over the statutory age for the purposes of apprenticeship;
- (3) whether an Inspector of Labour informed the manager of Messrs. Sowden & Stoddarts that Miss van der Wagen must either be in receipt of a salary or be dismissed, and whether she was in consequence dismissed; and
- (4) what steps he proposes to take in order to enable persons in a position similar to that if Miss van der Wagen to equip themselves for the purpose of earning a livelihood and to avoid joining the large army of unemployed persons?
As the information asked for is not available at present, will the hon. member kindly allow this matter to stand over while the particulars are being obtained.
asked the Minister of Labour:
- (1) What allowance per diem, plus steamship and railway fares, was paid by the Union Government to the late Archibald Crawford when he travelled to Europe to represent South African Labour Organizations at the International Labour Conference; and
- (2) what allowance, plus steamship and railway fares, is being paid to Mr. H. W. Sampson, M.L.A., during his present mission to Europe in the same interest, and from what date did his remuneration begin?
- (1) (a), First class rail and steamship tickets; (b), allowance at the rate of 20s. per diem for the rail journey Johannesburg-Cape Town-Johannesburg; (c), allowance at the rate of 10s. per diem whilst on board ship between Cape Town-Southampton-Cape Town (to include stewards’ fees); (d), allowance at the rate of £1 11s. 6d. per diem whilst in England; (e), for the journey London-Paris-Geneva-London, the same allowance as paid by the Imperial Government to its representatives; (f). cabs and other such necessary transport; (g), personal allowance of £30.
- (2) (a), First class rail and steamship fares; (b). allowance at the rate of 20s. per diem for rail journey in Union to and from point of embarkation; (c), allowance of 10s. per diem on board ship to include all fees and other incidental disbursements; (d), allowance at the rate of £2 2s. 6d. per diem whilst resident in England; (e), for the journey London-Paris-Geneva-London the same allowances as paid by the Imperial Government to its representatives; (f), cabs and other such necessary transport; (g), personal allowance of £20; (h) a refund of the deductions from the Parliamentary allowance due to absence; (i), allowances are payable from the date of departure, the 24th April. 1925.
asked the Prime Minister:
- (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to the statements which have appeared from time to time in various newspapers with reference to the Government’s intentions regarding appointments to the Cabinet, appointments of Under Secretaries, appointments to administrator-ships, payment to the Leader of the Opposition, etc;
- (2) whether these statements are supplied to the press directly or indirectly by a member or members of the Cabinet; and
- (3) what steps the Government intends taking to deal with such papers making these unauthorized, unreliable and misleading statements?
- (1) I have seen such statements in newspapers.
- (2) No.
- (3) None.
Arising out of that reply, might I ask if the Prime Minister is aware that in my question handed to the Clerk of the House I distinctly specified a Johannesburg paper, “Forward,” as the primary culprit. If so, can he tell us by what authority the statements appeared?
It is not usual to allow names of newspapers to be mentioned in questions of this nature.
I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he is aware that it is generally recognized on the Reef that a particular newspaper—I will not give the name again—speaks with authority on the views and intentions of the Government, presumably on reliable information; and does this paper officially, semi-officially or unofficially represent the views and intentions of the Government?
I can only say that there is not a single paper which so far as I am concerned—and I think my hon. friends also, but at any rate myself—has any official information or anything of that kind from me.
The forecasts of “Die Burger” are very wonderful.
Well, they do not come from me.
Arising out of that question, I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a statement in the “Rand Daily Mail” on June 5, saying it is the intention of the Government to appoint six under secretaries, and provide a salary for the leader of the Opposition?
I have just answered, I think. I have seen something of the kind, but nothing about the “Rand Daily Mail,” and the rest I know nothing about.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether Mr. H. Oost, M.L.A., has been appointed to proceed to Europe on a Government mission, or whether it is the intention of the Government to so appoint him; and if so,
- (2) (a) what is the nature of the business upon which he is to be employed, (b) what is his itinerary, (c) when is he to sail from South Africa, (d) whether the Government is to pay his steamship and railway fares, (e) at what rate is he to receive pay or allowances, and (f) when does his remuneration begin?
Mr. Oost, M.L.A., is proceeding to Europe, and has voluntarily undertaken whilst there to attend at the British Empire Exhibition for the purpose of assisting in the publicity work. Mr. Oost, whose itinerary will be in his discretion, will also make enquiries and investigations in Great Britain and on the Continent for the benefit of the agricultural and industrial communities with a view to extending the marketing of South African products overseas. Steamship and rail fares incurred by Mr. Oost will be refunded to him. In addition he will be reimbursed reasonable out-of-pocket expenses.
Arising out of the answer to question No. 13, I asked, in my question: when does his remuneration begin? The Minister has not stated from what date this refund will take place, or from what date his out-of-pocket expenses will be charged against the Government.
From the date he undertook this mission; I think a few days ago.
Arising out of the answer to that question, may I ask the Minister if this is considered to be—
and will the hon. members’s seat be vacated in the ordinary course?
The reply is in the negative.
May we be informed what arrangement has been made with regard to the hon. member’s parliamentary allowance’ Is that reckoned as reasonable expenses?
I may say that that is a matter that is dealt with by the hon. member with the Clerk of the House.
May I be allowed to ask if this appointment means that the Government have decided to terminate the services of the Trade Commissioner in England and the Trade Commissioner on the Continent, seeing that Government have appointed this officer to do the work they were supposed to do.
Will the Minister please say when he is going to lay on the Table the report of the Railway Workshops Commission; also the report of the Railway Board of last year? This should be referred to the Select Committee on Railways. Perhaps the Minister will also say when the Railway Construction Bill will be introduced. I understand it is pretty well ready now.
In regard to the Workshops. Commission, I have already indicated that it is a very bulky volume, and that the translation has taken sometime. I hope in about a week’s time to lay the report on the Table. The translation took time, and now the printing is taking time. I cannot give a definite date. The Railway Board’s report is practically completed, and I hope to lay that on the Table within the next few days. In regard to the Railway Construction Bill, the hon. member must “wait and see.”
I wish to move motion No. I standing in my name, viz.—
And, in doing so, will take the opportunity of saying a few words in regard to the business on the Order Paper. I think the House will be anxious to know, more or less, what we intend and hope to get through before the House rises. As to the Bills on the Order List, there are the Provincial Subsidies (No. 1); then the Wage Bill (No. 3); then the Mines and Works Act (Amendment) Bill (No. 4): the Diamond Control Bill (No. 5); the Government Attorney Bill (No. 6); then (No. 10) the Native Lands (Natal and Transvaal) Release Bill. That is one of the ordinary every year things that have to come before Parliament; and then we have, on Monday next, the Co-operative Societies Act, 1922, Amendment Bill, which has been before the House already. This will, as far as the Order List here is concerned, be all. There will be these seven. In addition I may say that there are 7 and 8 on the Order List, which I hope, if there is an opportunity, we might put through, but they are both Bills of a non-contentious character. Then there are two others, Nos. 21 and 22, which I should like very much to get through, and I hope the House will be in such a frame of mind as to allow us to get these two through; but if I find the House is unreasonable, probably we shall leave them. But there are a few others. There is the Miners’ Phthisis Bill, which is not on the Order List, and the Superannuation Bill, as hon. members know, and the Railway Construction Bill. Then there is the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, which will be out of Committee to-morrow. I hear the Select Committee has been very good over this law’, and it may get through the House swimmingly. Then I have the South-West Africa Constitution, and for the rest there will be simply the financial matters. I hope that after this the House will feel we are not going to be unreasonable in detaining them too long.
I should like to ask the Prime Minister to give us a little more information. Could he give us some idea as to when this short session is going to come to a conclusion, and whether it is his intention to spring any more Bills on the House as has been done from day to day, and whether the Bills latterly sprung on the House were a joke, and that it was never the intention that the Government should be asked to tackle them this session. There is one Bill on the Order Paper which the Prime Minister has not referred to—the Land Settlements Relief Bill. Is it the intention of the Minister of Lands to go on with that?
I would like to keep that Bill for an odd moment. I think the House has more or less agreed upon that. I would like to get it through. I am sorry not to be able to say when I think the House will rise. It will very much depend on our good co-operation in this House, and I hope by the commencement of August we may be able to leave.
Motion put and agreed to.
First Order read: Provincial Subsidies and Taxation Powers (Amendment) Bill, as amended in Committee of the Whole House, to be considered.
On Clause 1,
The draughtsman pointed out that it was desirable to have a definition of normal tax. Advantage has been taken of the amendment to make it clearer that premium incomes are excluded from taxation by the provincial council. The alteration in line 13 is merely a verbal one, but it will improve the section to a considerable extent.
Amendment put and agreed to.
On Clause 2,
Amendments on page I agreed to.
The amendment is a drafting one calculated to make plainer what has given rise to some difficulty. The Minister whom I have seen on the matter, agrees that the change is an improvement.
I accept that.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Remaining amendments put and agreed to. Amendments in Clause 3 put and agreed to.
On Clause 6,
I wish to discuss subsection (7) of Clause 2. I did not understand that it had been passed.
We have already passed Clause 1, but as there has been a misunderstanding, I will allow the hon. member to proceed.
I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will reconsider the position created as the result of the amendment he has himself moved to sub-section (7). The position of the Transvaal Provincial Council is not improved under this amendment. In the original clause the employers’ tax remains with the provincial council, but the Minister provided that where the provincial council secured any revenue from the mining companies through that tax to that extent the education subsidy would be restricted. In the amendment the tax is restricted to one year, but the proviso in favour of the mining companies remains. The origin of the employers’ tax must be taken into consideration. It was imposed because the late Government took away from the provincial council the right to tax gold mining companies’ profits, and consequently the Transvaal Provincial Council said—
I am not at all sure which position is the worse. The South African party Government came with a bribe and said to the provincial council—
Now the Minister comes with a threat and says—
The Transvaal Provincial Council is thus worse off than it was before. It is not a question of whether the employers’ tax is a good or bad one, but of a source of revenue having been taken away from the provincial council which was imposed as a substitute for another form of taxation taken away from the council by the late Government. If the Minister insists on the amendment, he should restore the rights of the provincial council to tax gold profits. The Minister defended his proposal on the ground that there should not be double taxation. But the ordinary citizen in receipt of an income of £300 a year or more is subjected to double taxation, and it is surely unfair and unreasonable to allow double taxation as far as the poor man is concerned, but to refuse it in the case of the gold mines. There is a further point. We gathered the impression that whatever appears in the Bill is the result of an arrangement which the Minister of Finance made with the provincial executives at the conference in Durban. Only a few weeks ago a resolution was submitted by the South African party in the Transvaal Provincial Council thanking the Government for having adopted the provisions of the Baxter Report, and I was glad to find that the Nationalist and Labour members of the provincial council had the backbone to refuse to thank the Government for adopting the Baxter Report, which we have always criticized and opposed Now the question I want to put to the Minister is whether, when he spoke about these provisions being made by arrangement with the executive, he referred to the whole executive, or to the executive as a majority. Mr. George Hills was present in Durban as representative of the Labour party in the provincial council, and he was opposed to this provision in favour of the mining companies. I would like to know whether the whole of the Transvaal executive were parties to the agreement, or only the majority. We must remember that the executive in the Transvaal consists of four members, two members of the National party, and two members of the South African party and the Administrator, by his vote makes the majority. If it is the majority, then we know that this recommendation is the recommendation of the Administrator of the Transvaal, who was part author of the Baxter Report. If it was the united wish of the executive, including the two Nationalists, it is only fair to us that we should know that the National party as a whole in the Transvaal was responsible for this alteration, and that it was acceptable to them. We have had the rafters ringing with denunciation of the Baxter Report, and the Minister was one of its ablest opponents, and so I would like the Minister to answer my question, and to also take into serious consideration whether even at this late stage he should not restore the equilibrium.
I am glad this matter has been brought before the Minister because those of us who have sat a number of years in this House can remember the whittling away of the rights of the provincial council, particularly in the Transvaal. It is only a matter of three years ago when they took away the rights of the provincial council to tax gold profits in the Transvaal and I remember, as a result, the heated debates that took place and the feeling that existed. Under our present Government they are whittling them away in a different manner. In this sub-section the Government say if you raise money in that direction our subsidy will be cut down accordingly. It is a very peculiar difference and would not bear examination in so far as the method adopted when the previous Government took the right from the Transvaal province with regard to the taxing of gold profits. I see no difference in that position and the position we have to-day under this sub-section. The Transvaal people, when it comes to provincial matters, when the position sinks into them that they have to be taxed, will realize that they are still being kept back. Every other section of the community in the various provinces is subject to double taxation, but when it comes to the gold mines you say no, they must be kept apart, and the provincial council have no right to raise taxation from that source. The people who work in the gold mines are doubly taxed, but in the case of the gold mines it gives permission to tax but says if you do so we shall reduce our subsidy. What is the use of attempting to raise money in this direction under those circumstances. The position is difficult to understand and I would like the Minister to explain. The feeling in Johannesburg, judging by the various people who have spoken after the budget speech had been made, was that the gold mines were well satisfied that the Government had introduced no new taxation as far as mining was concerned. They were pleased with the position, but on top of that, the Government is giving the mines a further relief, in so far as the employers’ tax is concerned in provincial legislation. By this most extraordinary way of giving and taking they are making a further present of relief to the mines, and every bit of relief is a further burden on the great mass of the individual and commercial taxpayers in the country. The subject is not finished with in this debate and the position must arise in the Transvaal during the next six months and during the next provincial election. It affects them more than the Government realize and I hope the Minister will take the matter into further consideration.
I expected that this sub-section (7) would have been put specifically. We are satisfied that the assets of the Transvaal should come into the common pool, we are used to that now, and perhaps we should make no special claim in regard to the revenue which comes from the Transvaal in such a large proportion; but, having conceded this, we certainly have the right to point out that an injustice is done on top of it which cannot be defended. I hope the Transvaal members will awaken to the seriousness of the question. There is an opinion in certain quarters that as the mines are realized of £180.000 a year everybody should be delighted, but they overlook the fact that the bulk of that money is going overseas—to the extent of 87 per cent. £150,000 is to be made a present of to overseas people, and in the former cancelling of the gold profits tax the British Government picked up what we threw away. That is one aspect of the question, but I want to draw attention to the actual injustice of this deduction. The subsidy is reckoned for the provinces on a per capita basis, and therefore on this basis each province is entitled to the same fair proportion. We find other provinces get it in full, and more than in full in some cases, but the per capita calculation to which the Transvaal is entitled is lessened by £180,000. Is that fair? Just look how that works out. First, I want to point out that in regard to this particular employers tax on the mines for educational purposes, we educate at least 75,000 children of people employed on the mines and, surely, while those children are there and that asset is being worked out it is not too much to ask that we should take from the mines £180,000, which is spent on the miners’ children, and now must be raised in some other way. Let us see how the matter stands in regard to the various provinces. If you take the Cape you find that their educational requirements on their estimates for this year amount to £2,745,000 and their subsidy is £2,258,000, so that they get 82 per cent. of subsidy for their educational requirements. The Orange Free State estimates for the year amounted to £825,000, and they get £765,000 subsidy, or 93 per cent. of their total educational requirements. In Natal the estimated requirements amount to £668,000 and the subsidy is £547,000, or 82 per cent. of their total educational expenditure. The Transvaal requires £2,750,000, and receives a subsidy of £1,807,000 less £180,000, leaving £1,627,000, so that their subsidy is only 60 per cent. of their educational requirements. So we give Natal 33 per cent. on this per capita basis more than we give the Transvaal, and the O.F.S. 50 per cent. more. Is it fair that the Transvaal should have to raise 40 per cent., when other provinces have to raise so little comparatively? Let me put the position in another way. The Cape have to raise 18 per cent. of their educational requirements by taxation, the O.F.S. 7 per cent., Natal 18 per cent., and the Transvaal 40 per cent. I ask hon. members for the Transvaal how they are going to face the Transvaal people and say—
Transvaal members on both sides of the House should realize their responsibility in regard to this matter. Natal gets a subsidy on a per capita basis, plus a grant of £75,000, and the Orange Free State gets its subsidy on a per capita basis, plus £75,000, but there is no plus anything for the Transvaal, it is a minus as far as that province is concerned. I think nobody approaching this in a fair spirit could defend for a moment that we should be subjected to this deduction where two other provinces enjoy special additional grants. The Cape has another distinct advantage in its church and private schools. Owing to this inclusion it gets from the common treasury £600,000 a year more than the Transvaal obtains. Surely we will contest this inequality. Hon. members will remember the fight that was put up by the Cape for a question of £4,000.
We did not fight for the money; we fought for the principle.
As a matter of fact they put up a wonderful fight on the principle that they should get as much out of the general revenue as it was possible to get out of it. There is no high principle in a private school getting the Government money and remaining a private school.
The hon. member must confine himself to the sub-section before the House.
That great principle comes in in regard to fairness with reference to the appropriation of the subsidies from the general revenue, and how the Transvaal has been treated. I think the case has been made out perfectly in regard to this robbery—because it is absolute robbery of what the Transvaal is entitled to. How there can be any defence, on a question of justice, for taking £180,000 off this subsidy, I cannot tell; but it commends itself to some members of this House, because they think it is a relief to the mining companies of that amount, and their one obsession is not to tax the mines, an asset which belongs to the country itself. This particular question goes beyond that altogether. We had a right to tax the mines even in such a way as the unpopular and perhaps indefensible employers’ tax, but it was put on definitely to make the mines pay something towards education, and now the Minister of Finance comes in and virtually says—
Let me put the position to the members for the Cape. They have a land tax, they call it an immovable property tax, it is a tax on fixed property, including land. Why does not the Government say to the Cape—
It seems to me that if the Government said to the Cape that if they raised £205,000 a year from a property tax, as it does, their subsidy would be reduced to a like amount, that would, on the same principle, be poetic justice. No, the Transvaal alone is selected to be thus victimized. I can only say that I do not envy Transvaal members when they return to the Transvaal and tell their constituents who have sent them to represent them that they stood by silently while injustice went on. At any rate, there are some of us whose consciences are clear, who can say that we pleaded for fair play from the Union representatives.
Your resolution is—
As a representative of a Transvaal constituency I am not trembling as to what will happen to me when I go back, but I would like to make this clear, as far as taxing the mining industry is concerned. I am of opinion that the first charge on that industry are the men employed in the industry. We cannot have it both ways. The argument is to-day that the mines cannot pay more wages, they cannot have better hours, because the grade of ore is fixed. Some of the high-grade mines are making enormous profits. Speaking entirely for myself, I hope the Government will do all they can to see that the wages, hours and conditions of the men employed in the mines receive first consideration from the Government.
We are not discussing that just now.
We are discussing the question—at least I understood so from what the previous speaker said—as to whether the mines should or should not be allowed to escape from this £180,000 per year. I am putting my position. As far as this particular question is concerned I believe we will advance if we direct our attention more towards taxing idleness in the country instead of taxing industry. My position is clear; I believe the first call on any industry is the men employed in the industry. The men who are getting phthisis down below are entitled to the first consideration from the Government. I am not prepared to take up an attitude of a parochial nature. I am not concerned with what Natal is getting, or what the Cape is getting, or anything else. If we have a just claim let us fight for it, but not just because we think the other fellow is getting a little more than ourselves. Let us get away from this parochial spirit. Let us look at it from a national point of view, as a national body, dealing with national affairs.
I don’t think that is quite the point. No one who has advocated taxing the employers of the mines suggests that it should be at the expense of the men engaged in the industry. We still press for better conditions and better wages for the men employed in the mines, but at the same time we say that if the provincial council of the Transvaal desires to tax in the form we are discussing they should have the right to do so; but there is an actual negation of that tax by the Minister reducing the subsidy correspondingly. That is the point. It is just another form of precisely what he and his friends and our friends, when we were in opposition, argued. When the ex-Minister of Finance brought in a Bill to take away from the provinces and the Transvaal the right to tax the gold mines profits we were all up in arms, the present Minister himself not the least. He was our champion, our guiding and shining star. He led the attack, and most cleverly and successfully he carried it through. We supported him loyally. Why the alteration in the point of view? Surely there is no difference in principle to-day? None at all. I would suggest to him that he should be consistent. If you say to the Transvaal: “You may tax, but we shall take away from your subsidy the amount,” in effect you say to them: “You are not to tax.” There is no essential difference between the attitude of the ex-Minister of Finance and the present Minister. I want to know what has happened since he led the attack with such signal success.
The hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay) in discussing this amendment said there was an injustice and victimization of the Transvaal. I do not think that is quite fair at all. It is true that, under this arrangement, the smaller provinces get an extra grant, but that has been so all along. It has been so because every Government realized it was only fair that it should be taken into consideration that they are not in the same advantageous position as the big provinces, and unless you can assign to them other sources of revenue it is necessary for the central Government to give an extra grant. The individual budgets of these provinces were examined, and if you take the Natal and Orange Free State budgets, it must be clear that they could not carry out the functions entrusted to them under the South Africa Act, unless such special arrangement was made. Outside of that I do not think the hon. member can point to anything where the Transvaal is worse off than any other province; in fact they get this capitation grant on a higher basis than any other. There are many people who think this differentiation should not be made. We have adopted this policy of discrimination between the provinces because it has been assumed that the cost of living is higher in the northern provinces, but there are many who think the Transvaal should not have been put in this favourable position. What is the position in regard to this employers’ tax? I have informed the House as to what took place at Durban. There, in examining the individual budgets of these provinces, after coming to an arrangement, we found that the Transvaal did not require this tax. We gave them the pass fees which, according to the Baxter report, should not have been given them. When this provision had been made, everybody agreed that adequate financial provision had been made for the Transvaal without scheduling this tax, and I did not intend to schedule it. But then it was represented to me that, on account of the attitude which the party had taken up in the Transvaal in regard to this tax, they would prefer to retain it. That was considered by the Government, and people who were supposed to be representative of the Transvaal Provincial Council gave their views, and it was pointed out that the Transvaal would have to surrender something else, as they could not have the tax and the subsidy, which would have placed the Transvaal in a better position than anybody else. Eventually, I agreed. I said I would recognize the situation as it existed, and although it would be unsound, we would allow the Transvaal to have this tax, but that the subsidy would have to be diminished accordingly, and that is what took place. Subsequently, the Transvaal Provincial Council said they would rather have their subsidy. I said—
after I have framed my estimates and submitted them to Parliament, and it was agreed that this year, if I did not schedule the tax, it would disappear; but they would be able to leave it till next year. Otherwise I would not have legislated in this fashion, by laying down that if they taxed the mines, their subsidy would be decreased. That was not with a view to preventing them taxing the employers. I said—
I can understand the Transvaal saying—
But, as I have pointed out, the Government agrees that it will be most undesirable to allow the Transvaal Provincial Council to levy this gold tax. We agreed that it is desirable that a tax on the gold mines should only be levied by the central Government. The hon. member says—
I would have liked to have double taxation, but you cannot do that, except in the case of income tax. Otherwise the provinces would not have been able to get the necessary revenues, but we should limit an evil as much as possible. The hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) says I have altered my attitude in regard to this matter, but on a previous occasion, when I opposed the offer made by my predecessor to prevent the Transvaal Provincial Council taxing the gold mines, I did so on the principle that it was undesirable for the central Government to tamper with the constitutional rights of the provinces. They, at the same time, limited the subsidies. I have never contested the soundness of the idea that, if at all possible, you should reserve this form of taxation to the central Government. We have made a new arrangement with the provinces, by consent. I have said I have done nothing in connection with the curtailing of the rights of the provinces without their consent, and they have agreed it was not unfair to ask from them, in view of the increased subsidies we were giving, that they should give up something. That is what we have done. Under this arrangement, the central Government pays an increased amount of subsidy, and under these circumstances it was not unfair to ask them to surrender something. I am sorry I cannot agree to the province getting this right to tax the gold mines. If the gold mines do not carry their own proper burden to-day, that is a matter for the central Government to consider, in case of future taxation. That is a source that must be left open to the central Government to exploit, if necessary. Hon. members will, therefore, see that it is not fair to speak of an injustice having been done to the Transvaal. If you examine the budgets of all the provinces, you will see they have all been dealt with fairly, and given sufficient for their immediate needs, and every province has been given a certain margin of sources of taxation, and these are lines on which we have gone, as a solution of this very difficult question.
I beg to move the amendment of which I have given notice, viz.—
The effect of deleting the second portion of the section was merely to have what appears in the existing legislation, and consequently it is better now to omit the whole Clause 6.
Amendment put and agreed to.
On Clause 8,
On Clause 10,
Omission, of paragraph (a) of sub-section (4) put and agreed to.
I am not moving any of the amendments in my name in regard to Clause 10, viz.—
In line 34, to omit “sub-section” and to substitute “section”; in lines 35 to 38, to omit all the words after “of” down to “Act.” and to substitute “Transvaal Ordinance No. 8 of 1923 except in so far as that Ordinance imposes taxation on the premiums of life insurance companies.”; to convert the amendment in lines 38 to 45 made in Committee of the Whole House into a new sub-section (5); in line 39, to omit “this”; in the same line, after “sub-section” to insert “(4)”; in line 41. after “shall” to insert “mutatis mutandis”; and in lines 43 to 45, to omit all the words after “tax” down to “Province”. On the substitution of new paragraph (a).
The omission of paragraph (b) of sub-section (4) put and agreed to.
The substitution of new paragraph (b), put and negatived.
- (b) in the case of a tax in respect of any company (other than a mutual life insurance company) not more than sixpence for each pound of such portion of its taxable income as the Commissioner for Inland Revenue or any officer acting on his behalf determines to have been derived from a source within the Province; but a minimum tax not exceeding five pounds may be imposed in respect, of any such company.
I withdraw my amendment on this clause, viz.—
- (c) in the case of licences in respect of the importation for sale within the Province of goods beyond the borders of the Union not more than the sum of three hundred pounds in respect of anyone importer.
as the Minister’s amendment practically covers it.
May I be permitted to congratulate the Minister on withdrawing the dividend tax as it appeared in sub-section (b). Any attempt to enable the provincial councils to tax companies’ dividends would have resulted in numerous difficulties. One cannot allocate dividends in the same way as you can income tax. The Transvaal imposes a tax on the dividends of companies, whether the companies are registered there, carrying on business there, or even if they have only one office there. If the other provinces followed suit we should have the same companies paying dividend tax in all four provinces.
As regards the Minister’s amendment I agree with the last speaker that the deletion of the words relating to the dividend tax very much clarifies the whole of the clause. I suggest that now the dividend tax has been got out of the way the wording of the clause relating to companies should be similar to the wording in subsection (a) relating to individuals. The original intention of the Minister was to allow 6d. in the £ as a maximum, that being 20 per cent. of 2s. 6d. I suggest that we had better retain 20 per cent., so that if the rate is altered in the future it will always be the same proportion of the Union tax, and also exactly the same as the tax on individuals. I don’t think the Minister’ appreciates the difference between a tax which an individual pays if he were a shareholder in a company and the tax he pays if he draws his income from any other source. If a man derives an income of £500 a year from general sources he will pay £25 10s. 5d. per annum in income tax, but if he derives the same income from public companies he will pay £62 10s. 0d. a year—that is more than double the amount paid by a man whose income is obtained from mortgage bonds and so on. The sum of £62 10s. 0d. is a ridiculous tax on an income of £500 a year: instead of being a tax on a man’s ability to pay, this really seems to be based on a man’s inability to pay. I, therefore, urge the Minister to make it quite clear in this Bill that the taxation on a man deriving his income from limited liability companies is exactly the same as a man whose income is obtained from any other form of investment. I move as an amendment to the Minister’s amendment in sub-section (b)—
I hope the hon. member will not press his amendment, because I cannot accept it. I have taken the sixpence because that is the tax at present payable in respect of incomes of companies in the Transvaal. He will see how we have tried to deal with the difficulties. We are reserving to the Transvaal their special orders in regard to companies, but we don’t do it in regard to the others I cannot depart from the sixpence. We are not levying the tax here, it is open to the provinces to say to what extent they will tax companies or other classes of people. I hope he will not press it.
The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has an amendment.
I withdraw that, viz.—
Amendment proposed by Mr. Stuttaford put and negatived.
New paragraph (b), proposed by the Minister of Finance, put and agreed to.
Do I understand the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) is not moving his amendment?
I am not moving any amendment to section 10 in view of the Minister’s amendment.
Amendment proposed by the Minister of Finance put and agreed to.
On the amendment in lines 55 to 61,
There is an amendment in line 57 which is not on the Order Paper. I want to move—
Amendment, as amended, put and agreed to.
I wish to move—
- (7) Nothing in this Act contained shall be deemed to repeal or amend any provision of Ordinance No. 8 of 1923 (Transvaal) in so far as it relates to a tax on the dividends of financial companies, but it shall be competent for the provincial council of the Transvaal to repeal, re-enact or amend such provision; provided that such tax may not be increased above one shilling in the pound of dividends distributed or be imposed on companies other than financial companies as defined in the said Ordinance at the commencement of this Act.
On Clause 12,
On the new sub-section (I),
On the first amendment on Clause 12, I want to move—
You will remember that when the amendment moved by the hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thos. Watt) was brought forward, it was understood that a deputation from the provincial council and the Natal municipal associations would be able to meet the Minister and discuss the deadlock to which they had come in connection with the disposal of the Natal licensing revenues, They made a request to the Minister for an interview for a joint deputation, because it was felt that a possible solution of the deadlock might be reached by further discussion. We hoped that the Minister would have been able to grant such an interview, but he has replied that he—
The object of my present amendment is to give these bodies, referred to by the Minister as the proper bodies to settle this matter, an opportunity of settling it in a proper manner, that is without the intervention of the Union Parliament, and solely through the instrumentality of the Natal Provincial Council. We have complained all along that the Minister, in legislating to take away these revenues, has been invading the province of the provincial council, and that, whatever action fell to be taken in the way of deciding upon the disposal of these revenues should have been left to the provincial council itself, and we felt sure that, if that were done, a solution mutually satisfactory to the local authorities and the provincial council would be reached. The present position in which the Minister declines to meet these bodies is one which has given rise to a recrudescence of the acute feeling previously existing between the local authorities and the provincial executive, because the provincial executive is being blamed for having entered into an arrangement with the Minister at the Durban conference, which resulted in the forfeiture of the revenues of the local authorities to the provincial council. There is considerable dispute as to what took place at the Durban conference, and I hope that some minutes of the proceedings at that conference are existent, so that the Minister will be able to tell us once for all what really happened and who was responsible for the forfeiture of these revenues. We had a statement by the hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) to the effect that the provincial executive of Natal were the people who asked that this should be done, or were a consenting party to these revenues being taken away in the manner proposed in this Bill, but Mr. Russell, who is a member of the executive, has spoken very clearly on the subject—
Now that is an express and specific declaration on the part of Mr. Russell who, as a member of the executive, was present, I understand, at this interview at the Durban conference. I do not wish to challenge what has been said by the Minister in this House on the subject, but I do plead that this is a matter which should properly be left to the provincial council and the municipal associations, as the Minister suggests in his telegram. Although, under the Financial Relations Act of 1922, Natal is entitled to a subsidy of £30,000 per annum up to the year 1927, we do not propose to press for payment of this sum up to the year 1927 if the Minister will now agree to leave this matter, as is proposed in my amendment, to an ordinance of the provincial council. Then the provincial council authorities will determine if they have a sufficient majority in the council, of course, whether they will forfeit these licences, and the effect of that would be much the same as that contemplated by the hon. member for Dundee. If the provincial council does not act in that manner, the local authorities will be able to retain their licences, to the benefit of local government. The present action of the Minister has been a very severe blow to local government in Natal. In some of the smaller municipalities they are dependent for the bulk of their revenue upon the licensing fees. The taking away of these revenues has done a great dis-service to the cause of local government throughout the province. Those are the reasons that I urge upon the Minister in bringing forward this amendment, and I hope, on re-consideration of the whole matter, that he will agree that this is the best solution of the question. As the clause stands, the Minister has agreed—and we appreciate his consideration in the matter—that this clause shall be suspended until a proclamation is issued by the Governor-General. The effect of my amendment will be to leave the enforcement of this clause to the passing of an ordinance by the provincial council, which seems to be the more constitutional course.
The amendment does not seem to read right, somehow.
I will just alter the wording. I now propose that the amendment should read as follows—
I desire to second the proposal of the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick). I am sorry it is necessary to raise this matter anew, after the very lengthy discussion that we had on the second reading and in committee, but since the last occasion I have been back to Natal and I can assure the Minister that there is a considerable amount of feeling in regard to this matter, not only with reference to the incidence of the proposal, but also as to the statements which have been made in reference to the concurrence of the members of the executive committee in the action which the Minister has taken. The hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) has referred to the disclaimer that has already been published by Mr. Russell. I may say that I also had an interview with another member of the executive committee, and as the result of that conversation there appears to have been, to say the least of it, a misunderstanding. I am not aware whether the Minister himself stated that this matter was introduced with the full concurrence of the administration, but unquestionably the hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn), in an interview which he accorded to the “Natal Witness,” undoubtedly said that the Natal provincial administration had definitely asked the Minister of Finance to take these licences away from the municipalities, and the Minister agreed to their request. This is a very important statement, emanating from a representative of one of the principal towns in Natal, and, of course, if it is true, we can understand the attitude of the Minister in being reluctant to make any concession. Where the hon. gentleman got his information from I do not know, but as the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) has pointed out, Mr. Russel has denied the authenticity of the statement, and I understand that another member also denied that it is correct. Under these circumstances, and as it is a matter of such vital importance, surely the Minister would be well advised to leave this question for decision by the provincial council alone. The Minister has made one concession, that this provision should not come into operation until it has been proclaimed, before the 31st December. Surely it would be a better system if the Minister would consider what is now asked for, and let the provincial council deal with this matter themselves. If the provincial council take the law into their own hands, and if they desire to deprive the principal towns of this source of revenue, well and good: but the Minister must feel that to nut a further burden on a town like Durban, that is paying no less than 60 per cent. of the provincial taxation, and to impose additional responsibility, increasing it to something like 80 per cent. is a serious position for the people of Durban, at any rate, and for other towns, to have to face. The hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) made a debating point of the fact that the members of this executive committee in Natal are mainly South African party supporters. Well, all good people in Natal are supporters of the South African party, but that is no reason, assuming these facts were true, that one should persist in imposing what unquestionably is a grave wrong. Now that there has been a direct denial by Mr. Russel, and now that there is some uncertainty as to what the wishes of the provincial council exactly are, I think the best method would be to adopt the view of the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) and give the provincial councils, as a whole, the opportunity of deciding how these licence moneys should be dealt with, or whether they should be taken away in the form which is proposed.
I hope the Minister will clear up this point. I have re-read the speeches of the Minister, and also the statement by the member of the Natal executive on the point. Mr. Russel, as far as I can see, does not deny that he concurred in the action of the Minister. All he states is that he was not prepared, as a member of the executive, or the executive were not prepared, on their own, to do it, but as far as I can understand, they were quite prepared to allow the Minister to do the job for them. I understand, also, that this Bill is an agreed Bill; that the provincial executive of Natal has approved of this Bill, and that the executive is responsible for the contents of the Bill. Was this done over the heads of the protesting executive of Natal, or was it done with their concurrence? If the Minister will settle that point, we shall know exactly where we are.
Since the hon. member for Umbilo, who has just spoken, has asked the Minister of Finance to clear up this point, I should like to refer to his own statement in a Natal paper, where he apparently cleared up the position himself. He said—
I do not see, therefore, why the hon. member should now ask the Minister to give an explanation on this point.
I disagree with the statement made by the hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) that the Natal Provincial Council were quite willing that these revenues would be taken away, provided the Minister would undertake to pass the necessary legislation.
I did not say that.
In doing so I am fortified by a statement made by a responsible member of the executive of the provincial council of Natal, namely, Mr. Russel. The attitude which the members of the executive appear to have taken up is that if these municipal revenues were to be taken away that the municipalities should be compensated. That is apparently the attitude of the executive of the Natal Provincial Council, who have not been a consenting party to the legislation as introduced by the Minister under which the municipalities in Natal are to be deprived of these revenues without compensation. Not only the executive, but the whole of the province of Natal, does not favour this legislation. There is abundant evidence that the Natal municipal association, which represents the whole of the local authorities in Natal, are opposed to it. There is the statement of Mr. Russel, a member of the executive of the Natal Provincial Council, which I intend to refer to briefly and which clearly shows that the Natal Provincial Council is not in favour of this legislation unless compensation is granted. This is what Mr. Russel stated. He said that the acting-administrator was hand tied and tongue tied, so to speak, as he was the official head of the province. That, however, did not apply to him (Mr. Russel). He proceeded to give an outline of the interview (that is, the Durban conference), which the executive had with the Minister of Finance, and said that the impression the executive gained from the interview was that the Union Government had decided that Natal’s policy with regard to municipal licensing revenue, should be amended, and that the provincial council should have the money—
That does not only conclusively show that the provincial executive of Natal is opposed to the annexation of these revenues, without compensation, but also that the Minister of Finance, when he attended that conference in Durban, went with the settled policy to deprive the municipalities of these revenues. The hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) has stated that he would like the Minister to clear up the misunderstanding and confusion that exists as to who initiated this policy, and I would like to say that it is the hon. member for Umbilo, himself, who, I think, is mainly responsible. I would just like to refer to a telegram he sent which has not been referred to by previous speakers, which is clearly misleading. He sent a wire to the Durban municipality as follows, on May 13th—
He said so.
Well, I would like to ask the Minister whether he authorized that telegram to be sent.
And, at the same time, whether he authorized the subsequent telegram sent by the hon. member for Umbilo, which, I think, has been read. I would like the Minister to say, also, whether he authorized the statement made by the hon. member for Umbilo and published in the “Natal Witness” in the form of an interview, as follows—
Contrast this statement with that made by Mr. Russell. Whatever happens to this amendment, it is due to the people of Natal to be told who is responsible for initiating this policy. I venture to assert that the Minister left Pretoria to attend the conference in Durban with the settled policy to deprive the municipalities of those revenues, and I say so for good reason. In the first place, the Minister made a statement in reply to the request by the acting Administrator for Natal that he should grant an interview to a joint deputation composed of representatives of the Natal Municipal Association and the Natal Provincial Council. The Minister refused to accede to that request, and this is the reason he gave—
Then, at a later stage, when the deputation waited on the Minister at Pretoria, he said that he was busy, and did not have much time at his disposal, as he had to attend a cabinet meeting at 3 p.m. Accordingly, in order to shorten the proceedings, he announced that the Government had decided upon its policy, which was to annex the Natal municipal licensing revenue, and to transfer the same to the Natal Provincial Council. That is plain language.
Who said that?
That is what the Minister is reported to have stated.
Whose report is it?
The report of one of the deputation. If it is not correct, the Minister will have an opportunity of correcting it in a few minutes.
I am afraid the hon. member is getting away from the amendment. He cannot go into matters that were discussed on the second reading.
My object in referring to this is to show that it would have been far better for the Minister to have left this matter to be decided between the Provincial Council and the Natal Municipal Association because there is a great deal of misunderstanding, and the people of Natal do not know who is responsible for the step that has been taken, and they are opposed to the forcing through this House of a measure depriving them of their rights without being consulted.
I must say I do not know why there is all this trouble, in view of the attitude I was prepared to adopt in regard to this matter. Hon. members from Natal seem to think that I did not want this matter to be settled between the provincial authorities and the local authorities in Natal. When the hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) moved his amendment, which we are now debating, I accepted it with the very object of giving them a chance to come to some agreement, and I have undertaken not to put this into force until they have had ample opportunity to decide the matter for themselves. I cannot go further. I undertook, when at Durban to introduce the legislation I am now introducing. The amendment is to attain the same object as the hon. member seeks to obtain. It is difficult, in this matter, to ascertain who speaks for Natal. There seems to be a good deal of unanimity among members of Parliament in this House, but in this matter I have to deal with the Natal provincial authorities. I have made an agreement with them. If they tell me to-day that they do not want this legislation put into force, I do not want to do so. The hon. member complains of a telegram sent by the hon. member for Umbilo, and asked whether I authorized it. I never authorized any particular telegram, but I did make that statement, and he was at liberty to make use of it. If the people who are supposed to speak in this matter for Natal will tell me they do not want these licenses taken away, the local authorities will be able to retain them.
You have only dealt with the executive.
This consolidated licensing ordinance will not take effect until January 21st, 1926, and there will be ample time for the Natal Provincial Council to deal with the matter before then.
No, provided that you did not deal with any matter which produces revenue.
Surely if the provincial council passes the resolution that this shall not be done the executive will act in accordance? I now gather the complaint is that I am overriding the provincial executive.
We don’t want to go into that.
I don’t want to go into the controversy between the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) and Mr. Russel, but I do want to meet the charge that I am forcing on to the Natal provincial executive that which they don’t want. There was one thing I had definitely made up my mind upon and that was that I was not going to continue the special grant of £30,000 to Natal, but when I laid that down at the conference the Natal people naturally said that would be unfair to them because they had not the licensing fees which the other provinces had. I said that I would let them have the licences. I have been asked to introduce this legislation making for uniformity in licences, and I said that in introducing that I would provide for these licences to go to Natal.
The commission recommends compensation.
The commission merely pointed out that in Pietermaritzburg and Durban the cost of the police was paid for by these two boroughs. I said the Union Government was quite prepared to carry out its liability in regard to the police. I wish to read to the House extracts from the summary of the proceedings at the Durban conference and you will then see how the matter was dealt with and that I am not forcing on the executive something they don’t care for. After I discussed the matter with the executive committees in private we gathered at an open meeting and I then addressed the conference and laid down more or less the points on which I thought agreement had been arrived at and what I was prepared to recommend to the Government. A report of that portion of the proceedings was taken, and I will read the following extract—
Sir George Plowman: Liquor licences in Natal are in the hands of the local authorities. If the position is left as it is it would prejudicially affect Natal.
The Minister: We will take whatever legal steps may be necessary to give you these licences. If we drop the turnover it may be possible that you may want to increase all the licences.
Sir George Plowman: I think that there should be equality of treatment all round in regard to these licences.
The Minister: Except that I understand in the case of liquor licences Mr. Hofmeyr does not want uniformity.
Sir George Plowman: If the liquor licences are retained by the provincial administrations in the other three provinces and no power is given to Natal.
The Minister: But that will follow. Whatever the position is as regards the liquor licences I intend to do the same in Natal.
Sir Frederic de Waal: If they are left to Parliament they may be reduced.
The Minister: Is there any principle on which you think trade licences should be uniform outside liquor licences? Why should not liquor licences be uniform?
Mr. Hofmeyr; Trading licences are registration fees.
Mr. Retief: I think if you leave the liquor licences where they are to-day and give them whatever they raise and thereafter leave it to the Union, as it is a question to be dealt with by the Union Government.
Sir George Plowman: In Natal we have the right under the Act to deal with liquor licences in rural areas only.
The Minister: Would you like the Union Government to make them uniform?
Sir George Plowman: I think it would be right for the Government to arrive at standardization.
The Minister: If there is no unanimity on the question, I am not going to tackle the point.
That was, if they could not agree, that I should deal with the liquor licences. After having made this full statement each of the Administrators said what they thought of the proceedings and the agreement that had been arrived at. I ought to read what the Administrator of Natal said in the presence of the representatives of Natal. Sir George Plowman said—
In the face of that, how can hon. members say I am forcing down the throats of the Natal people something which they don’t want? Power is left in this Bill to the Government not to bring the matter into force until the Natal people have had an opportunity of going into the agreement, and not’ until Natal tells me that it will hold me to my bargain will I bring this into effect.
Amendment put and negatived. Amendment, as printed, put and agreed to. Remaining amendments put and agreed to.
On clause 13,
Amendments put and agreed to.
New clause 14 and amendments in clause 17 put and agreed to.
On first schedule,
Amendment in item 7 put and agreed to.
The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) has some amendments.
I don’t think he presses them.
Amendments in item 8 put and negatived.
- (a) upon the income or
- (b) where no tax is imposed under paragraph (a) a fax not exceeding five pounds
Omission of item 11 put and agreed to.
Might I ask why this is put in’ It has been represented to me by the small importers that this is a serious thing as far as they are concerned because it gives a great advantage to the large importers. Why is there not a percentage in regard to importations’ Why should importers not pay according to the amount they import?
This House is not enacting the tax. We have said this will be a source of revenue, and we are limiting it because at present it is the maximum tax of the Cape Province. As far as putting it on a percentage basis is concerned it is a matter for the Cape Province.
Will they be able to do it as a result of this legislation?
They cannot go higher than the tax is at present, but they can alter it as much as they like.
The whole thing should be on an equal percentage basis; but it is going to be that however large the imports of a particular firm may be that that firm will only pay a maximum of £310? We want the percentage to run right through, otherwise it “giveth to him who hath”. Supposing one firm has a profit of £100,000 a year and another £5,000 a year. The latter, when it reaches the limit, pays the same as the greater.
It is not on profits.
I mention profits to illustrate the case. You are making a present to the big firm which will say to their customers “We can sell cheaper; because we can give you the advantage we receive.” Weight of taxation should be proportionate to those able to bear it, and there should be no reaching of a limit for the big man. It is indefensible. Here we have the principle accepted by the Minister of the rich man coming in and saying “Because I am a rich man, importing to this greater extent, give me an advantage against my small competitor.” Surely the Minister is not going to say that he will give to those who, because they are monster importers, are going to enjoy a limitation. It is not fair, and I think the Minister will see that. I hope there will be no question about treating all alike. If it is 1 per cent. on imports, or whatever else it is, make it the same right through. We ask for a fair and square deal, and that the small man should live, but to accept an amendment like this is once more playing into the hands of big financiers.
Anyone who listened to the last speaker (Mr. Hay) would imagine that he was speaking, not on the floor of this House, but elsewhere, with the object of working up what might be called “a capitalistic stunt”. What he has overlooked is that this amendment fixes no scale whatever. It merely lays down a certain basis, and leaves it entirely to the provincial council to deal with that as it may think fit.
But it lays down a limitation.
There is a limitation, it is true, but it does not follow that because there is a limitation it is not possible for the provincial council to take into account the case of the small importer, who may not import more than £1,500 or £2,000 or £3.000 worth of goods a year. It will be quite possible for them to have an exemption up to £1,500. To-day the exemption is £1,200. The hon. member might have found it possible to get a certain amount of sympathy from those who think that the minimum exemption has not been in the Cape Province, where alone this licence is enforced, sufficiently high. Nothing we can say here can cure the position in that respect, and my hon. friend should devote some of his energies to bringing influence to bear on the provincial council of the Cape, if need be, in that direction. Nothing, I venture to say, in the proposal which came from this side of the House in fixing a maximum, was intended to benefit the large importer at the expense of the small importer, but to lay down that the large importers should not be placed in the position that this licence, for it is nothing more than a licence, might lead to the payment of thousands of pounds per annum.
Amendment put and agreed to.
On second schedule,
I wish to move an amendment—
This is merely consequential on the previous amendment. I also wish to move in item (e) the amendment printed at page 689 of the Votes and Proceedings—
which is the same as the amendment already accepted in section 2 of the Bill.
I accept that.
In regard to the second portion of the amendment, I would like to ask whether we cannot have some explanation.
It has already been moved in section 2 of the Bill, and is merely a drafting amendment to make the meaning more plain.
Amendments put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, adopted; third reading on Thursday.
Second Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 11th June on Vote 33, Main Estimates, “Lands,” £197,545; Votes 14 to 19 and 31 and 32 standing over.]
I am doing this, not because I wish to reduce the Minister’s salary, or see that he be paid any less sum than he is entitled to, for I want to say here and now, that I have always had, and I think every member of this House has always had, from the Minister and every member of his department every courtesy and every assistance where we could possibly have expected to have it in the various matters we have had to bring to his notice. It is all the more pleasing for me to be able to say this, in view of the fact that I have to criticize the action and policy of the Government in a direction in which I think it will be regarded by everyone as being deserving of very severe criticism indeed. I am moving the reduction of the Minister’s salary as the only means I have of bringing before the notice of the House a very remarkable document issued by his department. It is a document which, so far as it has already become known, has produced a feeling of great despondency, particularly in Natal, among those who have already got the information, and I am quite sure that, when it becomes publicly known, as it must, indeed, be shortly very widely known, as a result of this debate, it will create a feeling of intense bitterness indeed throughout the Union, particularly in the minds of that section of the community at which it is more particularly directed. The gist of this document is this: A general order has been issued to all the land boards of the Union, as a general instruction, that for the future, in all applications which may come before them for the allotment of Crown lands, preference shall be given, all other things being equal, to those who fought on the side of the late republics. A truly amazing instruction, but I think it will be better if I read the document verbatim, so that there shall be no misunderstanding as to what the instructions really are, and the authority upon which those instructions were issued to the land boards. This document is the one that was addressed to the chairman of the Natal land board. It is dated the 9th January, 1925, and reads as follows—
It will be noticed at once that there are three outstanding features in this very remarkable document. First of all it is a Cabinet order. One can easily realize that it is far too important a document to have been issued on the responsibility of any single Minister, no Minister would have dared to issue such an instruction on his own responsibility. That this decision has been come to only after having been carefully considered by the Cabinet as a whole, therefore the Cabinet accepts full responsibility for this document, and in that respect one must not forget that no member of the Cabinet is able to hide himself behind a colleague. I particularly draw the attention of the House to the obvious concurrence of the Minister for Defence (Col. Creswell) and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs (Mr. Boydell) in this connection. The second point that stands out is that this is the first time since we entered into Union where a Government has adopted, as a deliberate policy, a great differentiation as between the two main sections of the community, the republicans on the one hand and those who are not republicans on the other. The third outstanding point is that the order is in direct conflict with the resolution of the House. It professes to be in harmony, but as a matter of fact, the whole of this resolution of the House, upon which it proposes to be based, deals with cases of indigence only and the words “indigence” and “indigent” have been removed from the order issued to the Land Board, and has then been applied in its widest possible sense in favour of all who fought on the side of the late republics. The whole of the object of the resolution was solely to give relief to those who were in distress. But this has been brushed aside the word “indigence” is removed and this really amazing order issued to the land boards. There are perhaps quite a number of members who are new to the work and in Parliament for the first time and therefore are not personally cognisant of what has taken place during the last three or four years. In view of this I think it would be advisable to refer to the events which have led up to the issue of this instruction. It was during the first session of 1923 that a certain petition was presented to the House, and this is what it prayed for—
This petition was referred to the Select Committee on Pensions and here in my hands is the report of that committee. They reported on the 19th February, 1923, and it reads as follows—
This report emphasizes the point that the committee, in dealing with this petition did so from the point of view entirely of those in need of relief and from no other point of view. The question of differentiating on the ground of the side on which one fought never appears to have entered into the minds of this committee and rightly so. Now for four months prior to this session, I served on the War Pensions Grievances Commission, and I can say quite definitely that that commission did not concern itself in the slightest degree with the question as to the side on which a man fought in that struggle. When we started. I turned to my brother commissioners and said—
I think the hon. member for Benoni will bear me out in this.
The question of whether a man was English or Dutch, or how he had fought, never entered our minds. And I think we discharged our duty thoroughly, impartially and to the satisfaction of everybody who came before us. To-day I find myself in the position that if this document is allowed to stand, and if my own son comes up before a land board as an applicant for land, and there is anybody up against him who can claim that he fought on the side of the old Republics, the latter will have the preference, and my son will go down, although born and brought up in this country. That is an intolerable position for half the people of this country to be placed in. To show that this has not been sprung upon anybody as a surprise; but, to my mind, has been a carefully considered plan, I will refer briefly to the discussion which took place when the select committee’s report was submitted to the House. On the 26th of February, 1923, the discussion took place. The motion which I have already read was moved by the then Minister of Lands (Col. Reitz), and it ended as follows—
You will notice is was “a settlement.” These words explain themselves. Now there is a vast difference between “a settlement” and a general settlement, and this seems to have occurred to the hon. members then in opposition, for they froze on to that word “a” quickly, and a suggestion of Gen. Hertzog that the word “a” be omitted was agreed to. I think it must have been agreed to somewhat innocently by the then Government, because it has been the omission of that one word or letter “a” which has enabled this order to be issued. Had the word a” been retained in the original resolution submitted by the committee on pensions, this order could never have been issued. The motion was then put and agreed to. Coming back to the letter. I do not know whether hon. members noted particularly these words, they are very important—
In going through the recorded debates in Hansard of that period, a very interesting point transpired. I find that at the time these lands were being allotted by the late Government, in the years 1921-’22-’23, there was one point which was constantly raised by the then Opposition and debated in this House with considerable warmth. It was their rooted objection to any clause being included in such applications for land which indicated whether an applicant had been a soldier or not, and so persistent were the attacks on the then Government that rather than that there should be any question of favouritism in regard to allocation of lands to ex-soldiers, the Government actually had the application form amended to meet the tender susceptibilities of the Opposition who are now the present Government. It is really also a most remarkable thing to find, in studying the records of the last Parliament, that, almost without exception, the Government of the day are following the very same course, and the same principles which they were so bitter in opposing when on this side of the House. Probably in a dozen different cases I found the late Opposition bitterly attacking a certain principle which, to-day, they are adopting in its entirety. This amended form is an apt example of the same thing. The original form of application had this question in it—
That was the question which the late Opposition took exception to, and it was eventually omitted. So, when a new form was brought out in 1923-’24 it contained no reference at all to the applicant’s military service, if any. This omission was entirely due to the pleadings of the late Opposition, but in the new form issued by the present Government, the following question is asked—
That, by itself, is not a question to which I would take the slightest objection, but when you read these questions in conjunction with the instructions to the land boards that in every instance where a man can prove he was on the side of the Republican armies he shall have preference, the matter assumes a very different and a very grave aspect. It is most unfortunate that the Government should have done this, and in view of this exposure and the bitter feeling which will arise throughout the length and breadth of the land, I hope the Government will not hesitate to withdraw the document, and state clearly and distinctly, as soon as possible, that in the future allotment of Crown lands an absolutely impartial attitude will, for the future, be maintained.
I am rather glad that the hon. member has brought up this point, for evidently he has misunderstood the question. He is wrong in stating that instruction were issued to these land boards. We cannot give instructions to the boards, for they are statutory bodies. What my department wrote —it is not for me to give instructions—is what is the policy of the Government, and it gave expression to the Government’s hope that in considering applications for the land the boards, all things being equal, would give special consideration to the claims of members of the ex-republican army. There was nothing wrong in asking the question, and I am rather sorry the form was altered by my predecessor.
It was done at the request of the late Opposition.
Military service is always a qualification in my eyes, whether on this side or the other. I can understand the feeling, although the law makes no discretion and no preference is made, for everybody can make application so long as he is a British subject. The previous Government did give preference to returned soldiers in every instance, whether the law permitted it or not. The returned soldiers always had the first chance and nobody else got a look in. Although the law does not make a difference we have to go on a clear resolution of Parliament, and my hon. friend is wrong in saying that it only deals with indigent burghers, except so far as land settlement is concerned. When this resolution was put before the House the word “a” was removed, because one settlement would not be enough, and it would have to be of general application. When the resolution was passed the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts), the then Prime Minister, expressed the hope that the 5s. would disappear, and that burghers would have an opportunity of going on to settlements, while the others would be cared for in other ways. My predecessor had the idea of appointing a commission to enquire into the matter, but then Parliament was dissolved. The new Government was approached by these people, who asked what the Government was going to do about the matter, and we said that as far as old and indigent persons were concerned the Minister of the Interior would have to establish homes for them and pay them a small allowance. As far as the other burghers were concerned we decided, after going carefully into the matter, that it would be hopelessly impossible for me to buy land for all these people, as to do so I would have to spend millions. Where Crown lands were concerned it was decided that a letter be written to the land boards stating that the applications of indigent burghers be taken into consideration, because the law lays it down that if a person applies for land and he has some already he is not given any.
A person without land is not necessarily indigent.
If he has a big capital he is not given land either. Very often the board has turned down applicants because they think the applicants can afford to buy land. That, I can say, only applies to persons who are not owners of land, who are in fact indigent. It does not have the effect the hon. member is afraid of, because the law demands that a person applying for land must have certain qualifications, he must have practical experience, and a certain amount of capital to work the farm. The words that are put in here—
means, if an oud-stryder applies and has no capital and the other man has capital, then the oud-stryder does not get the preference. A man who has got a span of oxen and a plough is not a rich man, and it applies to indigent persons in this way. My hon. friend is under the impression that if the oud-stryder is a rich man and applies, he can get land. He cannot get it. As a matter of fact, therefore, if two persons apply, and the oud-stryder has not got the necessary implements and the other man has, the other man will get it. The Government had to give effect to this resolution, and this appeared to be the only way to do it without expending large sums of money, because it only applies to Crown land in our possession. It cannot apply under section 11. I don’t think my hon. friend need think this matter is going to act in the way he has stated, that is that only one section of the community will get the land. If he will go through the allotment of farms he will see it does not have the effect at all, and the hon. member can go through the list, because I always put the papers on the Table. His fears are groundless. It was not the intention of the Government, in writing this letter, to make a distinction such as my hon. friend has mentioned.
I must say that I take a very grave view of this circular, over which the Minister has passed so lightly. This circular says that all circumstances being equal, in settling citizens of this country on the land, special consideration must be given to the men who fought on the republican side. Nobody in this House has greater consideration for the men who fought on the republican side than I have. I fought with them from the first to the last. I was prepared to give my life for them, but there are things in this country which we dare not touch, things which are absolutely fundamental, and one of them is that there must be perfect equality between the English and the Dutch in this country. We accept that as a commonplace, it is not a matter for argument. We accept it as axiomatic in this country that no difference shall be made between the Dutch and the English-speaking citizens of this country. The committee will see where we are with this circular which the Minister has issued. This circular draws a clear distinction, and the Government lays it down as their general land settlement policy that where two persons apply—
It cannot apply generally. It only applies to Crown lands.
Yes, to Crown lands. Where two persons apply to be settled on Crown lands, and they are both equally situated and in the same circumstances, then in such a case special consideration shall be given to the man who fought on the republican side. We touch fundamental things here. It is not a case of where our sympathies are. It is not a case of where we fought. We are touching an issue fundamental to this country. The Dutch people have fought to be the equal of Englishmen in the country, and for generations we have suffered, and now we have got to the point that there is laid down in our fundamental constitution and our laws the rule of equality between the races, and what I claim for myself I must claim for my English-speaking fellow South Africans too, and if we ever depart from that rule, I don’t know what is going to happen in this country. If anybody had told me a Government of this country would have issued a circular like that, which draws a distinction between the two parts of our population, and creates special consideration for one against the other, I should not have thought it possible, and should not have believed it. When I was told there was something of the kind, I would not believe it until it was produced in the House—and now the Minister actually defends it. It cannot be. I appeal, not to the English-speaking members of the House, but to the Dutch-speaking members. That is the attitude I take up. What I claim for myself I must give to other South Africans. To let it go forth that it is the land settlement policy of the country that where two men apply for Crown land, their circumstances being identical and equal, but one fought on the republican side and the other did not fight on the republican side, or did not fight at all perhaps, I cannot believe that under such circumstances, we shall lay down that preference and special consideration shall be given to the man who fought on the republican side. It is not right. If we do this, we are doing an unjust thing and it will be a departure from the rule of equality which is fundamental between the races of this country and those guilty of the departure are going to suffer for it in the future. Don’t let us do this. It has taken time and suffering to get to the position that the English and Dutch are equal with equal rights, and with no distinction between the two and no difference at all. I ask the Minister not to draw that line. He thinks he is carrying out the resolution of Parliament. Well, Parliament never intended such a thing. I was Prime Minister at the time, and I agreed to what took place, and gave my blessing to it. Does the Minister think for a moment I would have agreed to a distinction being drawn between the two white races in this country, where it comes to the awarding of Crown lands? I would never have agreed to it. I would ask the Minister, in no party sense at all, because this has nothing to do with parties, we all want to do what is just and fair and to safeguard fundamentals—I would ask the Minister not to persist with that circular, because it is re-opening the old wounds, wounds that have healed in this country, wounds which time has covered up. Don’t let us do that. Let us apply to others the rule that we want to apply to ourselves. If this circular had been issued in former years by a Unionist Government in reference to soldiers who fought on the British side, do you think we would have sat still under it, that we would have submitted to it? No, we would not. I am very sorry that, whenever one touches on a thing like this, it appears as if one speaks in a party spirit. I assure the three hon. Ministers who sit there that there is absolutely nothing party about this, but I do not want that we should give the least indication, the least semblance, of drawing a distinction between men who fought on the one side or on the other side in the wars of this country. If we do it, we are tearing open the old wounds which time has healed. I would appeal very strongly to the Minister. I am sure that he acted in good faith; I am sure that he thought he was simply carrying out the policy of that resolution. The resolution never meant that in the land settlement policy of this country in so far as Crown lands are concerned, preference would be given to the old republican fighters. I certainly never meant that when I gave my blessing to this resolution. I would, therefore, press the Minister very strongly, not on party grounds, but on grounds of the highest policy in this country, not to persist with that circular, but to withdraw it. What was intended no doubt was that, by way of land settlement, if proper circumstances arose and cases occurred, we should help these people, but not that a general policy on those lines should be laid down by the Government of this country, and I would ask my hon. friend not to do so. The harm that would be done is entirely out of proportion to the object that will be secured. All my feeling is to support my old comrades who fought with me, but I feel that, while I am loyal to them and faithful to them, I have a deeper loyalty to South Africa, a loyalty to the compacts which have been made, and a loyalty to the basis on which the new South Africa has been built up.
I want to say at once, quite openly and frankly, that, as far as I am concerned, I do hope that the Government will give equality of opportunity to all white South Africans. I say that as an old republican, and I think that is what the Minister should do. If we are South Africans we should have the same right. I do not want to see the policy of the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) laid down in this House, and that is what he said elsewhere, that a man from overseas should have as much right to land settlement in this country as the man who belongs to this country. Now that is wrong, because we should deal with our own people first as we do in the civil service. You have to live in South Africa for three years before you can get on the railway. That is why I am glad the Government is bringing in a Nationality Bill which will decide who are South Africans and who are not. We should not make this a party question; all white men in South Africa should have equality of opportunity. I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to a report of the Empire Settlement Association. They say that there is no doubt many English men and women have been induced to apply for land in South Africa by prospectuses issued in London: they have lost their capital and have suffered considerable hardship. What is the Government doing on this question? You look through the English papers and you see all sorts of companies advertising their land. We who are farmers know it is quite impossible for people, to come and buy land at these rates and make a living. We are told there are hundreds of men and women who are stranded here. Are the Government doing anything to meet that position? We have all sorts of orchard companies in England to-day selling ground. We should bring some of these people before a select committee of this House and we should then find out who these people are who are making the name of South Africa stink in the nostrils of England. Let us legislate and punish these people who are doing the country great harm. When is South Africa going to open her gates to people from England and other parts? Our white population is getting less every year. We want to get more of the Nordic races. They are passing our shores every day on their way to Australia. With a population of six million blacks and only one and a half million whites, it does not take a very wise man to see what is going to happen. We want some scheme whereby we can welcome settlers. I do not say from England alone; let them come from Germany or Holland or anywhere, so long as they are people of Nordic blood. Australia is getting 30 or 40 thousand people every year. We should have far more employment in South Africa if we got more white people.
What are you going to give them? You say you won’t give them land.
I have stated definitely what my opinion is in regard to land. There is no land to give them, but there is an opening in South Africa. Most of our fathers came with not even the usual shilling in their pockets. You have only to go up to the Free State where you will find a man by the name of Lourie who came here less than 18 years ago and who is producing 18,000 bags of potatoes every year.
One of the Nordic races?
I do not want to bring in the Jewish race at all, and there is no need to do so; for my children have Jewish blood in their veins. That is not the point I am making. We want to get in as many people of the Nordic races as possible. The Jewish people never entered my head. I want the same type of people as those we have in this House. There are members of the Jewish people who have come to this country and are amongst the best of the farmers. But no people are coming in. Neither English, nor Dutch, nor German, nor Belgian. We must help them by having a proper land settlement scheme. There is room in the Free State, where we have 300,000 white people. If we had a big white population we would have very little unemployment. We had some Germans who came to Heilbron. They knew nothing about farming, and to-day they are amongst the best farmers. If we could induce the Germans to come to this country they would teach a lot of our people to work, and do an enormous amount of good to this country.
I am sorry the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) wandered rather far from the very important question we are discussing. Like the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) I too, am an oud-stryder. I followed the right hon. gentleman through the Boer war from the first day to the last. I yield to no man in my sympathy with and desire to help the burghers of the old republics; but as the hon. member for Standerton has pointed out, it is not a question of sympathy, but that we should do what is just. The Minister of Lands has indicated that he is taking this unusual step, because, after the great war the South African land boards seemed to give preference to returned soldiers. That is not so.
I did not say that was my reason for doing it.
I accept the Minister’s explanation. In the very nature of the case, it followed that there would be a larger number of returned soldiers from the great war applying for land, than of burghers from the Boer war 20 years before; but even if the Minister did not mean it, several of the hon. members on the other side seemed to think that, because a considerable number of returned soldiers were placed on a list, it was a justification for this present circular. I, personally, served as chairman on the select committee that dealt with this question, and I think, according to my lights, we dealt with it sympathetically, and as generously as possible. This circular goes very much further than the resolution. I put myself in the position of a citizen of Natal or the Cape. I can understand that if this circular applied only to Crown land in the Transvaal or the Free State there might be some justification for it, but it is going far beyond the policy we have adopted of perfect equality for the white races to force this on the Cape or Natal. The present Prime Minister was most insistent on having the military clause deleted from the application form, and he was supported practically by all the late Opposition. It was more especially on the direct personal request of the present Prime Minister that I removed that military clause.
Why was the military clause in at all?
The Minister of Lands will agree that it is just as well, when you are settling remote areas, to know whether a man has had military service. The military clause as originally drafted was a perfectly clear one and made no discrimination.
The new one is more or less the same.
No. The new one must be read in conjunction with the circular. It is not enough for the Minister to say the Government cannot instruct the land boards on this point. That is a slight evasion. We are not trying to make a debating point, and I don’t question the Minister’s bona fides in this matter, but he tells us that the circular is a mere pious opinion No, it is a direct command. None of us has any objection to anything in reason being done to assist the old republicans, but not at the expense of others. I would like to hear from the Minister of Defence if he approves of the circular. If these men have to be helped—and we all agree that they should be helped—they can be assisted, but a circular of this sort must arouse feelings of opposition, certainly at any rate among one section, because they feel it is unfair discrimination, re-opens old wounds, and touches on things that are dead and buried. It may be said: “Here are two ex-republicans who fought during the Anglo-Boer war, yet they are trying to put obstacles in the way of ex-burghers obtaining land.” I am sure when we open to-morrow’s “Die Burger” we shall see something of that sort. I hope the House will keep the matter on a higher plane than that. I am sorry to see the attitude of some hon. members over there, because we are trying to look at the thing from a high level. I flatter myself that when I sat in the select committee which dealt with this matter I endeavoured to keep the thing on a high plane. I sincerely hope no one will question my sympathy for the ex-burgher, but I do not see how anyone can justify the circular. (Time expired.)
I must say that I am not in the least surprised at the attitude of the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts). He has always taken up that attitude not only in this House but he has also expressed it strongly on the country side. He does not let a single opportunity slip to put the two races against each other and that was his object this afternoon as well. We know that this also has always been the attitude of his old friends round about him there. That is the only thing that has kept them alive. The hon. member for Weenen (Maj. Richards) has allowed this to appear very clear this afternoon. He has referred to three big points in the circular. The first point has also been strongly approved by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). How dare the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, they say, have any sympathy with the oud-stryders. Hon. members opposite say it is not true but it follows clearly from the speeches and their representation of the matter. In their printed forms the question is always asked: did you take part in the great war?
Or were you on commando?
We heard about that also, but when we look at the successful applicants then we find that the commando qualification means nothing. The application of the returned soldier is always accepted. The late Minister Burton did not hesitate to say so. He said that time after time they would give preference to the returned soldiers. Did they do that to make a race distinction or because they thought that so much had been promised to those people that they had to satisfy them a little in this way and that they should be given a special reward? Is it not also a special reward which should be given to the oud-stryders? I am certain of it that the great majority of the oud-stryders, and also hon. members of this House at the time when the motion was passed were under the impression that the Government was going to give special preference to the oud-stryder who applied. As for me, I want to repeat what I said then, viz., that in the hands of the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) it was only a pious motion just to mislead the oud-stryders. I knew quite well that it would mean nothing, and that is the very reason that the other side is kicking against it to-day, that this Government intends, in a certain measure, to give effect to that motion. It is possible that the hon. member for Standerton has great consideration for the oud-stryders, but he never showed it in deeds. He has had an opportunity long enough to show his sympathy by practical action. Hon. members opposite laugh, I should like one of the hon. members opposite to get up and tell me where he has made any special provision for those people. He always has his mouth full of the oud-stryders, but he has not shown his sympathy by one single action. All that he has done is to state that he feels very much for them, but, during all the time that he was in power, he did nothing for these people. At that time they were told that they were entitled to a payment of 5s., but that after the acceptance of the motion, and after the establishment of the home for oud-stryders, and the grant of special preference in the acquisition of ground, they had to give up the 5s. That is the impression the people were under at the time and they are, to-day, still under that impression. I hope that this Government will see to it, and carry out the motion. What wrong is there then in asking in the form whether one has been an oud-stryder or not? How can the Government otherwise know whether anyone was an oud-stryder? I hope that steps will now be taken to see that they get the recompense and the consideration that they are entitled to, and it is not only Dutch-speaking people, there are many English-speaking people who are entitled to special consideration, and I trust that the Government will make no difference, but just carry out the spirit of the motion accepted at the time.
I was inexpressibly touched by the appeal made by the right hon. the member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts), and more particularly by the tone that he adopted, and I think that is the spirit in which we have to tackle this question—an appeal to reason, an appeal to rights of equality for white men in South Africa. I was particularly pleased and struck by his appeal that this question should be entirely non-party. This is a matter that we should deal with on a non-party basis, and in a non-party spirit, and, that being so, I would urge upon the right hon. gentleman to appeal to his followers, in turn, to approach this matter in a non-party spirit, dealing with it without any desire to obtain any party advantage out of it. That is all the more necessary when we remember, the speech of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). There was no occasion for him to intervene after that lofty speech of the hon. member for Standerton. There was no need for him to get up and dot the i’s and cross the t’s of the hon. member for Standerton, but it seems to me that he got up in order to take advantage of the opportunity to make some party capital out of this matter. Now, if the desire were to keep it purely non-party, not to again throw the apple of discord amongst the people of this country, why on earth, have they brought this forward on the floor of this House? Was it not competent, was it not possible, nay, necessary, for the hon. member for Weenen (Maj. Richards), who introduced this subject, and for the hon. member for Standerton, immediately he heard it, to go to the Minister and say—
That would be the inevitable result. If they honestly held that point of view, that is the way they would examine the question. They have not done so. They did not go to the Minister. I presume that they asked that these papers be laid on the Table of the House.
Four months ago.
Yes, four months ago. That was the object of it, to make party capital out of it. For, four months they have had the information, or at least it is four months ago that they asked for these papers to be placed on the Table. They evidently had some inkling of what transpired, and they evidently understood this circular had been sent out to the various land boards, notably Natal. Then in consequence of a desire to make party capital—
They are rather hard up for party capital.
I want to examine this thing fairly and squarely. Now, when the Minister’s vote is under consideration of the committee, they come forward and in the most public manner possible, they deal with this question that ought to have been dealt with privately with the Minister beforehand. If they had really had the interests of South Africa at heart if they were not anxious to open up again the old racial sore, they would not have taken this action—so far from trying to heal the wounds, the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D Reitz) is rubbing salt into them. The whole idea is to once again open up the whole racial wrangle in this country. I fear that and I reprobate it. Surely it is the duty of so responsible a member as the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts), once Prime Minister, knowing the confusion and terrible trouble throughout South Africa in the past, and in the immediate past, as the result of this sort of thing, surely it was pre-eminently his duty to go to the Minister and say, “This is having a so and so effect. I believe you have done wrong; cannot you withdraw it?” That is obviously the course so responsible a man should have adopted. Now they are building up another racial misconception. I fear it. Having said that, I want to appeal to the Minister of Lands. You see what a handle you are giving these people, you see what political capital is being made out of it, you see how they seek to hurl the English and Dutch at one another’s throats. The very best thing you can do is to withdraw that circular and establish once and for all complete equality between English and Dutch, the old Boer fighter and the old English fighter. Establish that equality particularly in the matter of their applications for land. Give them no further handles, and carry on, as I know the Minister and his colleagues are desirous of doing, in the direction of smashing that racial trouble and running this country, not as English and Dutch, but an South Africans.
Question put; and the Prime Minister called for a division, but afterwards withdrew the request.
Motion agreed to.
Progress reported; House to resume in committee to-morrow.
The House adjourned at