House of Assembly: Vol5 - THURSDAY 2 JULY 1925

THURSDAY, 2nd JULY, 1925.

Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.24 p.m.


The CHAIRMAN brought up the report of the Committee of Ways and Means on income tax, death duties, licence duties, native tax and customs duties proposals.

Report considered and adopted, and a Bill brought up.


Income Tax Bill read a first time; second reading on Wednesday.


Mr. CILLIERS, as Chairman, brought up the second report of the Select Committee on Pensions, Grants and Gratuities. [Votes and Proceedings, pages 882-885. ]

Report to be considered in Committee of the Whole House to-morrow.


First Order read: Third reading, City of Cape Town (Muizenberg Beach) Improvement Bill. Bill read a third time.


Second Order read: House to go into Committee on second report of Select Committee on Native Affairs. [S.C. 6a—’25.]

House in Committee:

Paragraphs (1) to (7) and the Schedule put and agreed to.

House Resumed:

Resolutions reported, considered and adopted, and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.


Third Order read: House to resume in Committee on Electoral Act, 1918, Amendment Bill.

House in Committee:

[Progress reported at the last sitting; Clause 44 had been agreed to.]

On new Clause 45,


I have to move an amendment on this clause. It is not that I do not accept the clause in principle but because I think it is rather badly drafted. Hon. members will see that as it stands now it reads—in (a)—

In the case of a general election on the dissolution of Parliament or provincial council concerned.

What of course, is meant is the dissolution of the House of Assembly. I therefore move the following re-drafting of this clause—

To omit paragraphs (a) and (b) and to substitute:
  1. “(a) in the case of a general election, upon the dissolution of the House of Assembly under any provision of the South Africa Act, 1909, or upon the expiry of the term of office of a provincial council under section seventy-three of the same Act;
  2. (b) in the case of a bye-election in consequence of a vacancy, by death, resignation or other cause, in the representation of any division, upon the publication in the Gazette or Official Gazette of the Province concerned, according as the vacancy is in the representation of the House of Assembly or of a Provincial Council, of a notice by the Speaker or Administrator of the Province concerned (as the case may be) declaring that a vacancy has occurred.”

I would like to move an amendment to introduce a part of clause 41 into this clause. In clause 41 it is laid down—

It shall not be lawful for any political organization to carry on philanthropical work or for any philanthropical society or body to devote any of its funds for political purposes.

This provision should apply only during the period covered by Clause 45. Surely it not intended that a philanthropic society should not be able to apply any of its funds for the purposes of political propaganda during times when an election is not proceeding. Although it is not desirable that philanthropic societies should spend their money for political purposes, that should not be made the ground for a criminal prosecution. I move—

In line 65, after “thirty-nine” to insert “forty-one”.
†Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

The Minister’s amendment proves that the select committee was quite correct when it suggested that before any amendment was put to the committee it should have the approval of the parliamentary draftsman. It was on that understanding that we made suggestions and refrained from moving amendments in specific terms. The Minister has admitted that we gave him every help in getting clauses passed.


Also last night?

†Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

No one can say that last night we did anything except try to obtain a decent Bill. The Opposition gave the Minister a vast amount of help in the select committee. The minutes do not contain the record of half the work done in select committee. It was owing to the action of the Opposition on the select committee that we did not have recorded the vast amount of suggestions and evidence which otherwise would have been printed. We suggested possible amendments, but when we found that the majority of the select committee was not in favour of them we did not press them, thus a vast amount of time was saved. The Minister’s attitude last night was absolutely ungenerous to the Opposition. And one feels that the position is such now that were we not thinking of the good of the country, we would say to the Minister, we will leave this Bill to you and you will have the responsibility of the whole matter. The Minister will admit also that when we got the first 40 clauses through, and he had thanked us for the assistance we had given him, we mentioned that Clause 44 was the most important and contentious clause of the Bill. He admitted that, and I understood he was going to give us an opportunity of fully discussing that clause. Last night the Minister must know that we had less than an hour’s debate before 11 o’clock, and being ungenerous and finding he could not get his pet clause through, if we had a reasonable opportunity of showing him the fallacy of his determination, he used his steam roller majority to push it through.


The hon. member must confine himself to the clause.

†Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

If you look at the clause we are discussing, Mr. Chairman, you will find it relates to Clause 44. The position is perfectly clear that by this amendment of the select committee before us we are going to limit the period during which the signatures must be affixed to every report. Clause 39 refers to—

a “return of electoral matter”

in connection with any election. Clause 44 is also in regard to matters having “reference to an election.” In the select committee the original proposal by the Opposition was voted down by the Pact majority. I cannot understand why, because Clause 40 is also in connection with an election, and surely there should be some degree of certainty as to when an election starts. If you are going to limit the period in regard to Clauses 39 and 44 you naturally must limit it in regard to Clause 40 also. I want to move, therefore—

In line 65, after “thirty-nine” to insert forty

As the clause stands there is uncertainty as to when an election does commence, and you will find that the evidence from beginning to end shows that there was not one witness satisfied that anyone would know when an election commences. I cannot see any difference between this and 40. It seems to me that the same difficulty will arise in regard to 40 as in regard to 44.


Hon. gentlemen on the other side know that I am always very willing to meet them as far as I can, especially as I feel very grateful for the assurance of the hon. member who has just spoken of continued assistance that hon. members from the other side are going to give me in spite of the late hours last night. I am very sorry it is impossible for me to accept these two amendments, simply because it will altogether nullify the effect of the provisions which we have passed before. Clause 40 has reference to the expenditure incurred in connection with a general election by companies and political parties and persons other than a candidate. If we accept the amendment moved by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) and we are consistent, we must apply the same principle to the candidate and say that the expenditure of the candidate will include expenditure not only after the dissolution of Parliament, but also before the time. Everybody will see that if we apply that principle which he stands for, generally, then that opens the door to a great amount of abuse. Practically the great bulk of expenditure in connection with the election can be able to be incurred by a candidate before Parliament is actually dissolved for the period that he was actually on the hustings. I do not see why he should propose here to apply it to other persons and to companies and political parties. The same holds with regard to 41, the clause in connection with philanthropic work. Of course, if we accept the amendment of the hon. member, we will nullify 41 altogether, because that is the very thing we want to prevent: philanthropic societies or political parties doing philanthropic work in the ordinary course of their work, and the use of that argument that they have been doing philanthropic work at the time of an election. If we accept these two amendments we might as well delete the two clauses that we have passed before.

Amendments proposed by Mr. Robinson and Maj. G. B. van Zyl put and negatived.

Amendment proposed by the Minister of the Interior put and agreed to.

Proposed new clause, as amended, put and agreed to.

On Clause 46,


I move—

To add the following new paragraph to follow paragraph (c): (d) by the insertion of the following new sub-section (11): (11) Where on the trial of an election petition, the court determines that the respondent was not duly elected, and is of opinion, having regard to the circumstances, that it would be just and reasonable to relieve any party to the action from all or a portion of the costs thereof, then—
  1. (a) if the court finds that the election of the respondent was due to a mistake or improper performance or failure of performance of any function bona fide made by any officer, it may, after sufficient notice to the Minister to show cause to the contrary, make such order as to the payment by the Government of the costs of the action or portion thereof as it may deem fit;
  2. (b) if the court finds that the election of the respondent was due to a mistake or improper performance or failure of performance of any function male fide made by any officer, it may, after sufficient notice to such officer to show cause to the contrary, make such order as to the payment by such officer of the costs of the action or portion thereof as it may deem fit.

This amendment is one which was suggested, and one which has met with the approval of all sections concerned. There has not been time to get the proper phraseology, but I submit it ought to go into this Bill. It covers the case of an election petition in which a mistake has been made by a Government official and a candidate has been wrongly returned. The losing candidate, in order to upset the decision of the Government official has to bring an action into the court, and has to face the costs. We can a case in Bloemfontein where a mistake of an officer resulted in the return of the wrong candidate, and we had a similar case at East London. In each case the defeated candidate had to incur the expense of getting the decision upset.


I gladly accept this amendment. I am sorry I did not introduce it into the Bill originally, but that was because it escaped my notice. Hon. members who have read the report of the Select Committee on the Electroal Bill in 1918 will see that the Committee, with regard to what happened at East London, reported sympathetically to Parliament in favour of provision being made as is now proposed by the hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn). I have no hesitation in accepting the amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

*Mr. J. P. LOUW:

I should like to know whether a private member is entitled to propose an amendment involving an increase of expenditure.


Proper notice has been given that the Governor-General recommends it for adoption by Parliament.

Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.

On Clause 52,


The hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) has asked me to move the amendment standing in his name in the paper—

To omit Clause 52 and substitute a new Clause 52, as follows: “As soon as the Speaker of the House of Assembly becomes aware of a vacancy he shall notify the Governor-General. He shall also notify the House of Assembly if Parliament is in session, and if Parliament is not in session he shall notify the House of Assembly as soon as possible after the beginning of the next ensuing session.

The effect of the amendment is simply to provide that as well as notifying the House of Assembly of a vacancy, Mr. Speaker shall also notify the Governor-General, so that he may take steps required under the law, to bring about a new election. Under the present law there is no definite provision made under which the Governor-General shall be notified of a vacancy, and in the past various private individuals have taken it upon themselves to notify the Governor-General of any vacancy, and he has collected the information from the Registrar of Deaths, or anybody else. I think it is desirable that the law should definitely provide that when Mr. Speaker is notified of a vacancy, as he is under this Bill, he should immediately notify the Governor-General so that proper steps may be taken.


I may say that these clauses relating to vacancies in the House of Assembly have been drafted after negotiations between Mr. Speaker and the Clerk of the House on the one side and myself on the other, and by common agreement have been introduced into this Bill. For that reason I think we ought not to accept the amendment of the hon. member for Yeoville (-Mr. Duncan). What will happen if his amendment is accepted will be this, say for instance a vacancy occurs in the representation of a particular constituency in the House of Assembly. That vacancy occurs shortly before the efflux ion of time of the House of Assembly, so that in a few months’ time the House has in any case to be dissolved. If this amendment is accepted then the machinery for the filling of that vacancy is put into motion automatically and neither Mr. Speaker nor the Governor-General can get away from this fact that, in accordance with the law, they must have that vacancy filled up. That means that we would have a by-election quite unnecessarily. Parliament might possibly not be in session and might not sit before the general election —and the same applies, of course, to the provincial council elections—yet the whole machinery must be put into motion and all the expenditure must be incurred of filling up that vacancy by means of a by-election and soon after that election has taken place Parliament is dissolved and the election has to be gone over again. It is to obviate that, that we have drafted this clause that stands in the Bill.

†Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

This does not put the Act into operation so as to require an immediate election. All that is asked is to notify the Governor-General as well as Mr. Speaker that there is a vacancy.


The point is this, that as soon as the Governor-General is notified, according to the existing Act, the machinery must be put into motion. Within a certain time after a vacancy has been brought to the notice of the Governor-General, a proclamation must be issued fixing the nomination day and the rest of the procedure must be followed.

Amendment negatived.

On Clause 53,

†Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

The hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) has requested me to move an amendment on his behalf. He originally put an amendment upon the Order Paper-(p. 870), but that has now been changed, and he desires me to move the following new sub-section (2)—

To omit sub-section (2) and to substitute the following: (2) If while Parliament is not in session the Speaker dies, resigns, is absent from the Union or is incapacitated, the Clerk of the House of Assembly shall perform the duties of the Speaker as prescribed by section fifty-nine of the principal Act as amended by this Act, sub-section (7) of section one hundred and eleven of the principal Act, as amended by this Act, and by sub-section (2) of section forty-eight, sub-section (1) of section forty-nine, section fifty and section fifty-one of this Act.

I understood from the hon. member (Sir Thomas Watt) the Minister is prepared to accept this.


I can only say that I willingly accept this amendment, and I may add that it has also been discussed with Mr. Speaker and the Clerk of the House, and they agree to it.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.

New Clause 54,


I desire to move a new clause to follow Clause 53. This is an amendment dealing with what I know is rather a contentious question and that is the provisions of the law which require the closing of bars during an election.


Do you want to keep them open?


No, I don’t want to keep them open, but I want to confine this restriction to general elections and not to compel the closing of these places during a by-election. The position is this, if you take places like Johannesburg or Cape Town you have a by-election in one division, and under the present law, within three miles all round that division the bars have got to be closed, including divisions where there is no election going on at all and where people do not even know that there is an election going on. I think that is an altogether unnecessary provision. I would just like to give hon. members some idea what it means in a place like Johannesburg. In Johannesburg there are at the present time, I am informed, 218 licences. If a by-election takes place in Vrededorp the result is that 205 of the whole of the licensed places have to close their doors.


That leaves a lucky thirteen.


If you have a by-election in Langlaagte 208 are closed and only 10 remain open. A by-election in Park Town closes all the licences in Johannesburg except six. I do think that is unreasonable. I am not an advocate of the liquor trade, but I think we ought to deal with these things with some approach to reasonableness. I think if we say this provision about closing bars should only take effect on the occasion of a general election we should be going quite far enough to protect the public and to remove any possible cause of disturbance or trouble that may arise from too free use of liquor. The effect of my amendment is that the law in regard to the closing of bars will be operative only on the occasion of a general election. I move the amendment as a new clause after 53—

That the following be a new clause to follow Clause 53: 54. Section 139 of the principal Act is amended by the deletion from sub-section (1) thereof of the words “In a division and within three miles of any boundary thereof,” and by the insertion after the words “polling day” of the words “at a general election”

I am surprised that an amendment of this nature should be moved at this stage, because the gentlemen who are interested in this particular clause—I mean outside the House—are very insistent, and I quite expected that they would make an attempt to have the Bill altered in the direction that the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) has moved. On the other hand, I am rather surprised that the hon. member has introduced this motion, seeing that the whole question was very thoroughly gone into in the select committee which sat on the Electoral Bill in 1921, and the hon. member, at that time, was chairman of that committee. The matter was threshed out before that committee, and these gentlemen outside gave very exhaustive evidence, so that they had every chance to represent their case. I find that as the report of that committee was drafted originally there was a paragraph saying—

Your committee recommend that the provision as to the closing of licensed premises should only be applied in the case of a general election.

That is what he is asking now; but on the motion by the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) it was resolved in line 10, after “closing” to omit all the words to the end, and substitute—

Your committee, however, is unable to recommend any alteration in the existing provision of the law.

At that time, at least, the hon. member did not feel so strongly on this matter as to ask for a division. He did not ask for a division; he simply accepted the decision of the select committee. As I say, I am very much surprised he should feel so strongly on the rights of these gentlemen outside by introducing this matter. The principle as laid down in the Bill is admitted, and I should say by the hon. member, to be a sound one, that when an election is taking place all the licenced places should be closed; that is the general principle at a general election. Every one sees the necessity in the interests of the voter himself that he should have very clear ideas and a steady hand. Everybody, of course, feels there should be no temptation any way for improper inducement to any voter to vote in this way or in that way. When the general principle is admitted, why should a difference be made between a general election and a by-election? It is impossible for me to understand why the principle should be admitted and then apply it in one case and not in another. There may be a little hardship in the case of some licensed premises, but on the other hand, by-elections do not occur very frequently, and if they do occur the chance that such by-elections shall be in this or that constituency are more or less equal for all constituencies in the Union. For that reason I do not see that we should make too much of this hardship in the case of a few licensees.


I do not know why the Minister should be so surprised at my feeling so very strongly, as he says, that I bring it up again. I felt when the committee of 1921 was sitting that the position was most unsatisfactory, but I did not at that time press the matter to a division, because I did not see that I was likely to carry it. I do not feel very strongly about it, but I do feel this, that it is a distinct grievance, and I understand these people interested in the matter asked to be allowed to give evidence before this select committee and the committee refused. Therefore, I feel it my duty, when asked by my constituents, to bring this matter up. I think this is a grievance. The Minister says he sees no difference in principle between the two. Perhaps there is not, but in a town you cannot enforce it in a by-election. The only way to rectify it in my opinion is not to attempt to put this in force in connection with the by-election at all, but to confine the operation of the law to a general election, which will give all the protection that is necessary and avoid those cases of hardship which I think at present exist. That is why I move it.

New clause, put and agreed to.

On the First Schedule,


I move to change the names in the model ballot paper. As the names now appear they are “Brown and Hofmeyr” but both those names are too well-known. It often happens that we have candidates with those names and this would be misleading, especially as the model ballot form must be exhibited in the polling booth. It is misleading to uneducated voters, for we must not forget that there are some voters who have had no other instruction than that which they receive for two nights before the date of registration. I move—

To omit “Brown” and “Hofmeyr” in the form of ballot paper, and to substitute “Gilpin” and “Huisman” respectively.

Why not Tod?

Amendment, put and agreed to

On the Second Schedule,

On the motion of the Minister of the Interior, the Chairman put the new paragraph (a) of section nineteen.


I move:

In the second and third lines of the paragraph, to omit “notary public, railway station master”.

The general principle laid down here is that a presiding officer for an absentee voter recording his vote by post must be, as far as possible, a Government official and an official with some legal knowledge. He must be quite a competent man. Originally as I introduced this in the select committee, notary public and railway station master were not included, but I am afraid some hon. gentleman in the committee wanted to insert “notary public” and to counteract that some other hon. gentleman desired “railway stationmaster,” and the result was that these two sets of hon. members helped to introduce these two categories. But I have good reason to believe that the insertion of these two classes does not reflect the real opinion of the select committee. In any case I think it is most undesirable to have “notary public or railway stationmaster.” We are not sure that the latter will always be competent presiding officers, and as far as notaries public are concerned. I have the highest respect for them, but I think it most inadvisable to have them as presiding officers. In the first place notaries public are practically always attorneys. I know there is a good deal of prejudice in the country against attorneys; I do not agree with that because I know there are a good many attorneys who are, quite excellent and honest men. As a matter of fact attorneys are generally the chief political agents. It very often happens when you have a firm of attorneys in a division that one of the partners is the National party agent and the other the South African party election agent. When we introduce this system of voting by post we must have the confidence of the public, but if people who take a very prominent part in elections are presiding officers we would very largely destroy public confidence. Further, it is not necessary to have notaries public as presiding officers for the simple reason that wherever an attorney practices there you also have a magistrates court or at least police officials. Where there is no policeman in a place an attorney cannot exist, and if there is a magistrate’s court the voter can go there.

†Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

The Minister gave three reasons why he wished to retain as presiding officers, magistrates and special justices of the peace, non-commissioned officers of police and justices of the peace, because they are official, have legal knowledge and are competent. Can the Minister show me a single notary public without these three qualifications? I look upon the amendment as a slur upon a very highly respected profession. Supreme courts the world over will accept a certificate of a notary public, but of no other person. I cannot understand the Minister objecting to a notary public certifying a document which a non-commissioned officer of police is allowed to certify. The Minister cannot separate his idea of what those attorneys with whom apparently he is well acquainted are likely to do from what a member of an honourable profession is likely to do. I feel he has gone out of his way to insult an honourable profession in classing them below a sergeant of police or a justice of the peace. After all what is a justice of the peace? He is appointed by Government, and mostly it is purely7 a political appointment, he need have no qualification of any kind. Yet he has the honour of serving where a notary public is not to be allowed to serve. Members of the Labour party on that committee told us—

if you support us we will support you,

and I would rather support anybody included in this list than agree to an honourable profession being slandered as it is here proposed. Right through the whole world, the courts would accept the certificate of a notary public, and they would do that in the case of no other person I know of. Why should he be singled out to be left out of a position of trust such as this is? It is foolish and I protest.


I should like to support what has fallen from the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) and I should also like to know why the Minister proposes to eliminate the station masters. In the select committee, I think we were all agreed that the station master would be a particularly useful official to have for the purposes of this Act. As far as my experience goes, they are well qualified to carry out this function. He is as likely to be free from political prejudice as the men to whom it is proposed to entrust the power.


The Minister’s great argument is that, in the small towns, an attorney or notary public will be, as a rule, an election agent, but in that case he cannot act. Because a notary public is a strong party man, it does not necessarily follow that he is going to commit a crime. We hold that a station master is quite as competent as a sergeant of police, in this connection. I have known some village blacksmiths with more brains than advocates. That is why we supported this in committee.


I hope the committee will accept the Minister’s amendment. The committee will see that, in this schedule, a man can go before a magistrate, returning officer, etc., to record his vote. These are trusted officials who are appointed as returning officers for absent voters. We wish to give the public confidence in this system of voting by post, We wish the public to understand that the man to whom they go is outside of politics, and will see that everything is done on the square, and one could quite easily conceive that if notaries public are appointed as these returning officers, the public will lose their confidence, not because the notary cannot be trusted, but because as the Minister said, in most cases the notary public is a strong partisan.

Maj. G. B. VAN ZYL:

Who is not?


And he shows it, and takes an active part in politics. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) has stated that it is a slander on the notaries public; then I say it is a slander on ministers of religion and others. Many attestations are made before ministers of religion, and are accepted, and the fact that ministers and advocates have been left out is no slander on these professions. The point is that we want officials to act as officers. In regard to station masters, there is a big difference between a station master and a station master.


Hear hear.


A station master at a station like Bloemfontein is different from one at a wayside siding. The man who has risen to be station master at a big station like Johannesburg or Cape Town has long experience in the service, whereas the station master at a small station may have only short service. I am sorry the station master and the notary were included in this by the new pact, and I hope that pact will be broken up to-day.

Mr. D. M. BROWN:

I do not think any slur was meant on the profession of notary public, because whatever else they may do, they try to keep up the standard of their profession. With regard to station masters, the man in the big place is in a higher grade, but what we have to aim at is a class of man who is thoroughly honest. I cannot remember ever hearing of any station master taking part in an election, and I think, as a class, they are more accessible than the average official. In regard to notaries public and politics. I think there are only three in the town I come from who take part in elections. It does not follow that because a man takes part in an election, that he is going to betray his trust, simply on a question of this kind. Surely he would put his trust higher than his politics. I think the Minister might accept it. I have no doubt about the station master’s competency.

Mr. J. P. LOUW:

The Minister has asked us to delete “station masters” and justices of the peace.”


No, no.

Mr. J. P. LOUW:

Commissioners of oaths are left out.



Question put: That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the amendment; and Maj. van Zyl called for a division.

Upon which the committee divided:


Alexander, M.

Anderson, H. E. K.

Arnott, W.

Ballantine, R.

Barlow, A. G.

Bates, F. T.

Brown, D. M.

Buirski, E.

Byron, J. J.

Chaplin, F. D. P.

Duncan, P.

Gilson, L. D.

Giovanetti, C. W.

Grobler, H. S.

Harris, D.

Heatlie, C. B.

Jagger, J. W.

Kentridge, M.

Lennox, F. J.

Louw, J. P.

McMenamin, J. J.

Miller, A. M.

Moffat, L.

Naudé, J. F. (Tom)

Nel, O. R.

Nicholls, G. H.

Nieuwenhuize, J.

O’Brien, W. J.

Oppenheimer, E.

Reitz, D.

Richards, G. R.

Rider, W. W.

Robinson, C. P.

Sephton, C. A. A.

Smartt, T. W.

Smuts, J. C.

Steyn, C. F.

Struben, R. H.

Van Heerden, G. C.

Van Zyl, G. B.

Tellers: Collins, W. R.; De Jager, A. L.


Allen, J.

Bergh, P. A.

Boydell, T.

Brink, G. F.

Brits, G. P.

Brown, G.

Christie, J.

Cilliers, A. A.

Conradie, J. H.

Conroy, E. A.

Creswell, F. H. P.

De Villiers, W. B.

De Wet, S. D.

Fick, M. L.

Fordham, A. C.

Fourie, A. P. J.

Grobler, P. G. W.

Hattingh, B. R.

Havenga, N. C.

Hay, G. A.

Hertzog, J. B. M.

Kemp, J. C. G.

Keyter, J. G.

Le Roux, S. P.

Louw, E. H.

Malan, D. F.

Malan, M. L.

Mostert, J. P.

Mullineux, J.

Naudé, A. S.

Pearce, C.

Pienaar, J. J.

Pretorius, J. S. F.

Rood, W. H.

Snow, W. J.

Stals, A. J.

Steytler, L. J.

Strachan, T. G.

Swart, C. R.

Te Water, C. T.

Van der Merwe, N. J.

Van Heerden, I. P.

Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.

Visser, T. C.

Waterston, R. B.

Wessels, J. B.

Tellers: Vermooten, O. S.; Wessels J. H. B.

Question accordingly negatived, and the words omitted.

Paragraph (a), as amended, put and agreed to.

Second Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.

Title put and agreed to.

House Resumed:

Bill reported with amendments; to be considered on Monday.


Fourth Order Read—Second Reading,—Co-operative Societies Act, 1922, Amendment Bill.


I move—

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This is an amendment of our present Co-operative Societies Act. Experience after two years of working has shown that there are certain weaknesses and shortcomings in the existing Act and we are now trying by these proposals to remedy the shortcomings. We acknowledge that the existing Co-operative Societies Act is a very good Act but we just want to try and make an improvement here and there. I do not think that it is necessary for me to say much about co-operation. No difference of opinion exists about it that co-operation is the salvation of the farming population. I will therefore just refer to the sections briefly. There may be a few sections, particularly one, viz., 18, regarding which there are difficulties but when we come to that section I intend moving a few amendments which will meet the objections. For the rest I think the Bill will be approved on all sides of the House. With regard to section 1 I just wish to say that we feel the difficulty in extensive districts of holding one general meeting per annum and therefore it is proposed to allow of the holding of more general meetings. In large districts such as Lydenburg and Rustenburg it is very difficult to get the required quorum at a meeting and therefore we propose that the aggregate number of persons at more meetings shall be counted for the quorum so that it is easier to get a quorum. In section 2 it is provided that before a society can be registered particulars must be given of the assets of such society. We have had unpleasant experiences in the past in this connection. There was, e.g., a society registered which had spent about £1,100 before registration which was more than the shares of the members of the society. Now it is proposed that the debts and shares of the society must be given because it is an unsound position to register societies without having these particulars. People must not join up in good faith; when a society is registered it must be in a sound position. Section 3 provides that the Minister shall decide whether a society is a cooperative society or not. In the past it appears to have happened that 99 per cent. of a society consisted of farmers but as soon as there was one that was not a producing farmer such a society would not fall under the Co-operative Societies Act, but it must fall under the Companies Act. To obviate this undesirable state of things it is left to the Minister to say whether a society is co-operative and should therefore be registered under the Co-operative Societies Act. Section 4 provides that directors can delegate their powers to other persons. The directors of co-operative societies often live far distant from each other and it is not always possible for them to attend all meetings of directors. Hence the amendment. Section 5 just provides that if the address of the secretary of a co-operative society is changed through resignation or removal then the new address must be given to the registrar of co-operative societies so that he can keep in touch with the society and always have the address. Section 6 deals with the holding of meetings. The Act of 1922 provides that if a general meeting is held and there is no quorum that then another general meeting shall be held eight days later and the persons present shall form a quorum. We find that this is not quite a sound principle that if there are two people at such a meeting the small meeting should pass resolutions binding the whole society. As in section 1 so it is also provided here that various meetings can be held and that the quorum shall consist of me aggregate of the various meetings as long as the subject of discussion at the meeting is the same. Section 7 makes it possible now for a society which is affiliated to a central or federal company to have as a representative one who is a member of a co-operative society. The object of section 26 of the existing Act was that only members of co-operative societies can represent such societies at meetings of a central or federal company. Section 8 only removes a misunderstanding under the old Act it was not possible for a federal company to amalgamate with another federal company. Section 9 provides that on dissolution of a society an inventory of all assets and liabilities must be sent to the registrar and lays down whether a liquidator is necessary or not. If the amount of the assets is below £100 the director can probably himself wind up the affairs and a liquidator need not be appointed which will obviate heavy expense. Section 10 only lays down that the expenses of liquidation shall be brought up in the liquidation account. Then we come to section 11. As hon. members know there were often difficulties in the past through a society being registered as a co-operative society while it legally was not a co-operative society and two meetings had first to be held before the alteration in the register of the registrar could be made. Now the Minister of Agriculture can order that the word “co-operative” can be deleted from the name of the company and the procedure mentioned is not necessary. Section 12: in the Act of 1922 a period was fixed within which co-operative societies which were registered under the Companies Societies Act, could be registered under the Co-operative Societies Act. The societies which had decided upon that so altered their articles of association of course that they fell under the Co-operative Societies Act but there are certain societies that did not take advantage of the opportunity because they were a little afraid of the Co-operative Societies Act but who would like to join to-day. Therefore it is here provided that they will be given the opportunity for a further period of three months to make an application to come under the Co-operative Societies Act. Section 13: there were two co-operative societies—one in Bedford and one in East Griqualand who were not registered at all, and under this section an opportunity is given to those societies to register under the Co-operative Societies Act. Section 14 is just to remove difficulties as to cases in the courts of law. We have found in the past that a society decides one day to join up with a co-operative society and the next it can be registered under the Companies Act. The Farmers’ Co-operative Meat Industries, e.g., was registered under the Companies Act and on the commencement of the Co-operative Societies Act asked to be registered under the Co-operative Societies Act. After the F.C.M.I. was taken over by the Imperial Cold Storage the F.C.M.I. took up the attitude that it had been illegally registered under the Cooperative Societies Act. The F.C.M.I. would not dissolve, and to comply with a contract with the Imperial Cold Storage, they went to the Supreme Court for a ruling on the question whether they had been legally registered under the Co-operative Societies Act. The decision was in favour of the F.C.M.I.. To prevent a society being able in this way to sell its assets to another company this amendment in the Act is proposed. Section 15: Co-operative societies are already exempted from stamp duty on shares. As co-operative societies with unlimited liability are also exempted from taxation on income, and capital provision is made in the Bill that societies with limited liability will also get the same privileges. The Bill also provides that co-operative societies are exempted from taxation on dividends or turnover in order to remove a doubt which now exists on the point with the Receiver of Revenue. Section 16 has reference to the insurance of the produce of co-operative societies. As hon. members possibly know, one of the provisions of the Insurance Act is that £5,000 must be deposited with the treasury before an insurance company can commence operations. I want to leave this matter entirely to the decision of the House. The reason for the exemption is that the cooperative societies only insure the products, live stock or building which the society requires, and does not go in for general insurance, and also because no insurance will be gone in for by co-operative societies if such an amount has to be deposited. The Co-operative Societies Act makes provision for insurance by co-operative societies, but the Insurance Act makes it impossible for the societies to undertake such work. I leave it to hon. members to decide whether the co-operative societies should get the privilege. I think so, but I do not wish to force my views on this point. Section 17: This section lays down that a co-operative society will have the preference on produce of a member who goes insolvent, but such preference will only be for the amount of any advances made on the produce. In connection with section 18, various objections have been raised and protests filed with me. I am quite prepared to meet hon. members with reference to this section. One of the farmer members of this House asked that we should alter the provisions that the members of co-operative societies should produce at least 75 per cent. I am prepared to meet him at the committee stage. A second point which has been brought up is with reference to the kind of produce that falls under the section. I only wish to say that I intend at the committee stage to propose an amendment of such a nature that, by agricultural produce, shall be understood tobacco and all other produce obtained from farming operations, whether the produce undergoes change or not as a result of one or other process applied thereto, which the Governor-General, with the approval of both Houses of Parliament, shall approve of coming under this term. I therefore believe that I have met the objections in connection with this section also. Parliament will first have to decide before an article falls under it. The amendment which I propose, indeed, brings tobacco under the Act of compulsory co-operation as soon as 75 per cent. of a circle sell through the society. Then the objection has been raised that for the people who remain outside, the tobacco possibly will not be well classified. I have, to meet that point, another amendment, which I will propose later, which provides that the Minister can appoint an official who shall be paid by the co-operative society to see that the produce is properly classified in accordance with the requirements of the Act. Section 19 deals with small co-operative societies. The Act provides that an accountant must be appointed to go into the books. This means fairly high expenses, and here an amendment is made that the Minister can appoint any competent person to go into the books. It will come out cheaper. The schedule proposes a few more small amendments which hon. members doubtless have already read. We propose, e.g., that the annual report must be read out. It happened that the report was only laid on the director’s table without its being read out to the meeting. We do not think that that is right, the members ought to know what is going on. Therefore the reading aloud of the report is made compulsory. These are the chief points. As I have said, the existing Co-operative Societies Act is of great importance, and is a good Act, but here and there are weaknesses which we must remedy by this amendment Bill. I hope the House will allow this Bill to go through quickly. I move the second reading.


As one who takes great interest in the co-operative society movement, I should not like to say anything which would damage co-operation in the country, because I am convinced that co-operation is almost the only means that we have for the salvation of the farmer. But I feel obliged to utter a warning about the direction which the co-operative society legislation has taken in the country. I am surprised to see that the hon. Minister of Agriculture, in his Bill here, has also adopted the principle of compulsory co-operation. I remember that before the meeting of Parliament a deputation went to Pretoria to see the Minister, and that he told the deputation that he was opposed to the principle of compulsory co-operation. I do not know what representations have been made to him since that time, and what influences have been brought to bear upon him, and why he has altered his opinion. We do not know why he has done this, and I hope that in his reply he will tell us. We have, unfortunately, created the precedent here in Parliament. When the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) came as Prime Minister with a Bill to regulate the wine industry, we issued a warning from the opposite side that it was the thin end of the wedge, and that it would also later be proposed for mealies and other agricultural produce. The wine farmers came first, then the fruit exchange came for control over the export of fruit. Then the ostrich farmers came, and, to-day, we have already got to tobacco. I have letters here from mealie growers who also want mealies to come under this Bill, and that we should make it 50 per cent. instead of 75.


Carry out the wishes of the people.


Yes, but it is the members of the existing co-operative societies who make this request to us and thereby they admit that voluntary co-operation has proved a failure, and that we should make it obligatory. I remember that Sir Horace Plunkett, when he was here, became nervous when he read what the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) wished to propose in this connection, and when he saw all the limitations and obligations. He would certainly have dropped down dead if he had seen what the Minister is proposing here. He said that cooperation should come about spontaneously. I also agree with that. It is a business just like other businesses in the country, and just as little as a trader can base his business on the sentiment that his fellow countrymen will buy from him, just so little will one make a success of a co-operative society if one wants to compel persons to belong to it. But if we want to compel everybody, then we still have a good ground to stand on, as is laid down in the case of wine farming. But here we have only a small portion of the tobacco growers. It is said that the Bill will be applied to specified circles. How large are those circles going to be, and where are we going to draw them in the future? I want here to say in parentheses that I have every sympathy with the tobacco planters, and that they have a redoubtable opponent in the trust company of manufacturers who are worldwide and powerful. They are in a very difficult position. Moreover, I acknowledge that co-operation is much hampered by the fact that the people have not yet been sufficiently educated up to it, and are not quite ripe for it. The traders are, in general, opposed to the co-operative society, and they do their utmost to kill those societies. But yet I do not see that we shall save the co-operative societies by making it obligatory if 75 per cent. of a stated class of farmers belong to it.


The Bill does not say so.


I am coming to that later. What is now going to be the consequences hereof? We find that co-operative societies who handle 75 per cent. of the produce of farmers cannot make a success of it on account of the lack of business capacity or one shortcoming or another, and therefore we now wish to compel the other farmers to put all the produce in the hands of the co-operative societies. The co-operative society will for a time be satisfied with this monopoly that it has obtained, but how long will this last? After a few years the co-operative society will again come up against a wall. It cannot get further. The produce cannot be sold. There is overproduction or some other difficulty, and then the tobacco farmers come to Parliament and say that the State must take over all the tobacco. The ostrich farmers have done so. They come to ask for a levy, and they spoke so nicely that we granted it. Did it do any good? A deputation has now come to the Minister of Agriculture to ask him to take over the feathers. Obligatory co-operation takes away all the initiative of the people. If co-operation is worth its name it must offer certain benefits to the public so that it will compel the man outside to see that it is in his interests to join the co-operative society. But if we compel unwilling people to join they will only be a brake on those who wish to co-operate.


They do not become members.


But their produce is controlled by the co-operative society, and that makes them practically members of the cooperative society. I now wish to go a step further. Let us consider the practical difficulties connected with the matter. The Minister says that the 25 per cent. will be obliged to sell their produce through the co-operative society. They are not members of the society and therefore have no say and responsibility. It is true he said that there will be a person who will look after their interests in the classification of the produce, but this is only a very small part of the business of a co-operative society. The sale of the produce is the great matter. The co-operative society can also say what the advances shall be. Over that then they have nothing to say. They also have nothing to say as to how much shall be deducted for the strengthening of the reserve funds. Can we, therefore, expect that the people will be satisfied with such a condition of things? This Bill can also be abused. Take a society with unlimited liability. The people become dissatisfied with it. They can now easily get out of the difficulty by saying that those who remain outside the co-operative society shall have their produce also sold by the society and that they shall have no responsibility. For this reason they leave the society and the whole thing will be a failure. If we cannot carry on the co-operative societies voluntarily on business principles then we had better give them up.


And if we cannot get them voluntarily?


Then it is not worth the trouble of having them. The people who cannot go further with the matter always come to the Government to assist them. There is, of course, a difference of opinion. The hon. member for Oudtshoorn (Mr. le Roux) is in favour of the Bill because in his district there is a co-operative society of tobacco farmers, but I have no co-operative society amongst my farmers, and therefore I can regard the matter from an impartial point of view. I think that we should be very careful. The policy to be pursued is only a matter of opinion. My feeling may be wrong. I hope so heartily. But my experience of co-operation warns me that the country is on the wrong road with compulsory cooperation which we wish to import here. It may be that it will kill the development of co-operation in the country because we know that where people were inclined to form a co-operative society they were always encouraged when they thought that if they had no confidence in the directors or did not agree with the action of the co-operative society they then had the opportunity of retiring from the society. Our people are very scared of the word compulsion. I hope that the Minister is right in his view and that I am wrong, but I want to repeat that we must be very careful in this matter.

*Lt.-Col. H. S. GROBLER:

I only wish to say that I entirely agree with what the hon. member for Waterberg (Mr. van Niekerk) has said here. He has had a painful experience of co-operation and he knows what he is talking about. He is cautious, and I support the line he has taken. Sometime ago, when the South African party were in power, they commenced with this kind of thing. I was opposed to it, and I shall remain opposed. If we want to make a success of co-operation then we must lead the people and not drive them. In all this co-operative legislation which we have in this country we do not see anywhere that encouragement is given to the people to join up voluntarily nor do we find it in this Kill. Then further we see that there is again to be a new appointment of a person who must keep an eye to the interests of the non-members. There will, of course, also have to be clerks under him, and this makes our co-operative societies too dear, so that we cannot see what the advantage of it will be. The great harm in the Bill is that it contains the principle of compulsion. It is a wrong principle to compel the man to place his estate in another’s hands. It is socialistic, and I do not agree with it for a moment. The State begins here with tobacco and soon we shall be asked to go further, even to mealies and other chief products of the Transvaal and elsewhere. As I understood the Minister, we shall later on even be able to extend it to produce such as potatoes and linseed and such things, which are also produced in the Transvaal, after the other great products. I think that that is quite wrong. Our people are afraid of compulsory legislation of this kind. I am in favour of co-operative societies, but one must make them attractive so that the men outside can see that they have advantages and that it will not be in their interest to remain outside. We meant well with the co-operative societies in the Transvaal, but what a failure they were. Many farmers went insolvent through them, and I myself know of 150 farmers who thereby got into great difficulty, namely, with the Eastern Co-operative Society, into which legislation had forced them. That made the farmers afraid, and I will not give my vote for compulsory legislation such as is here proposed. We must not get the people into the co-operative societies in this manner. I shall not support it, because we will reap the bitter fruit of it. We know that it is the case that the members of the co-operative societies can themselves propose nothing. The directors are there, and they are often not the desired persons, but who got into that position for family considerations or other reasons. My opinion is that we should have business men to carry on the matter on business lines. The co-operative societies in my constituency are progressing, but if the people are notified that they are compelled to be members of the societies the whole thing will collapse. We must allow the thing to pursue its own course and permit the people to be attracted by the advantages which the co-operative society offers. I do not wish to speak more on this matter. The Minister means well, but he is going to make the matter very difficult. What are the profits of the farmer to-day in mealies or tobacco?


What has that to do with it?

*Lt.-Col. H. S. GROBLER:

We must pay the officials as members of the co-operative society, and where are we going to get our profits from if we make the business so expensive? We have a large quantity of mealies which we have to sell at 10s. a bag. The cooperative societies here and there enter into a contract, but we get no more for it. The Minister must be careful and accept the advice of people who have experience in these matters. He must not compel us.


I have no desire to attack the principles of co-operation, but there are certain features of the Bill requiring attention. Section 15 grants to co-operative societies exemption from income tax, licence duty and other taxes or duties of a like nature. This means preferential treatment for one section of the community against another. Whilst Clause 15 is bad enough, clause 16 is indefensible. Two years ago Parliament passed its principal Act and in clause 3 it is set out in an innocent subsection (p) the right to carry on business of banking and insurance under the co-operative system. Only two years ago the Insurance Act was passed by Parliament. Under this Act and especially under clause 16 is given the power to set up insurance companies right throughout the country on the co-operative system. That I regard as a highly dangerous proceeding and one that should not be countenanced by Parliament.


Why dangerous?


Dangerous in so far as it is a most risky and highly technical business and they are courting disaster in embarking upon a business that the ordinary farmer knows nothing whatever about.


It is their loss, if they lose.


The same with regard to banking. Surely these are not matters which fall within the scope of co-operative societies. Then again in clause 18 we find that when the Minister is satisfied that in any district the growers of at least 75 per cent. of agricultural produce are members of a co-operative agricultural society or company, he is empowered to declare that each grower in that district shall sell produce grown by him through the society or company whether he be a member or not. Thus 75 per cent. may impose their will by Government regulation on the remaining 25 per cent. Surely that is a most extraordinary provision and one of such a compulsory nature as has never been heard of before. Talk about trades unionism, this beats it to a frazzle. I only desire to draw attention to those extraordinary clauses. I do not say a word at all against the principle of cooperation, but to introduce such extraordinary features in a Bill of this nature seems to me to be entirely wrong, and I trust that, when the Minister comes to examine them, and the Bill gets into committee, these particular clauses will be excised.


I am sorry that I must also warn the Minister against compulsory co-operation. You can lead a farmer, but you cannot drive him nor is it right. A farmer works hard, makes all sorts of plans to earn a living, and then to come and to drive him into something against his will is wrong. There are various hon. members in this House who are constantly speaking about co-operation. I also did that and also proposed the greatest happiness to myself from co-operation, but co-operation can also lead to bankruptcy. That is not an unknown thing. Co-operation is a very good thing in principle but some of the hon. members who cry out so for co-operation know nothing about it. I myself have experience of co-operation. I was for years myself a member of a co-operative society and was for six or seven years one of the directors. I made every sacrifice for it. But the point is we have examples of it in my constituency that people have already suffered from two or three bankruptcies of co-operative societies. There was one man who suffered when the Pretoria Co-operative Society went insolvent, who then went to Bethal and on the terrible insistence of his neighbours again joined a co-operative society. The Bethal society then went bankrupt. He then came to Middelburg. I have already said that I myself was a director of the co-operative society there, but if the Government had not lent us £18,000 last year then our society would also have had to go insolvent. That man has therefore had three experiences, and how can we now compel him to join a co-operative society? The time for co-operative societies in South Africa has yet to come. We must not forget that the countries where co-operation is such a success are old countries with a close development. We must have patience, the time for co-operative societies will come in our country. I repeat that the principle of co-operation is quite good, but I say that the farmer must naturally be led to it, he must not be compelled. Now the hon. Minister wants to adopt the principle that if a society has as members 75 per cent. of the farmers in a certain district, that then the other farmers of that area shall be obliged to join up with the co-operative societies. I am against compulsion, it will not assist at all. The principle has already been introduced in wine farming. Very well, but we were always afraid to lay down the principle, because we felt that the great danger existed that step by step the principle would be extended in other directions, first one product, then another and so on, and that the farmers’ liberty would be taken away more and more. That compulsion is not right especially with reference to people who have already had terrible experience with co-operative societies. We are tying up the farmer so tightly that he cannot turn himself. We ought surely to think a little that he works hard and leave him a say over his own affairs. Why from time to time then are laws being made to tie him up? He has no guarantee at all when he is compelled to join that he will suffer no damage. I as a representative of the voters of Middelburg feel that my voters will not approve of this and I am not in favour of the institution of this compulsion. However good the principle of co-operation may be if we go to-day and enforce co-operation we will not improve matters. The Minister certainly will not gain the approval of the people in Middelburg with this legislation. The farmer will simply say if I am so interfered with then I shall leave the thing alone and do something else. Hon. members who have no experience of co-operation at all must not shout so much in favour of it. I cannot give my vote in favour of this. The people of Middelburg will not approve of it. In any case I hope that if the Minister is going to push this Bill through he will appreciate that we must put a stop to these sort of things. To-day it is tobacco, to-morrow maize and so we go on and the liberty of the farmers is curtailed.


If the point of view of the hon. member for Middelburg (Mr. Heyns) is correct then the prospect with regard to co-operation in South Africa is a sad one. The hon. members for Middelburg (Mr. Heyns), Bethal (Lt.-Col. H. S. Grobler) and Waterberg (Mr, van Niekerk) have all said that they are all well acquainted with co-operative matters and societies and duties of members of co-operative societies. I can say myself as regards my district that after in 1908 the first cooperative societies Act was passed in the Transvaal Parliament and in 1909 a co-operative society was established in Lydenburg, of which I was not only a member, but have for years right up-to-date always been one of the directors, and it gives me pleasure to be able to say that we did not have to battle with the same difficulties and reverses as other districts. But let me say at once that this is not at all because in my opinion the management of the Lydenburg society was better than in other districts or that our members showed more cooperation than in other districts, but the reason is that we had to do with the difficulties in connection with the disposal of maize, the continuous mounting and dropping of the price of maize, etc. Our chief product is wheat and always the whole harvest of the district of all members has been sold in one block, and all the trouble in connection with advances, etc., we have not experienced. Thus if I speak strongly in favour of co-operation I want at once to point out that we did not have to contend with the difficulties of other districts. Now as regards the Bill I think we must divide it into two parts. One section contains a new principle and the rest is of an administrative nature. As regards the administrative part it is natural that with a new matter such as cooperation it cannot be expected that immediately at the beginning the Act should be perfect. That is the way with all things in the world, that new points of view come up and fresh difficulties are discovered, and they have of course then to be got over. So it is with reference to the regulations and to the Act on co-operative societies itself, and the difficulties must be removed. For that purpose the Bill serves and I do not think there will be much opposition in that respect. Only one observation has been made as regards the paying of the licences and about the exemption from income tax so far as the reserve capital and the interest thereon is concerned, but I do not think that these are great objections. There are some points as regards administration about which, as a matter of fact, I have something to say but I can do this in committee. The chief matter however is section 18. I think that if section 18 in the form now before us were submitted to our electors the large majority of them would be opposed to it. Why? Because it is felt that the success of co-operation depends on the preparedness of farmers to take part in it. As soon as any compulsion is exercised, as soon as it is obligatory to belong to a co-operative society, it will find no favour with many people. And the hon. Minister not only makes it compulsory for members of co-operative societies to deliver their produce to the cooperative society, but actually people outside the society will also be compelled to dispose of their produce through the society. I believe that the Minister is going a little far there. Of course if anyone becomes a member of a co-operative society then the articles of association of the society themselves bind him to dispose of his produce through the society, but, to compel other persons to do the same is going a little too far. I also think that this Bill has been brought in by the Minister not so much because it is of great importance to the farmer or in the interest of co-operative societies but to assist in certain special cases where co-operative societies are in difficulties, but whether this will be approved by the farmers of the Transvaal, even the supporters of co-operation, I doubt very much. I believe that the Minister will achieve complete success by his Bill if he drops section 18. It is true that his amendments have to a certain extent reassured me. As they are here all produce fall under them, but according to the amendment of the Minister tobacco would in any case fall under them while that is not necessarily the case with other products. It therefore seems to me that this section was especially necessary to meet the tobacco industry. It is a relief to me to hear from the Minister that he will go so far as to propose and amendment that it shall only apply to tobacco and then subsequently to such products as both Houses of Parliament may from time to time think fit. When this amendment comes up for discussion I think it will appear that a large number of farmer members are decidedly opposed to section 18. As regards other points of administration I hope to come back to them in committee and I will then propose a few small amendments. But the chief point is section 18 and I really think that the Minister is going a little far in laying such compulsion and obligation on the farmers.

†*Mr. LE ROUX:

I hope that the Minister will not allow himself to be frightened by the speeches which have so far been made. I certainly think that it is only the discontented persons who have spoken so far and that from now those who take an interest in this matter will give the necessary support to this Bill so that it can soon be placed on the statute book. It was interesting for me to see that hon. members nearly all spoke about the general principle of compulsory co-operation and did not deal with the actual matter which is here proposed. The idea of the hon. Minister is not to make co-operation generally compulsory but just to make it compulsory for the producers of a special product who ask for it, namely, the tobacco farmers. We adopted the principle long ago. We approve of the principle with reference to our wine farming and with reference to various cases which I shall mention later. I want to acknowledge that voluntary co-operation is the ideal condition of things but that can only be obtained among people who have been educated to the idea of co-operation. Unfortunately in consequence of wrong education in South Africa the farming population have not yet been educated up to that idea. Our farmers are still inclined to act individually. In the past the necessity for standing together has not been so great because they then always had an easy market for their products. The market came to them and they did not look for it. But as soon as the inland market became limited and the market no longer came to the farmer he found out that the time had come to stand together or otherwise to abandon the ground. That is the position we are in to-day with reference to certain products in the country and common action by the farmers is very necessary. But our farmers are not yet educated up to acting in common and therefore the only thing is to assist the people by way of legislation to act jointly. Therefore legislation of this nature is decidedly worthy of approval with reference to produce for which the inland market is inadequate and for which a foreign market must be created. There is no doubt that the tobacco farmers especially welcome this legislation. About a year ago a congress of tobacco producers was held in Johannesburg and tobacco farmers from all over the Union unanimously decided there to ask the Government to bring such legislation before the House, and to put it through and if the farmers unanimously ask for it I think it would be unreasonable if we do not comply with their request. The hon. member for Waterberg (Mr. van Niekerk) has said that the farmers are not yet ripe to-day for co-operation. I do not agree with him at all. If one goes to-day to the farmer he says: yes, co-operation is good but then we must all cooperate, and that is just what we want to do by this Bill. We are going to give them what they want, 100 per cent. and they state that they will be satisfied with that. Therefore hon. members will agree with me that the Minister does not go too far when he applies the principle in the manner proposed. I admit however that hitherto co-operation has not been the success in our country that was expected, but that is the result of the special circumstances of our country with reference to co-operation. There exists to-day a certain amount of prejudice against co-operation in South Africa but we must remember that the conditions in South Africa are entirely different to those in other parts of the world and we must remember that the conditions in South Africa make co-operation much more difficult here than in other countries of the world. In the first place our farmers do not all belong to the same well-off class and further not to the same degree of education to make co-operation easy. In other countries we have more or less amongst the farmers a well-off class but it is not so here. You have your rich farmers and your poor farmers, and this makes it very difficult in South Africa to get all the farmers to stand together." Moreover the difference in education is also great. In many cases it has been entirely neglected. The children in South Africa have in the past only got an academic training and it was omitted to teach them the most important thing to educate them in agricultural matters and we cannot now go and wait until the people are educated up to the ideal conditions, otherwise the farming class would be ruined. A second factor which makes co-operation in South Africa so very difficult in contoa-distinction to other countries is that the farmers here live so far from each other. The long distances make it difficult to meet and to decide to form a co-operative society. In other countries where co-operation is such a great success, such as Denmark and Germany, the people live close together and co-operation is much easier. Therefore we must use other means in South Africa to get the necessary co-operation and a certain amount of compulsion is necessary in this respect. A third factor is the limitation of the market already referred to. As long as the local market provides sufficient outlet co-operation is not necessary because then the market comes to the farmer, but if the local market becomes too small then the farmer finds out that he has to sell the produce at reduced prices and even under cost price. Other countries have unlimited outlets to their own markets. They are never faced by over production and can dispose of their produce at any time, but here we do not only need to send our produce to the markets but also have often to create the markets. That is especially the case for the tobacco grower. We must find a market for export and, therefore, it is necessary for the farmers to stand together to find a market. Another hindrance to co-operation in our country is the prejudice that is created to a large extent by the slack management hitherto—a weak management which did not lead to success. But we know that, after the experience that has been gained, co-operation is now commencing to become a success. Then we also know the financial difficulties which existed and which were, to a great extent, the result of careless ness and too little business knowledge. I should like to see that the financial part and the marketing of produce should be entirely separated, that the land bank to a certain extent should have the supervision of the co-operative societies, grant certain facilities and take the business portion of the industry upon itself. Those people have experience, and will not make serious mistakes. The management of the societies can then look solely after the marketing of the produce. This is the system that is followed in America, and that is why the co-operative society system is such a success there. Another cause of the prejudice against co-operative societies is that, in the past, members of the co-operative societies were very disloyal to their society, which consequently became a failure. Therefore this legislation is so necessary to-day for the tobacco industry. Just look at Rustenburg, where 70-80 per cent, of the farmers belong to the co-operative societies. What do we find? Constantly pressure is being brought to bear upon the people to make them disloyal to the co-operative society. As soon as a certain percentage join together influences are at work trying to divide them. And it is interesting to see who the people are that are against this Bill. They are not farmers. I do not know of a single meeting of farmers where they protested against this legislation. On the contrary, meetings of farmers have suggested to insert 55 per cent. instead of 75 per cent. The protests find their origin with the people who benefit by the farmers not being united. Another difficulty which has always stood in the way of co-operation is the fear of responsibility. I must admit that in this respect also a change must be made. The feeling hitherto has always been that co-operative societies should have unlimited liability, and those were the first societies which were created. I think they are the ideal kind of co-operative societies, but prejudice exists against them. You do not get the rich people to bear the responsibility. The consequence is that the farmers do not belong to the same well-off class that the societies with unlimited liability are not a success. The rich man does not wish to be responsible for the poor man. That is the difficulty. The responsibility frightens the rich man, and I think that, in this respect, an alteration should be made. We must see that companies with limited liability should be created, which will include the rich as well as the poor. A great difficulty as already said in the way of co-operation is that 100 per cent. are not included. That is why I am in favour of it if 75 per cent. of the farmers ask for it to make co-operation compulsory. If 75 per cent. ask for it, then we can infer that the farmers are all in favour of it, and I think that it is wrong to enable a small minority to cause the cooperation to be a failure, because, for success, 100 per cent. is necessary. In this Bill the compulsory co-operation is limited to tobacco. The principle of compulsory co-operation is not strange in the legislation of our country. It applies to viticulture, but the principle has also been adopted in the Irrigation Act under which compulsory co-operation also exists. If a two-thirds majority is in favour of it, the one-third majority must submit to it. The same thing applies to fencing. And in these cases it has been a success so far, because otherwise, we should not now have further requests to also apply it to other industries. For the tobacco industry this legislation is highly necessary today. I even say that if this Bill is not passed it will be a great disaster to the tobacco farmers of South Africa. Until quite recently we were able to dispose of our tobacco locally, but to-day the local market has become too small, and the tobacco farmers will be obliged to co-operate for two reasons. In the first place to retain the local market. As to this I just wish to point out, as the result of a want of co-operation in South Africa, the tobacco farmers are on the way to even lose the local market. The manufacture of tobacco in the Union is about 15,000,000 lbs. annually. The production in the Union in 1917 was 15,000,000, and in Rhodesia in 1917 about 620.000 lbs. In 1921 we see indications that the Union production has increased, because in that year it was 16,500,000 lbs., but in the meantime the production in Rhodesia and export to the Union, in consequence, was increased from 620.000 lbs. to 2.378,000 lbs. Owing to the import from Rhodesia and to the local market having become smaller, the tobacco farmers of the Union had trouble in 1921 in disposing of their produce with the result that the production of the Union in 1922 dropped from 16.500 000 lbs. to 9,800,000 lbs., as the result of loss of the local market, but also partly as a result of the tax on tobacco Rhodesia has in the meantime been steadily exporting more and increasing its produce. In 1922 the imports from Rhodesia into the Union were 3.500.000 lbs, and in 1923, when the production in the Union was 9,670,000 lbs., the importations from Rhodesia were 3,900,000 lbs. for South Rhodesia-, 650,000 lbs. for North Rhodesia, total from Rhodesia in 1922 4,550,000 lbs. During 1924 (last year) the imports from South Rhodesia were 4.594,000 lbs. and from North Rhodesia 870,000 lbs., total 5½ million lbs. The imports from Rhodesia have therefore increased by leaps and bounds since 1917 and the produce of the Union is being pushed out. Rhodesia has 5½ millions against the Union 9,000,000 lbs. If things go on like this and we get no protection the result will be that tobacco production in the Union will have to cease entirely because the farmer will not be able to make a living out of it. To obviate this we must be protected against Rhodesia. We remember that a great deal of tobacco was also imported in 1914 into the Union from Nyassaland, but by the alteration in the tariff this was stopped and Nyassaland now exports the tobacco to Europe. In 1914 this country exported 275,000 lbs. to Europe, in 1923 4,900,000 lbs., and in 1924 6,300,000 lbs. We therefore see that Nyassaland exports to Europe but Rhodesia exports to the Union. The exports to the Union pays Rhodesia well and it is a close market. We must therefore try to retain our inland market. We must therefore try to retain our inland market but also see that we get an entry into the foreign market. We can produce much more and the requirements of the world market are very great. If we want to get an entrance into the world market then we must make our tobacco better and send large shipments regularly oversea. For that purpose it is necessary for the farmers to co-operate. The production of the world market in 1913 was 2,624,000,000 lbs. In 1923 we find that the figures, excluding British India and Russia, are 1,760,000,000 lbs. If we add India and Russia respectively with 960,000,000 and 120,000,000 lbs., then we get a total production in 1923 of 2,800,000,000 lbs. That is the world production to-day and South Africa has 9,000,000 lbs., that is not quite .3 or .4 per cent of the world’s production. This shows the possibilities in this field, and therefore co-operation is so necessary for all. My hon. friend here asks if the market in Europe is good. Yes, provided the article is well made. We can do it, and we have the quality and the ground to produce much more. We must only manufacture our tobacco as other countries do which sell the Virginia kinds in Europe. The greatest producing country in the world is the United States, which in 1923 produced 1,474,000,000 lbs., of which more than half was exported. Hungary’s production in 1913 was 146.000,000 lbs., now 134,000,000 lbs. as a result of the war, but it will surely increase again. Russia, in 1913, 232,000,000 lbs., to-day about 120,000,000 lbs.; British India, in 1913, 450,000.000 lbs. Now I have here two figures 960 or 520,000,000 lbs. Let us take the average of 700,000 000 lbs. Japan produced 93,000,000 lbs. in 1913, 149,000,000 in 1922; Brazil 99,000,000 and 177,000,000; Dutch India 94,000,000 and 83,000,000 lbs. Thus we see what a great outlet there is for tobacco. Our production is only .3 per cent. of the world’s production. The chief importing countries are England, about 211,000,000 lbs. Germany 196,000,000, France 128,000,000. Italy 63,000,000, and the Netherlands 64,000,000 lbs. I mention these countries to show where South Africa can find markets, and our trade commissioner in Europe must try and approach those countries to extend our connection. We therefore have no need to be afraid of over-production. We can produce much more because there is an unlimited demand. Then there is another side to the matter. There is no farming which gives a better opportunity for large numbers of people to make a living than the tobacco industry. It is especially the small poor man who can make a living there out of tobacco farming, and the industry is especially suited to advance closer settlement. We now have the irrigation schemes. Let us take advantage of the opportunity to make a success of them by tobacco culture. But our farmers must stand together, and in the circumstances a certain amount of compulsion to co-operate is necessary. I approve of the Bill of the hon. Minister.


I think there is no doubt about there being agreement on all sides of the House with regard to the absolute necessity for greater co-operation among the farmers of this country. It has been the solution of difficulties in other countries, and it will be the solution of ours in a large measure, I think. With regard to this contentious Clause 18, this introduces, many people think, a new idea into co-operation, the idea of compulsion. I would, at the same time, like to point out that compulsory co-operation is not a new idea in this country. We had the wine industry at one time almost on its last legs and the wine growers in a state of desperation. Two years ago the last Government introduced exactly what this clause embodies, that is, compulsory co-operation. I have spoken to many of the wine farmers and I do not think there is one who would go back to the old position they were in before compulsory co-operation brought them together. We have passed through the House this session a Fruit-Export Bill. What is that but compulsory co-operation? What is good in one or two industries surely we can modify to apply to other articles of production in the farming industry. We have already had compulsory co-operation without the safeguards we have in this clause to-day. If this clause had stood as it was originally drafted; that is, 75 per cent. of the produce of anyone area or society, I would have said it was a dangerous clause, that might give the big men an opportunity of bringing the small man under their heel. When it is made to apply to 75 per cent. of the growers, who are producing 75 per cent. of the article, whatever it might be, I think it is a safeguard which does away with any danger. What does it mean? If you have 75 per cent. of the producers you may be sure you have 75 per cent. of the progressive farmers. The 25 per cent. lagging behind are the 25 per cent. representing the retrogressive section. We know what the result is when 25 per cent. of any article is left uncontrolled on the market; then the opportunity of trusts and combines comes in. I do ask all farmers to look at it from the point of view that you get 75 per cent. progressive men who have built up a society to control whatever product they are interested in, it is only reasonable, when they have attained that object, that the remaining retrogressive farmers should be brought into line. I do hope we shall all support the Minister in this, because I think iris one further step on the road to attaining ideal co-operation in this country. There are only two other points to which I want to refer. One is Clause 15. which provides for the remission of duties to co-operative societies. There is going to be a certain amount of opposition to this clause on behalf of the commercial element. I would like to point out that the benefits of the Bill are not confined to co-operative societies of producers, but that co-operative societies of consumers can equally claim a remission of taxation. We hear a great deal of the high cost of living, which is given as the reason for the raising of wages. One of the causes of the high cost of living is the tremendous difference between the price paid by the consumer and the prices paid to the producer. If the Bill does nothing else but encourage consumers to form co-operative societies to purchase direct from the producers it will justify its existence. I hope the House will not be led away by representations from the commercial element to vote against this clause. It is also reasonable that co-operative insurance societies should be absolved from the necessity of making a deposit of £5,000 which the ordinary insurance company is compelled to make. For many years we ran a hail insurance scheme in Griqualand East, and it was very successful, but if these concerns are compelled to deposit £5,000 it will be impossible for farmers to form such societies. I hope we shall not jump to conclusions and say, because the word “compulsion” has an ugly sound that we shall throw the clause out. If we weigh up the pros and the cons, we shall find that the pros will offer far greater advantages than the cons offer disadvantages. The Bill is going to advance co-operation, and to assist us in putting the farming industry on a sounder basis than it is to-day.


I have found myself during this session so bitterly opposed to some of the methods of the Minister of Agriculture that it gives me all the greater pleasure to be able to record my hearty support to this Bill, which is a move in the right direction.


This time you are right.


We generally are.


Unless you can secure uniformity in quality and bulk we shall never be able to build up an export trade, and until we can do that we shall have to live on one another. Now I have, during the past 25 years, been more or less closely associated with four rather considerable co-operative efforts—not as a director but as a member. Two of them have failed and two of them have succeeded. The reasons for the failures are well known. In one case the society could not depend upon the loyalty of its members, and in the other it dabbled in business and in matters with which they were not concerned and of which they knew little or nothing about. When a co-operative society specially organized to deal with agricultural pursuits embarks on enterprizes which we experts after many years of experience are competent to deal with, failure and disaster follow rapidly in its course. That is a great danger. Co-operation depends, speaking broadly, for its success on three main factors and the first of these is the voluntary spirit. I think it would be fatal to impose any Act upon the country which would compel the producer, against his will, to become part and parcel of a co-operative organization when his heart was not in the job. Producers must be convinced that it is in their interests to join, and having once joined there must be no looking back, you must be certain of their loyalty. Those who have been interested in co-operative schemes in the past will agree that they have suffered more than anything else from disloyalty among members within the society and not from outside competition. The second factor is the question of production. You want to produce not only in quantity but in quality, and in regard to the third factor, I have found from experience that co-operative production is a comparatively easy process, but you have only achieved a small portion of your object when you have produced your article in bulk and are still not prepared with the co-operative means of distribution. Co-operative distribution is the great thing. Exception has been taken, I know, by the representatives of the town to certain provisions in the Bill. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North), for instance, has taken exception to the clause in the Bill which offers special facilities and advantages to co-operative institutions which are selling the produce. As a matter of fact, although these provisions will affect those agents and auctioneers who, hitherto, have been in this business, and undoubtedly to their detriment the consumers in the towns benefit immeasurably. What has been the great grievance from the point of view both of the producer and the consumer is that there has been far too great a wastage and too great a cost imposed on the article produced by the farmer between the time it leaves his hands and the time it reaches the mouth of the consumer, and this can now be eliminated to a very great extent. It is going to lessen the cost of distribution, and although a few suffer, a great many will reap the benefit. We must cheapen distribution and that is amply provided for in clause 15. Clause 18 does not go far enough but I understood the Minister to say that it is to be amended, and that, as amended in committee, it will read that this co-operative principle will only be applied to those districts where 75 per cent. of the producers, growing 75 per cent. of the produce, agree to it.


Yes, that is so.


I think, under the circumstances, this House could safely pass this Act as this predicts the voluntary principle as far as possible. I congratulate the Minister and thank him for his reasonable action in this matter and I am sure he will be rewarded by the good results which will follow in the country, the wider the Act becomes known and the wider it is applied.

†*Col.-Cdt. COLLINS:

I approve generally of the principle of the Bill. I wish however to identify myself with what has been said by the hon. member for Waterberg (Mr. van Niekerk) and other hon. members about their objection to section 18. The Minister has promised an amendment of the section and that reduces my objections but I should like to see the amendment before we go into committee. I do not wish to vote for an amendment unless I have considered it. The section is far reaching and gives the Minister very great powers. I think that Parliament, in each case, ought to decide as to the application of the section. I am convinced that the less the State meddles in private business the better it is for the business. I am not opposed to co-operation, I helped to pass the first Co-operation Act in the Transvaal. I sympathize with co-operation and I know how difficult it is to get all the people to join the co-operative society but I am against compulsion. Compulsion is against my conscience. I have no interest in tobacco. My electors have no interest in tobacco. If it becomes necessary to apply the principle contained in section 18 to tobacco or ostrich feathers then it must be applied but it must not be applied to all agricultural produce, not to mealies, because our mealies have a good market. We must do everything we can to encourage co-operation, but I am against the principle of compelling people. If we are going to apply force we will do co-operation more harm than good. If this measure is necessary for tobacco then it will be better to insert a special section for tobacco growers or ostrich farmers or wine farmers. This can be done by means of a special Bill. I should not like to see the general principle of compulsion applied. With this reservation I will give my support to the Bill.


I don’t oppose the spirit of co-operation. I consider it should be encouraged. There are features of this Bill that I do not like, and one is where there is exemption from taxation of the co-operative societies.

Business was suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.


After the very favourable reception which has been accorded to this Bill from farmers’ representatives in various parts of the House, I certainly am not going to offer any opposition to it, but I would like to call attention to one or two clauses which, it seems to me, are going to press rather severely upon other people. Where 75 per cent. of the farmers in a district or area come into the co-operative society they will be enabled to force the remaining 25 per cent. to join. It seems to me that that is hardly fair. Then again, there is a provision that co-operative societies shall escape taxation to which other traders are subjected. That again is unfair, because the man who carries on his business in the towns has to pay taxation in the shape of income tax and other Government charges. I would be glad if the Minister would be good enough to take that matter into consideration. Then power is to be given to these co-operative societies to insure the products of the farm. I do not think sufficient consideration has been shown to the insurance companies established in this country in the framing of that provision. These companies pay very heavy licences and, not only do they pay income tax, but they have also to make very big deposits with the State and I am afraid the Minister has overlooked that point. If these co-operative societies are allowed to insure the produce of the farmer, it would be a distinct injustice to the companies which conduct that class of business.


I am pleased the Minister has brought in this Bill. There has been a good deal of adverse criticism of the several headings, adverse criticism on the compulsory clause, and then adverse criticism by our friends who are not farmers on what they say is the relief of taxation. Let us take the latter first. Our friends take exception to this. What does this relief amount to? Take the relief from income tax of the co-operative society. You do not want the farmer to pay on the produce which he sends to the co-operative society a double income tax, because, if you are going to levy income tax on the co-operative society, the farmer has to pay income tax again. Whether it is in the Bill or not, if the society pays the tax, the farmer must be relieved from it. In this case the producer pays it. The money is passed through; it is collected from the co-operative society, and the producer pays income tax on the proceeds of his produce, just as if he were selling the produce himself. I now want to say a few words about compulsion. We know that compulsion is objectionable; we know that the ideal system is a voluntary one; but when we find that the voluntary system breaks down and that on account of its doing so the producer is losing, we must come to his relief, and this is the only way in which we can do so. I would have been pleased if the Minister could have gone further with his compulsory measures. You cannot build up an export market without your producers co-operating as you must have uniformity. You start exporting when you are producing more than your market here requires. What happens? You start to build up your export market, and you ensure by that a good home market. The co-operative society makes the market, and the man who stands outside reaps the benefit. They know that and they are spoiling your market and in the end his also. The co-operative movement should not try to eliminate the middleman. You have to make use of the middleman. If he can do distribution cheaper and better than the co-operative society, keep him there: your aim in the first place should be to provide a depot with an organization so that the producer can be relieved of his produce and the necessary advances be made to him on his produce. When you have secured that, the next step is to market the produce. Unfortunately, it has been necessary to introduce compulsion, and I think we will have to recognise that we shall have to go further with compulsion than we are going now. It is going to be very difficult for any cooperative society dealing with any kind of produce to be able to show to the Legislature at any time that it controls both the 75 per cent. of the producers and the 75 per cent. of the produce. I know the Minister’s difficulty. I would have liked to see it reduced to 60 per cent. and still the co-operative society would have the greatest difficulty in showing the Legislature that it controlled even 60 per cent. of the producers and the produce. Why is this drastic course to be taken? It is to save the producer from himself. There is every temptation held out; and unfortunately you know that a great many organizations and trade channels have taken up an unfortunate antaganistic attitude to co-operative societies. Very often some of your Chambers of Commerce and such organizations, instead of being helpful, are taking up an attitude of antagonism.


You are wrong.


I am glad to hear the hon. Member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) say that I am wrong, because, if I am it shows that a change has been brought about.


You are perfectly right.


The first thing you should do is to look after your production; and commerce will follow. I hope to see, that in a couple of years time we will be able to go a step further and improve your compulsory provisions. You should only make use of compulsion where it is absolutely necessary; but, where it is necessary, we should not hesitate to introduce compulsion. If that drastic measure of compulsion had not been passed in 1924, the wine industry would have been in a condition of chaos and your wine farmers ruined, and to-day there is hardly any wine farmer who is not in favour of the step taken in 1924. That has rescued the wine farmer so far and may, if we act wisely, place us in the position of putting the wine industry on a sound footing. I would say to my farmer friends, don’t fight shy of compulsion. It is necessary at times. We speak about co-operation being voluntary, but we must remember that, in this country, the producers are small in number and scattered over a large area, and do not easily co-operate with one another and that is perhaps one of the reasons—the chief reason I should say—why we have difficulty in getting our producers to co-operate as they should and get the best prices for the articles they produce, not only here but on the other side of the water. Speaking of the markets on the other side of the water, there you also find South African products competing against South African products. You find two co-operative societies, on the other side of the water, selling the same article in competition with one another, which is certainly not in the interests of the producers, and I would once more say to the Minister that he might have gone a step further with his compulsion.

†Brig.-Gen. BYRON:

I always have been a very ardent supporter of co-operation amongst farmers. I am one of those who believe that the only hope of the agricultural industry lies in the extension of co-operation in South Africa. I have had some practical experience of the organization of co-operative societies, and the most valuable experience I got was in studying the cause of failure in the past. Rather more than 20 years ago, co-operation was started on a large scale in the Cape Province and we are greatly indebted to those old pioneers of the movement for many good results that have followed. Co-operation in the Cape Province did not altogether fulfil the high hopes which were entertained of it, and it is very instructive to study the reason for the comparative failure. The tendency was to go too fast. It was not sufficiently recognized that co-operation is, and must be, a plant of very slow growth in South Africa. There are several reasons for that: First of all, the enormous distances separating farmers, which prevents their coming together naturally and working together. And South African farmers have been famed for their independence of spirit and it is a little difficult to induce farmers who, perhaps, have prospered through their independence of thought and action to believe that they might do better by working with others. It takes time to bring about these necessary changes. There is just the danger now that we should accelerate the pace of co-operation too much. I venture to forecast that in a very few years, some Minister of Agriculture will be induced to bring in, not a co-operative amendment, but a co-operative simplification Bill. In time we shall want to have all these measures simplified and made more suitable for use by the farmers. I would like this spirit of co-operation to go a great deal further, and that it should extend so as to include the broker or dealer, we do want their help; but experience shows that, while it is easy to cooperate for production, co-operation for marketing is very difficult indeed. Marketing is highly specialized, no matter what the line may be. We have the world to compete with, and it requires the services of those who have studied the matter of placing our produce, at a profit, on the market, and it is too much to hone that among farmers we will suddenly develop the aptitude for that particular business which is desired, and I hope our co-operative societies will be so conducted that they will inspan to their help those who have technical knowledge, more particularly of the marketing of produce. I have in mind one notable instance of failure of a co-operative society and there the failure may be traced to this cause: That they tried to do things which they were imperfectly acquainted with. One of them started things outside of the ordinary scope of farmers’ experience such as buying ships, and so on: and even entered into building operations. They were not ripe for that, not having the necessary experience or staff, and, as a consequence, this society came to grief. It is in the marketing of produce that the greatest difficulty will be experienced—the financial arrangements connected with it and so on—and the farmers would be well advised to go slowly and bring to their aid the expert help of those who have been engaged in the trade for sometime. And there is always the danger in farming, as in other things, of too much Government interference. After long experience of co-operation, the great authorities are able to lay down, quite definitely, what should be the functions of the Government, and they may be reduced to, say, half-a-dozen heads. First of all, the Government should not do anything which the farmers and their societies can do for themselves. The Government may give them a lead, advice and assistance; but should not undertake the responsibility themselves. And one thing that is absolutely necessary for the success of co-operation in South Africa is that we should begin with the rising generation. I think I am right in stating that this is one of the subjects of study in the agricultural colleges upon which lectures are given, and that is so far well, but we are up against this awkward fact, that very often co-operators do not understand farming or farmers. On the other hand. I am afraid farmers do not always understand co-operation, so we have to begin a little further back, and I am glad to see there is a decided movement to give education in agricultural co-operation to our youths. Then Government should undertake technical instruction. No farmer is in a position to acquire that, more particularly in this fairly scientific age without outside help. The farmers have a perfect right to ask Government to afford that technical instruction. Agricultural experiment and research are not in the province of the farmers, so experiment and research are the proper sphere for Government effort, and the results of the Government’s investigation should be disseminated amongst the farmers. The most effective aid, after all, that Government can give to these co-operative societies is by credit facilities. Once again one must plead that the joint stock system on which most of our financial undertakings are based is not applicable to farming; it is a town device. For one thing the farmer does not use the same mental currency that the townsman does, the farmer thinks not in terms of £ s. d. but in terms of morgen, cattle, and so on. If he has coins in his pocket it is no use to him until he spends it. There must be a Government audit of the society’s accounts, and that will help the farmer to get over one of the weaknesses of his cooperative organization, and that is the handling of money. Government auditing inevitably entails skilled advice. I will not go into the big question of transport and freights, which it is impossible for farmers’ organizations to manage for themselves. A very great null the Government has over all these organizations is the inspection and branding of all their produce. I fail, however, to see the necessity of this compulsory clause. It does not accord with the genius of our people. If one-tenth of the benefits that are claimed for co-operation are real, surely there ought to be no necessity for compulsion. Compulsion will be resented, you will have unwilling members of co-operative societies, and how can you expect successful co-operation if a considerable section of the members belong to the societies against their own wishes. The Minister has probably in his mind certain societies the members of which think compulsion is necessary for their continuance, but hard cases make bad law. I cannot conceive, if advantages of the co-operation are so great as they are said to be, that those who remain outside will not be induced to join in their own material interests. If they remain outside they will suffer, but if they are brought in unwillingly it is possible that a much larger number of individuals will suffer. I would urge that we do not go too fast to begin with, and that we should above all make a start with the rising generation. To sum up, I would recommend that we take full advantage of the information in the country from traders and others to assist in marketing our produce and, above all, that we have no compulsion. I think if we go on those lines we are likely after 10 years to make greater progress than we could hope to achieve by forcing people into co-operation to-day. Sometimes it is better to give people what they think they want rather than what is good for them. The same remark applies to co-operation. I welcome the Minister’s effort to promote the co-operative movement, but I would ask him to seriously consider whether it is really desirable to have this compulsory clause, which, I think, will prove fatal to the progress of true co-operation.


On the whole, I wish to approve very heartily of the Bill. With regard to the most comprehensive and interesting speech which has just been made. I do not agree that we must give more time to see whether co-operation is going to be a success. We have been doing that for many years. When the co-operative movement was first introduced to South Africa we being individualists, and hating to have our freedom interfered with in any way, looked at it with suspicion. When we understood what co-operation meant and attempted to carry it out, we were met with opposition from interested people, who were anxious that farmers should not be allowed to co-operate with any hope of success. With regard to Clause 18, although on principle I hate anything like compulsion, yet, under the circumstances. I support it in this case. When you come to look at it, every law is compulsion of some sort or other, the compulsion of the minority to conform to the general good of the majority. With the safeguard promised by the Minister—that co-operation can be compulsory only when 75 per cent. of the producers or the growers of 75 per cent. of the produce concerned favour co-operation—I do not see that there should be any further objection to accenting the principle of compulsion in the Bill. By minority remaining outside co-operative societies they place their brother farmers at the mercy of trusts who use them as a lever to break up co-operation, to the possible immediate gain of the non-cooperating minority, but to the ultimate loss to themselves as well as to the co-operating majority. Another reason why co-operation has proved a failure in certain instances, as the hon. member for Bethal emphasized, is that the societies have not been run on business lines, but because a few societies have made a mess of things that does not condemn the whole movement. With regard to the compulsory clause, I hope the Opposition will not be persisted on. After years of watching the movement and of consideration of it and of active participation in it, I am convinced that we, in South Africa, will take a very long time to become co-operators like the Danes or the Irish, and therefore I think we require a certain measure of compulsion. With the safeguards introduced, I think we ought to accept it, and I give my full support to the compulsory clause as proposed to be amended by the Minister. We farmers must look out for the dead set which certain trusts are making against the farmers as a body. The 25 per cent. who object to being roped in under the Bill will only reap a temporary advantage. As soon as they have been used to break the 75 per cent., the prices will come down, and we shall fall together. The whole success of agriculture for the future depends upon the success of co-operation amongst the farmers of the Union. I congratulate the Minister on making provisions to enable the Act to work more easily. The scattered co-operators find it difficult to hold their central general meetings, and I think it is a great help to allow several subsidiary meetings to be held and to count as a general meeting. The other provision, to allow sub-committee of directors to sit and act in special cases instead of the whole board is also a useful thing.

*Mr. J. P. LOUW:

The hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron) has said that he thinks the Minister of Agriculture is going too fast. I do not think that is the case at all, because I have heard here that he is going to accept amendments. I think that section 18 is one of the best in the Bill. As one of the oldest co-operators—the hon. member for Worcester (Mr. Heatlie) has been longer connected with it than I—I know how difficult we have found it here in the Cape Province. We had to take all burdens of the co-operative society on our shoulders, and dishonest people gained the benefit by leaving the association whenever they wished. The cooperative societies had to enter into long currency contracts, and when a sudden rise in the market occurred, they left the co-operative society to gain a profit thereby. They want to be the hare and hunt with the hounds. I welcome the Bill, and I am sorry that it has not been made stronger.

†The, Rev. Mr. RIDER:

We are not contemplating new legislation, we are amending and improving the law which has existed for three years past. What troubles me is the compulsory element in Clause 18. After forty-two years in South Africa, I have learned something about the Dutch and the English-speaking people who are alike in one respect, and that is, their intense dislike for any compulsion in matters affecting their businesses. We do not like any authority to say to us—

You must, you shall.

We prefer to exercise our own choice and be unfettered in any enterprises we may attempt. I think this will cause discontent, that it will not make for harmony, and will not make for co-operation, but will be a set-back to the best interests of the country. For that reason I appeal to the Minister to remove that compulsory clause from the amending Bill.


I did not intend to speak on this Bill, but after the last speaker I feel that I am obliged to do so. A little while ago we had a similar kind of Bill before us, namely, the Bill for the control of the export of fruit, and then we had little support against compulsory co-operation, and I am astonished that, after that Bill, we now raise our voices against further co-operation with regard to agricultural produce. I am one of those that feel that we must not compel the farming population to co-operate. But I expect that we should at any rate be consistent. Although I do not entirely concur in this principle of compulsion, I will acknowledge that this Bill is sound. We have had much experience, and hon. members have said that we should go slowly. But in the north we have had 20 years’ experience, we have sometimes had hard knocks, but the experience we have had with failures has taught us what we ought to do when we start a co-operative society. There are many reasons why co-operative societies in certain parts have not been entire successes. One of the chief reasons is that many of the co-operative societies did very much more than what was their proper business. A cooperative society for a particular kind of farming produce ought to confine itself entirely to that product, to co-operation with reference to the crop of that product and to find markets for those products. But we went further, and the co-operative societies wanted to distribute the products everywhere. We wanted practically to take the place of the trader and we are no traders. That is where the failures commenced, and if we now go to work on a sound basis, there is no objection to our being compelled to it. If we confine ourselves to a good production and to delivering good produce in a good way on the market, then I see no reason why the co-operative societies should not be a success. We must draw back when it comes to the business of the trader. Most of the failures were due to the fact that the co-operative societies, wanted to do too much. When we commenced with co-operative societies all the farmers could not join, and without everyone joining, co-operation must certainly fail. To attract the people the societies then went further than they should have, and we had losses. The principle of co-operation as it exists in other countries has already been applied and tried here with us. But we have our individual interests, and we must not take over too much from other countries, because in other countries more specialization takes place, and because the people there live closer together, which makes co-operation easier. Here the people live far apart, and that is the great difficulty. But I find even now that in far away districts cream co-operative societies have been established which are a success because they are run on business lines. I am convinced that with a sympathetic Minister—and the present Minister is sympathetic—we need not be afraid to adopt the compulsory section, and therefore, I join with those who support it.


I am glad that the Bill has had such a good reception. I am sorry, however, that certain members showed that they are not heartily in favour of co-operation. They say that they are in favour of it, but as soon as we say that we must go a little further than at present then they draw back afraid, and say that we are introducing new principles which will give trouble. I am sorry about the attitude that the hon. member for Waterberg (Mr. van Niekerk) has taken up, why then did he vote for the Bill for the control of the wine trade?


We did not vote about that.


The hon. member says that he did not vote for it. Recently he voted for a Bill to control the export of fruit which is much worse and goes much further than this Bill. I go further. Take the Fencing Act, the Act for the cleansing of orchards. If we now want to say that it is a new principle which is contained in the Bill we must remember those Acts and be consistent by approving of it. It is a principle which, year after year, is adopted in this House. The hon. member for Middelburg (Mr. Heyns) came here and said in an unqualified way that the co-operative societies have been failures. The failures were caused because people who remained outside rode on the back of the cooperative society. If all are members of the societies they can get still better prices and terms. I am not surprised that representatives of the Chamber of Commerce criticized co-operation because they are organized and disorganization amongst the farmers makes their position so much stronger lover against the farmers. But I am surprised that farming representatives criticized the co-operative societies and said that they are a failure. The hon. member for Bethal (Lt.-Col. H. S. Grobler) has said that the co-operative societies were usually a failure. The hon. member for Marico (Mr. J. J. Pienaar) has already answered him on that by pointing out that the co-operative societies also wanted to do the work of the trader. There were instances where the directors went to buy on credit from these societies and the members subsequently had to pay for it. The co-operative societies commenced to trade, and wagons, etc., were bought on credit. The societies became a sort of shop and sold to anybody. That is the reason why many of us became opposed to co-operation, but we have learnt a lesson from it, and we will, therefore, be better able to make a success of it in the future. I said in Pretoria that I was against the principle of compulsion. If I could make a success of co-operation without the principle of compulsion, it would be very agreeable to me. But when I see farmers being ruined as in the case of the tobacco farmers, and I should sit still and do nothing, then I should not feel happy. The position is that the tobacco farmers’ association will fail, and the farming too, if we do not save them, because they have a very powerful foreign co-operation against them. That is the reason why I had recourse to this compulsory section. When the farmer is threatened by trusts, and we can save him by legislation of this nature, then I shall not hesitate to do so. If the House does not wish it, then it is another matter. I need not go further info this point. I now wish to answer a few question which have been asked. I need not reply to the hon. member for Bethal as he is not present. The matter is apparently not of sufficient importance for him to consider it worth his while to be present here. I think the hon. member for Lydenburg (Mr. Nieuwenhuize) will be satisfied with section 18 after the explanation which I gave about the 15 per cent. I am glad to hear him say that cooperative societies have been a success in his district, and I hope that, after this Bill, they will be a still greater success. The hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) says that he does not wish to compel anybody. He is so attached to his principles against compulsion. I am very sorry that he is not present, because I wanted to ask him if he denies that he voted in favour of the Bill for the control” of the export of fruit. It seems to me that he just wanted to say something, and therefore spoke against the Bill. I hope that the co-operative societies will develop more, not only on the country side, but also in the towns and villages. The consumers ought to organize for the spreading of the produce of the farmers, and then we shall not hear so much of their having to pay such big prices. The Act gives them the necessary opening. I also hope that this Bill will lead to all our farmers organizing. The traders are organized. The mines are united in the Chamber of Mines. The bootcleaner and the chimney-sweep are organized, but only the farmer, who has to work the hardest, is not organized. He is the person who must give us all food, and he is the football between the traders and the speculators who get the benefit of his work. I hope, with this Bill and with the help of the Land Bank, we shall succeed in getting all the farmers into the co-operative societies, because I am convinced that it is only there where the salvation of the farmer is to be found. Our people are getting tired of being the shuttlecock between the middle man and the speculators. I move the proposal standing in my name.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time; House to go into committee to-morrow.


Mr. SPEAKER announced that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders had discharged Sir Ernest Oppenheimer from service on the Select Committee on the Miners’ Phthisis Acts Consolidation Bill, and had appointed Mr. Lennox in his stead.


Fifth Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.

House in Committee:

[Progress reported on 26th June, when Vote 38, Main Estimates, “Labour”, as printed, had been agreed to; Votes 14 to 19, 31, 32 and 36 standing over.

‘Supplementary Estimates of, Expenditure of the South African Railways and Harbours for the year ending 31st March, 1926 [U.G. 34 —’25], had been referred to the committee.]

The Committee reverted to Votes Nos. 14 to 19, standing over.


I move—

That Votes Nos. 14 to 18 stand over.

Agreed to.

On Vote 19, “Defence”, £898,104,

†Brig.-Gen. BYRON:

I move—

To reduce the amount by £1, from the item “Minister”, £2,500.

I do this chiefly to draw attention to the necessity for a revision of the defence force policy. This is not the most convenient opportunity for dealing with this large question, but the chance did not arise during the Budget debate so far as I was concerned. The Minister, on that occasion, had an opportunity of disclosing his future policy. On another occasion, notably m a contribution to the “South African Nation of an article called “Our Democratic Defence Forces,” he had an opportunity of stating his views; but on neither of these occasions did he indicate that he considered it desirable to make any change. It is well known, not only in this House, but in the country, that for a long time past there has been a great deal of uneasiness, and perhaps I may say dissatisfaction, with our defence force; and we have made no progress. Whenever objectionable matters were brought to light, or any criticism made, some person adopted the ancient Chinese custom of throwing a racial stink-pot into the arena, and in the incoherent spluttering and confusion that resulted the delinquent escaped. That was one of the so-called complete answers to any criticism. Another familiar cry that we heard was a touching allusion to the valour of our soldiers of the defence force. Well, of the two, sir, I think that is the more contemptible. We, at all events, who have stood by the open graves of our men, knew that in many cases the victims were the result of bad organization, of want of opportunity for effective training, of bad staff work, and so on. Well, at least, we owe it to their memory that we do not allow that excuse to interfere with any improvements that ought to be made for the benefit of their country and their successors. I hope neither of these two excuses will be raised in our discussion of defence matters. It is well-known that our Defence Act of 1912 has never had a chance of being put into effective operation. For various reasons that has been the case. The chief of the general staff, in his last annual report, alludes to it and says correctly it was due to the intervention of the great war shortly after it was placed on the statute book. That great war dis-closed two matters of outstanding importance to us as to others. One of these was the enormous development that took place during the war of air power, and the other was the fact that wars in future will be fought, not by professional armies as in the immediate past, but by the whole populations of the countries involved. These two considerations are of enormous importance, and I candidly confess my difficulty in dealing with them in the time at my disposal. I will frankly admit that I must necessarily be so condensed as not to be as clear as I should like, or so incomplete as to fail to convey a complete picture of the whole matter. I throw myself on the mercy of my hearers as regards that. It has this advantage, however, that if I do not attempt any elaborate constructive policy, there is less danger of the thing being confused in details. It is not generally recognized, but it is a very sad fact, that war is as inevitable as death. There are some who say you should not talk of war—it is wrong to do so. It is not a pleasant subject, but neither is the prospect of death; but all history tells us that war sooner or later is inevitable. I believe medical scientists will tell us that there is no reason, within their knowledge, why people should not live for ever. But people do die, and medical science has been devoted to the prolongation of life and life has been prolonged. And similarly, when we talk of war, it is not with the object of bringing it about, but with the main object of so arranging things that peace may be prolonged as much as possible. Now, if people get that into their heads, that wars will occur in the world, it may make them more patient and long-suffering in their efforts to bring about measures towards having peace in our time. When all is said and done, war is the ultimate resort in expressing the will of the people when all other means have failed, and you will find, throughout recent history, at all events, that statesmen, through their diplomats, the press and other means of propaganda will say that their one object in maintaining armies and eventually entering war is to obtain security, and they are right. I am not going into exalted reasoning as to what security means. It may mean, in one case, that a people consider to be secure they must conquer their neighbour or extend their frontier, but all wars have been waged ostensibly with the desire to attain the security of this or that nation, and people desire security for a variety of reasons. The most common is the endurance of our political system—freedom, as we know it, and the prevention of our freedom being jeopardized by a tide of barbarism. Past wars have been waged for the succession of a particular dynasty. There have even been religious wars, and some wars have had for their basis the desire to obtain security for trade, and such an argument is not so unreasonable as it might appear. The very existence of a people or nation may depend on their trade being uninterrupted. The fact that we have a defence force at all indicates that South Africans must contemplate the possibility or eventuality of war. We may say we are different from other people with regard to our internal security. I am not alluding to political matters, because I hope these will be settled in a more peaceful way than by resort to arms. But it may interest hon. members to know what professional men, whose duty it is to study these things, think of our internal security. I have in my hand a military text book by an instructor on the educational staff of the War Office, and in dealing with South Africa he says—

The more serious question is the result of the presence of a large coloured population in the country, outnumbering the whites by four to one. Experience has shown, however, that the effective strength of this native population is greatly lessened by their incapacity for combination. Local risings are possible, but when they arise it has been found possible to deal with them locally by the province concerned, without calling for aid either from the imperial troops or from the forces of the Union as a whole. The danger of a general rising under present conditions of education and lack of capable leadership among the natives, is extremely remote.

He says the danger of a general rising under present conditions of education and lack of leadership among the natives is extremely remote. I wish I could say our safety was based on more solid grounds. I hope we shall be able to say that our legislation has been so wise, and our administration of native matters so sympathetic, that that alone forms our main security against any trouble of that sort. So much for our internal security. We have to consider then, that obviously the force that we maintain, the money we spend is not at all events, mainly designed to maintain our internal security. I have stated that wars in future will be carried on by whole populations. Not only the manhood will be under arms, but also the womanhood, and the country’s total resources and energies will be devoted to such sleeps as can be taken towards securing the general safety of the home. It may be interesting to know what has brought about this state of things and, in brief, it is due to improved methods of transportation. Transportation advanced very little during several centuries. You will find it stated in one of Macaulay’s essays that there was no essential difference between the time of William the Conqueror and the time Queen Victoria came to the throne, in regard to transportation. They never advanced beyond the best speed of the horse on land or of the propulsion of the wind on sea. Transportation now has enabled armies to assemble and, perhaps what is more important, to be fed from the ends of the earth, during the process of a campaign, and that has been a very big factor in enabling nations to put the whole of their strength, bowl men and material, into the struggle, in their effort to obtain a favourable decision, and we must accept that as governing the future. I daresay there are many mothers and fathers who regret that it is not possible to go back again to the old days when armies selected a champion and the decision fought between the two champions was accepted. That was followed by small professional armies. It would be better for these fathers and mothers if, by some arrangement, ministers of war or defence fought the matter out, and, perhaps, the nations concerned would not be any the worse off for it. Every civilized nation that desires to defend its shores or frontiers must be prepared to put its full strength in the field in the event of war. There are, however, two great difficulties, one being the great expense of peace training on a large scale and the other the reluctance of the population generally to undertake military service. That reluctance has been overcome in Continental countries by absolute force of circumstance. Nations with powerful neighbours have been compelled to keep their armies up to the requisite strength, and to institute complete compulsory military service. But this has been done at great cost. The question of cost is a very serious matter for South Africa. We are asked to vote £898,000 for defence this year with the single exception of the police vote this defence vote is practically the largest annual item that Parliament has any real control over. I am not here to argue that this sum is too much, but it is essential to see that it is wisely expended. While I am not urging a reduction of the vote, I know it is practically impossible for us to spend much more, and I hope it will not be substantially reduced. But we must get real value for it. The objections to compulsory military service in South Africa are easily understood. I draw a great distinction between compulsory service and compulsory training. Compulsory military training is generally put in force at a critical time in voting men’s careers. We take them at 21 years of age, when most of them are definitely tied to some profession or business. Naturally they resent very much the interference with their plans and prospects by having to undergo compulsory military service. In this country a very large proportion of the population escape all training that matters. It is not their fault, it is the long distances and sparsely populated nature of the country which brings that about, so it is chiefly in towns that compulsory training can be put into effect to any extent whatever. But that will not place in our ranks, when the time comes, a sufficient number of trained men; it will not put into our ranks a sufficient number of men with any training really worth having. A very well-deserved tribute was paid to our South African troops during the great war. They acquitted themselves well, mainly because they had an opportunity between leaving here and going into action of getting a very thorough training indeed. Not one of the excellent divisions forming Kitchener’s army was sent across the English Channel until he had had at least nine months’ training, and the majority had more. The chief value of military training in peace time is the inculcation into all ranks of a sense of discipline and adaptability. The technical training that the best of our’ troops undergo now will probably be out of date when they take the field, but the portion of their training that will stand them in good stead is that they have been imbued with a sense of discipline. Discipline is the very life-blood of an army. In the Anglo-Boer war, the Boer forces surprised the world by the excellence of their personnel by their resourcefulness; by their powers of mobility; by being able to ride and shoot, yet they failed because the leaders had no opportunity to get their forces disciplined. If the Boer forces had had an opportunity of being disciplined, the history of South Africa might have been very different indeed. That is obvious to us all. As the training of our manhood is bound to meet with the objection that it interferes with the men’s career and this would make the force unpopular, what are we going to do? We should pay more attention to the early training of those who will form our defence force. There could be little or no objection to that. The State pays for the education of its youth and has the right in return to request and demand and ensure that the vast majority of them, at all events, get some military training. We could go by easy transitions. We have the boyscout movement and the junior cadet movement up to 15, and at that age the boys could be drafted into the senior cadets with the additional attraction of being trusted with a rifle and being exercised in military movements. While I attach little value to the military training of cadets I attach great value to the moral training they would get, to their being imbued with a sense of citizenship of discipline and the knowledge that if the time comes they would be qualified to devote their full service to the safety of their country. That would ensure that in time the vast majority of our youth would be passed through a system of un irksome, even attractive military training, and when the time came later on they would be drafted into the ordinary defence force by ballot, or better still, by volunteering. There would be less time lost in superimposing on the instincts of discipline and organization the more modern and scientific and military training necessary. I advance that as one of the means of getting over our difficulty. If the scheme was thought out and planned, and we obtained the whole, hearted aid of the scholastic profession and the school masters as cadet, officers we should have gone a long way towards solving our defence force problem and parents would no longer advance the argument that they were afraid of the contamination of the morals of their boys when they went to camp. They would then be under the control and supervision of their schoolmasters and it would obviate the same serious objections which have been raised. Now I come to my second point. The greatest change of all has been in air power. Those who have studied military history will see that the nations evolve and develop according to their situation. A nation with a long sea coast and dependent in sea borne traffic will necessarily develop into a naval power. A land-locked nation will develop into a land power. Each nation makes the best of the position in which it finds itself. The enormous development in aviation since the war is not generally known. We were surprised at the development between 1914 and 1918, but I have here a few figures presented to the House of Representatives of the United States of America, and we find amongst them some interesting and startling figures. For instance, in 1918 the record speed in the air was 140 miles per hour, it is now 266 miles. For pursuit planes 122 miles in 1918 now 179 miles; bombers in 1918, 80 miles, now 113 miles. The point of greatest interest is the increase in the cruising range of aircraft. In 1918 the maximum cruising range was 900 miles; it is now 2,500 miles. Bombers carrying 2,500 lbs. or 11 tons which could only cruise 319 miles in 1919 can now cruise 1.200 miles. The altitude record in 1919 was 25,500 ft. Now it is 39,500 ft. or 7½ miles. Bombers which could only reach an elevation of 5,000 ft. in 1918 and were therefore fairly visible and liable to attack from the ground can move higher. Bombers and planes carrying torpedoes can manoeuvre at a height of 13.500 ft. The latest bomb in the United States of America service weighs 4.300 lbs. When we consider these figures and reflect that, Johannesburg and Pretoria are less than 350 miles from the coast it should make us thoughtful. Air Dower has to a large extent revolutionized for preparations for war. It must be remembered an army practically operates in only one dimension—it moves in the direction of length. It is largely confined to the direction of roads or railways and cannot depart much from their general direction. It depends too upon road and rail for its supplies. On the sea vessels move in two dimensions, but now air power has come into the field they move in three dimensions, east, west, north, south and up and down. How does that affect us what is the good of such fortifications as we have? Aircraft can go over them, armies are no longer safe in trenches, ships cannot rest secure behind forts and what about, our docks and our junctions? In the old days to attack a junction like Germiston and De Aar was a big undertaking. You had to carry on a regular campaign, develop all the operations of war, and march over hundreds of miles to get near to the objective. I have given the speeds of aircraft and the distances from the sea and it is evident it would be comparatively easy for hostile aircraft carrying bombs to attack our big centres of industry, our docks and our shipping, as our defences of which are not calculated to deal with that kind of warfare. I do not know, but I doubt very much—perhaps the Minister will tell us—whether there, is in the Union a single aircraft gun of any value. There are three possible methods of dealing with attacks from the air. There is the method tried in Italy, Paris and London on a considerable scale during the war. Wires were hung from balloons and connected by cross wires in the hope of entangling and bringing to earth hostile aircraft. I think we must dismiss that from South African consideration by simply remarking that the sky is rather too big to be defended in that way. We couldn’t do it. The other method is by anti-aircraft guns. It would seem that the effect of these in the future is going to be rather less than in the past owing to the enormous height at which aircraft can manoeuvre. There remains one solitary method and that is by other aircraft. What is our position in regard to this? It must be obvious to everyone that our aircraft are far away behind in speed, in height, climbing capacity, and in carrying capacity compared to the figures I have just given. I have given record figures, it is true, but we all know that the record of to-day is the common place of to-morrow. I suppose, as in railway practice, a limit is nearly reached, and can be reached, but, at all events, it is obvious that we are far behind in our arrangements and that we would be largely at the mercy of a hostile power, even a power that only intended to undertake a raid. So important has air warfare been considered, that it was a very big portion of the work of the Washington Conference. In addition to limiting the capital ships the Washington Conference practically limited the ship aircraft carriers to a definite tonnage. When we find that, even in spite of that, one Power is producing carriers capable of carrying 72 planes at a time, this shows that, at all events, we must take serious consideration of those things, and recognize that if we want to counter this effectively, and prevent irreparable damage even during a short time we must take note of our air defences and very seriously. It is a very remarkable thing that all the dominion officers who obtained considerable rank during the great war have gone back to their countries and have become pronounced pacifists. I am proud to range myself with them. They are pacifists to the extent that they would go to war to prevent war, if necessary, but they realize that the way to peace is by taking stock of things as they are, and not as we hope or imagine they would be. We do not want—if I may range myself with those distinguished men for the moment—the nation or the dominion of South Africa to embark upon a policy of militarism whatever exactly that means, but we do want to ensure that we can carry on our avocations with reasonable security, and that the honour of our country cannot be lightly insulted. As a practical suggestion towards that, I would urge that we should develop our aircraft on civil lines. I am pleading for an industry, not an armament, but this means that if we would develop on those lines we must have a military branch. I look upon air service as I look upon our railways, which are indispensable to the carrying of troops and munitions and so forth in times of war, but we do not militarize our railways in times of peace. How can we hope to have up to date machines, how can we hope to have skilled pilots, how can we hope to have that reserve of pilots which is so necessary in order to carry on war unless we develop on larger lines than are possible under a purely military vote? I am not arguing, however, that we should neglect other arms of the service, because we know the man who eventually secures and consolidates the position, is the man on foot, with a rifle in his hand and a bayonet on that rifle. I am only arguing that things have changed, and to-day we require not only an army and a navy, but what some people call an “aery” as well. I think that with great advantage we might develop, largely by means of a civil establishment, a separate military air force that could be used in time of war. Our young men of South Africa have shown a capacity for air work that has been unsurpassed in the world. We know that when our young men went to Europe their efficiency was such that the number who passed the test was no less than 97 per cent. New Zealand, a dominion for which one has the highest possible respect, came next with 33 per cent. The moral of that I leave to hon. members, but these figures are remarkable and can be vouched for. In this country of great distances and sparse population, I am quite sure that the experiment that the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs so pluckily initiated, and which was so ably carried out under adverse conditions, that only an expert knows of, ought to make us satisfied that we have in our midst, at all events, the material for a very efficient air service both for civil and military purposes. I do not think the country will grudge a reasonable vote for carrying out this scheme. I do not think they will be satisfied that our young men should go to the air without having the best machines under them. We know that the life of a plane is very limited, and that they quickly become a source of danger, not only to the pilots and crew, but also to the people they fly over. I only want to throw a little light on the absolute necessity for a rearrangement of our defence methods. I do not want to press this too hard. I realize the devotion of those who spend their time, their money and very often their health, in taking their part in the defence force of this country, even in peace time; but I do think it cannot be denied even by the Minister of Defence that, to a very large extent, under modern conditions, South Africa is defenceless at present.


I am certain that members have listened with interest to the well-throughout speech of the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen Byron). I am, however, afraid that if the Minister were to execute the useful hint of the member he will cause an insurrection among the taxpayers, because it will cost a mass of money to carry out the suggestions. If our defence force is to mean anything in the future, then the past has taught us we must pay more attention to the air service. The future war will, for the most part, be fought in the air. I have, however, not got up to deal with our defence system generally. I got up to make a few remarks about the system. In doing so, I hope the Minister will accept them in the spirit in which they are made. I do not wish to criticize the Minister, but I think it my duty where I see weaknesses in our system of defence to bring them to the notice of the Minister. In proportion to the population, we spend too much on defence, and we do not get proper value for the money we spend. True, a small reduction has been brought about. The amount formerly was about a million, and is now almost £900,000. Our complaint is that too much money is spent in a certain direction. The defence force as now constituted is not properly prepared for war. It is the burgers of the country who have to win the war, and they are not prepared. We spend the largest part of the amount upon the permanent force. It is expensive. The force consists of 1,258 officers, costing £157,162. It is a force of officers and not of men. The Minister should see to it that more conveniences are given to the people on the country side who belong to the Defence Rifle Associations. The greatest discontent prevails amongst the people and the Minister knows it. The people who are entrusted to keep the organization alive only get a small allowance. What encouragement does the people get to learn shooting? In the past every farmer’s son had his rifle, and he learnt to shoot, but that is no longer so. The Minister has been economizing in a wrong way here. £1,200 has been saved on rifle associations; they only get £5,220 in all. The people are unarmed, and this is one of the weaknesses of the forces If a member of a rifle association has no rifle then he is lent one, but if we were suddenly to have trouble what it he to do then? We are not armed. The taxpayer will be ready to bear the burden if he knows that the people are armed. My advice is to gradually commence arming the people. The Minister cannot put it right all at once. Let him, however, every year put a sum on the estimates for arms and let the amount be distributed pro rata over the four provinces. In five or ten years the whole of the citizens will be armed. There is another grievance, provision has been made that the people can have new barrels put to their rifles, but when the people send the rifles they are detained for three or four months. This is a grievance. All the officers of the rifle associations feel that too much is done by the chief of the general staff, and too little by the Minister. They think that the Minister should more directly come into touch with them. As soon as the* session is over the Minister should—[Time expired.]


I move—

To reduce the amount by 10s., from the item Minister”, £2,500.

This is in order to draw attention to a certain matter. I am quite satisfied with the Minister otherwise and 10s. will not harm him, and I daresay the motion to do even hat will be withdrawn, if I get satisfaction. I want to draw the attention of the Minister to a matter which is of great importance to the people concerned and that is the question of the issue of medals to the first Cape Coloured Regiment. Two officers of that regiment waited on me and the facts they put before me will convince the Minister that the request was a perfectly reasonable one. A member of the regiment wrote to me a letter asking me to draw attention to the fact that they were the only regiment that had not a suitable war medal. I put the question to the Minister and pointed out to him that the Cape Coloured Regiment was recruited in June, 1916, left South Africa in August, 1916, served in France and Belgium and returned in September, 1919, and were therefore away for the greater period of the war. They have been publicly commended for their services. When I told the Minister that, he said he did not know it and I think he ought to have known it. There ought to have been some record of it. Lt.-Col. van der Byl and Lt.-Col. Sproule were mentioned in despatches and in the “Gazette.” and we have nothing in the records about it. I can give the Minister the time and date, and although they were in a labour regiment, they did service for 9 months in the field as part of the second army, taking ammunition to the front line. They were in the firing line for 9 months, and Lt.-Col. van der Byl, the commanding officer, was commended by Mr. Churchill as Minister for War, and by the general officer commanding, for distinguished services in the field. It is time the records of South Africa were to be found in some other place than the “London Gazette”. I asked the Minister whether he was aware that some of the coloured men of the regiment had received the meritorious medal and he knew nothing about it. When I later mentioned to him that there were three men in Cape Town who had got it, he wrote and said that he was not aware of it. The Government are adopting a dog in the manger policy on the matter. The last item in a letter from the Minister’s private secretary was to the effect that it was not likely to affect the decision arrived at by the Government that war medals should not be issued to non-European members of Labour Regiments. It is a strange policy to draw that distinction because the men are coloured. They are men you have decided the colour bar shall not apply to. The Minister, as an old soldier, knows that when a man sees another man, who was alongside him on the field, wearing the medal and he himself has not one it rankles, and they feel they have been done out of something to which they are entitled. When the question was put in the House I was unaware that the officers of the regiment had taken the matter up with the War Office. Lt.-Col. van der Byl put before me a set of circumstances which makes the attitude of the Government inconceivable—impossible to understand. These two officers have taken the matter up with the Imperial Government which has recognized that the men are entitled to the war medals, but inasmuch as the regimental records are here they cannot issue the medals until they have the names of the men. The war office has sent to Lt.-Col. van der Byl some blank forms to be filled up before the issue of the medals. But he cannot do so as he cannot get access to the departmental records. I cannot conceive that the Minister knows the full facts otherwise this refusal of access could not possibly be sanctioned by him. The records are not with the defence department, but with the native affairs department. Why, I don’t know. There was not a single native in the regiment. They want to go and take a copy of the names so as to send them to the war once, but they are told that this cannot be done without the permission of the Minister of Defence. I feel sure, now that I have brought these facts to his notice, that he will give his permission. The Minister said, in answer to my question, that there was no other corps doing that work which got the medal. He is misinformed. The Cape Auxiliary horse transport got the medal. There were three coloured regiments recruited—the Cape corps, the Cape Auxiliary horse transport, and the one for which I am pleading. The horse transport and this regiment were serving in the same area and doing the same work side by side. The Minister shakes his head, but Mr. van der Byl, who was serving in the field, has told me so himself. All the officers were Europeans, the sergeant-majors were Europeans and the other non-commissioned officers and the men were coloured and there was not a single native in this regiment. What is my request to the Minister to-day? I do not ask him to give any medals, although he ought to recognize the service of these South Africans; I only ask him not to play the dog in the manger, that is all. The war office want to give these medals. I want the Minister to authorize his department to allow the commanding officer to take the names of these men who served in the field, so that he may send them to the war office. When I put the question, I did not know the matter was as bad as it is, but now that the full facts are before his notice, I hope the Minister will give an opportunity to these two distinguished officers to put their case before him. I am sure he will agree that the attitude so far taken up has been most unreasonable. I commend this to the Minister that this is a case where he could meet a grievance without any trouble.


I would like to ask the Minister whether he thinks that this country can afford two efficient forces, the defence force and the police force. I believe in the past we had a very efficient force, in the old Cape Government days, called the Cape Mounted Rifles. I believe that force was able to do police work in time of peace and, in case of emergency, they were an efficient striking force. In view of the tremendous expense of the police and of the defence force, and owing to the fact that this country is not sufficiently policed, especially in the country districts—we know the Government have stated that they cannot afford to properly police the Union—I would like him to consider, instead of having his so-called striking force, the advisability of utilizing a force on the lines of the old Cape Mounted Rifles, so that in time of peace we could get a certain amount of service from them, while they would also be useful to the community, and, if war was threatened, they would be a very efficient striking force, even more efficient, I believe, than the one the Minister has in hand at present.

†Brig.-Gen. ARNOTT:

I wish to refer to the reply which the Minister gave to the question that was asked by the hon. member for Berea (Mr. Henderson) in regard to the reduction in the Durban Light Infantry. The Minister rather misled the House, I do not say intentionally; but there was very bad staff work and, judging from the orders, I think the staff work was very bad all through. On the 4th of April the Chief of Staff, Cape Town, issued an order, which was duly forwarded to the Adjutant-General at Pretoria, by which it was proposed to reduce the Natal Carbineers by 63 other ranks, and other regiments; and there was a footnote to the order referring to the 1st Mounted Rifles and the Railway and Harbours Brigade, holding the reduction of these over for further consideration. That was duly acted on by the Adjutant-General on the 4th, and somebody in the Minister’s office woke up to the fact, on the 7th, that part of this should be reserved for the Minister’s decision. The Minister came to a decision on the 16th; but poor staff work came in again, as that decision was not communicated to the Adjutant-General until it was wired on the 22nd, the day after the question was asked in the House. Again, on the 23rd, someone woke up in the office and two wires, an “urgent” and a “clear the line” wire, were sent to Pretoria to find out what the position was. The same day two other “urgent” and “clear the line” wires were sent to Martizburg to find out the position. Each of these four wires required another wire, which made eight wires in all on the 23rd, to find out the position. I think that is about the poorest example of staff work that I have ever come across, and if you get that in peace time, what do you expect in war time? I do not agree with any proposed reduction of the defence forces at the present time. After a war like the great war, a defence force usually falls into a state of disorganization, owing to men being away on other duties. It took a year or two be begin the force, and by 1921 small camps were being held, in 1922 camps were held, and again in 1923 and 1924. This year we were promised brigade camps, but now we are told that no camps will be held at all. That is a most dangerous proceeding, I consider, as unless the active citizen defence force is kept up, you will have nothing to protect you but the defence rifle associations. The only way you can maintain discipline, and have an effective force, is by retaining the traditions of the regiments, and getting the young men who come in to absorb the “esprit de corps” by mixing with the older men of the regiment. This year, most of the four-year men retire, and it is not for the good of the force that the men should retire in numbers; they should retire gradually. I believe the instructions are that only 6 per cent. of the old men are to be retained.


What unit is that?

†Brig.-Gen. ARNOTT:

All the active citizen force units. At present there is considerable native unrest. The unfortunate incident at Eshowe on the occasion of the Prince of Wales’ visit, when Solomon behaved—despite official denials—in a most truculent—not to say insolent—manner.


On what vote is the hon. member speaking?

†Brig.-Gen. ARNOTT:

Native unrest—has that not to do with the defence force?


The hon. member cannot discuss that.

†Brig.-Gen. ARNOTT:

I wish to discuss the reason why we desire a defence force which in case of trouble could jump on it at once, because any unrest is like a grass fire, which at the start could be checked by a few men, but with a strong wind behind it and allowed to spread, would require the intervention of a large force. The last time this occurred in Natal, which was in 1906, 10,000 men had to be mobilized. It is necessary to have a disciplined force, for it is only when men are carried away by lack of discipline that regrettable incidents arise. The men retiring this year from the force will be replaced, presumably, by 17-year-old men; but it is very difficult to obtain ‘cohesion unless you have a considerable leaven of older men. There is another point I do not agree with, and that is the concentration of supplies in Pretoria. At present none of the active citizen defence force units can be mobilized rapidly because a great part of the equipment and ammunition has to be drawn from Pretoria. If trouble arose, say, in Zululand, and troops had to be despatched from Durban, they would have to wait until stuff was drawn from Pretoria. For the recent visit of the Prince of Wales to Maritzburg certain equipment was required, and, although it was indented for six weeks in advance, it only arrived two days before the Prince reached Maritzburg, and, even then, it was a good deal short, and a lot of the stuff was not what was wanted. If that happens in peace time, what will happen when trouble is on? Each regiment should have its own equipment at its own head-quarters. At present our forces could not take the field under at least three days, which is far too long.


When my time expired I was pointing out to the Minister of Defence how necessary it was for him to make an attempt, as soon as possible, to get into touch with the officers and men of the rifle associations on the country side. Where there is much dissatisfaction, I feel that the Minister of Defence, by getting into touch with the people and learning to know them and their grievances better, will be able to do much to get rid of their grievances, and to make the rifle associations more effective. I see that the Minister makes provision on the estimates for rifle ranges and rifle competitions, namely, about £14,000. This is a reduction of about £3,000 on the amount for last year. I have just pointed out that it is the duty of the State and of the Minister in particular to see that every citizen in the country, liable to service, is put into the position of training himself in the art of shooting. For this there were insignificant facilities in the past and, instead of increasing them, we find that the Minister is proceeding to reduce them by the amount I have mentioned. Then I further saw that a little while ago a circular was issued by the department that the rifle contests between the provinces shall, in future, be held every four years. These competitions are looked forward to with great enthusiasm. It is a kind of sport as well as practice for the members. It will cause dissatisfaction to have them only once in four years arid it is wrong. I hope that the Minister will reconsider this, and that he will increase the amount for such events instead of reducing it. We were very glad that the Minister, shortly after assuming office, appointed a commission to enquire into the grievances in the defence force. Unhappily, the commission was only instructed to enquire into the grievances of the permanent force, and they could make no recommendations, although there were just as many grievances in the citizen force. Unfortunately, the impression was created that the commission had the power to institute a general enquiry, and it was expected that the commission would make useful recommendations to the Minister, and yet the commission did not have the power to do so. The people outside thought when the Minister came into office that an alteration would be made, and the Defence Department would be organized. I would advise the Minister with all goodwill if he wants an effective defence force to re-organize on a large scale. We have only to go to the report of the commission referred to. Anyone who has read it will agree with me that the Minister has every reason for reorganization. There was too much politics in the defence force in the past. According to the evidence before that commission the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) was not innocent of it.

*Gen. SMUTS:

How so?


The evidence has not been made public, but my information is that the Cabinet Minister who thanked officers for political assistance was the hon. member. We know that when the present Government took over there were political agents right throughout the force. If the Minister wishes to restore confidence in the force he must re-organize. I will not say that he should only appoint Nationalists, but those that are appointed must not meddle in politics. It will go with the defence force just as with the Department of Agriculture. All those appointed were political agents of the Government. The Minister of Agriculture immediately tackled the position and appreciated that if he wanted to carry out his policy he had to have people who sympathized with it. That is my advice to the Minister of Defence as well. He must get people in his department who are sympathetic with the defence policy of the Nationalist Government. Until he does this, he will not have the support of the department. I hope that I am wrong, but it seems to me that the officials of the Defence Department seem to employ all their efforts in bringing the Minister of Defence into discredit with the people.


On the Defence Vote, section G1, South African air force, I would like, with the permission of this House, to offer some criticism which, I trust, is of a constructive nature. We find that at the present moment a matter of £80,000 odd is being devoted to the maintenance of an air force. The effective strength of that air force is one squadron. I feel that the Minister should consider, with benefit to the country, the possibility of developing a commercial service in this country as a means of defence. If he were to make the active service squadron, which is allowed for in these estimates, a self-contained unit on which expansion could be based he would find that he would be utilizing his money to far better advantage. The staff and the organization shown in this vote are sufficiently large and important to maintain a unit of three squadrons. Moreover, you have your present squadron centred at Pretoria. At this centre it is not in a position to strike with ease at any point in the Union should it be so required, and the result is it is isolated, and cannot be used in case of emergency to the best advantage. In the development of civil aviation it would be natural that you would have all over the country aerodromes established at all the principal towns. You would have an organization in each of these towns which could be increased to practically any extent. In addition you would be devoting your money in a manner which would be of advantage to the country. During my recent visit to Europe I was very surprised and interested to find in Great Britain, Holland and Italy that the various Governments were developing their commercial services to the fullest possible extent, realizing that in doing so they were forming a unit of very high military importance. We, in South Africa, have had to struggle from a commercial point of view; and through the services of the South African air service, it has been possible to prove to the country that a service capable of covering a great distance could be maintained with absolute regularity. The work of the director of air service and his staff is of the greatest merit, and I think we are all proud of the work that has been done under very difficult circumstances. We cannot hope to make use of our air force continually in that direction; and I therefore, trust the Minister will consider devoting a certain amount of this expenditure to assist the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs in subsidizing and maintaining a commercial service in South Africa. The hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron) referred to the question of the depreciation of machines. That, of course, is a big item; but it is only fair to say that the work already done by the air force at Roberts Heights is of an exceptional nature. It is as well to realize that every single machine has been overhauled by the aircraft section, commissioned and made fit and safe for flying. From that point of view alone the South African air force has done extremely good work. I would suggest to the Minister that he should consider the development of this active service squadron making a self-contained unit, and possibly increase the expenditure on that particular item. The two services would be in direct charge of the director of the air service. It would give him wider scope, and would give him better opportunities of laying out his force as much as from a strategically point of view as from a defence point of view. We have wide areas to cover; and at the moment we have only one unit, at Pretoria. If required on the coast they have to forward all their supplies and spare parts in order to carry out operations in that part of the country. But in the development of civil aviation, you will find all these chains on the coast would be organized and maintained, and, therefore, would be of tremendous value from a military point of view. I hope the Minister will give this serious consideration. I had occasion to refer to it during last session; but since then we have had a development of an experimental service which has proved the value of flying to this country, although it was not a financial success. I will not refer to this further under this Vote, but I hope to do so more fully when Vote 31 is under discussion. We can utilize the expenditure now allowed for the South African air force in a very much better way than at present, and, in collaboration with the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, the Minister could work up an infinitely more effective defence unit than we have at present in the South African air force.


I wish to refer to the replies of the Minister of Defence given to the hon. member for Berea (Mr. Henderson) on the subject of the reduction of the Durban Light Infantry in April last. The hon. member for Berea asked the Minister of Defence whether there was any truth in the report that orders had been issued for the reduction of the strength of the Durban Light Infantry, and the Minister replied that there was no truth whatsoever in such a report, and he treated the question as entirely a press canard, and in a most contemptuous manner, advised the hon. member for Berea not to pay any attention to such reports in future. There had at that time, been a report in the “Natal Mercury” to the effect that there was in contemplation a reduction of the strength of the regiment. The Minister’s reply to the member for Berea was to this effect—that no such orders had been issued—

The hon. member has evidently seen a statement published in the Durban press that it is the intention of the Government to reduce the establishments of the Natal Carbineers and Durban Light Infantry. There is no truth at all in the statement, and I warn hon. members against placing all their reliance upon statements which appear in the press, particularly that portion of the press which is devoted to trying to discredit this Government.

When the Minister let himself go to that extent, one might have thought that he was sure of his ground, but what do we find? The “Mercury” returned to the charge and asserted again that the statement was perfectly correct and issued a challenge to Col. Creswell. It stated—

Col. Creswell having rightly and wisely determined to act upon second thoughts in regard to the establishment of the Durban Light Infantry, is trying to hide his changes behind a smoke screen of abuse of the Durban press. The paper drew attention to Reuter’s message from Cape Town and to the report of the Minister’s reply to Mr. Henderson’s question in the House and added that if this information were correct, Col. Creswell’s reply was hardly ingenuously honest, and his insinuations against the press were a gratuitous insult and absolutely without justification.

That was subsequently proved to be the case. The paper continued—

If the order was issued last week, its cancellation on Tuesday does not render untrue the statement published on Monday. It only partially alters the fact and does not in the slightest degree alter the truth of the statement. The paper said that possibly the Minister, who was having an anxious time in the Department of Labour, was not personally cognisant of the orders issued, but that did not diminish his responsibility for the department’s acts done in his name. At least he should have made himself acquainted with what had been done under his authority by the Defence Department before answering a question about it in the House. If he had done so was it quite fair to the House and to the public to say that certain orders had not been issued when the facts were that they had been issued and subsequently cancelled? It does not seem to square with the standard of political morality which we expect from Col. Creswell, or the standard of accuracy which he sets up for the Opposition press.
Col. Creswell was challenged by the paper to make a frank avowal of the facts, and the “Mercury” added that if, as the paper was convinced was the case, the facts at each stage had been correctly stated, then Col. Creswell owed it to himself to explain how he was led into misleading Parliament and the public, and he also owed an apology to the press.

The Minister does owe an apology to the press, but he has not yet given it; and he owes an explanation to the House, and he should withdraw the reflection cast upon the Adjutant-General. He replied to the hon. member for Durban (Berea) (Mr. Henderson) on April 21. On April 23, the “Natal Mercury” issued its challenge. On April 23 the Minister was interviewed by the “Cape Times.” In that interview the Minister of Defence emphatically denied that an order dealing with the reduction of establishment of the Durban Light Infantry had been issued by him. The “Cape Times” stated—

Shown a copy of the message wherein the “Natal Mercury” affirms that the orders were issued last week and cancelled on Tuesday, Col. Creswell said: “No such order was ever issued, and no such order can be issued without my sanction.”

Let us come to the facts as disclosed in the papers laid on the Table in response to pressure from the hon. member for Natal Coast (Brig.-Gen. Arnott). In a minute issued by the Chief of the General Staff (who officially is inseparable and indivisible from the Minister, and who issues all orders), the facts have been disclosed. It is perfectly clear that the Adjutant-General, whom the Minister ungenerously blamed for the whole occurrence—


No, I don’t.


On April 24 the Minister did so in replying to that question. I propose to remind the Minister of a minute issued by the Chief of the General Staff to the Adjutant-General on 4 April, 1925, in which the Chief of the General Staff said—

It is necessary to effect further reductions in the active citizen force, and it has accordingly been decided to reduce the authorized strength of the following units.

In these units was enumerated the D.L.I., and the number of men to be reduced was shown in the minute of the Chief of the General Staff, who could not have issued such orders without reference to the Minister. That order was specific and clear, and it authorized the Adjutant-General to reduce the establishment of the D.L.I. It was not affected by any of the reservations which referred to the 1st and 2nd Railways and Harbours Regiment and Prince Alfred’s Guard. In respect of those regiments it was stated that—

With regard to the proposed reduction in the authorized strength of the infantry battalions of the Railways and Harbours Regiment, please see attached copy of minutes.

These minutes suspended the proposed reduction of the regiments named, but had no reference to the D.L.I. With regard to the Natal Carbineers and the Railways and Harbours Regiment, two infantry battalions, action was to be delayed, but with regard to the D.L.l. there was an express instruction to reduce the D.L.I. That instruction went to the Adjutant-General, and when the Minister was pressed for an answer by the hon. member for Durban (Berea) (Mr. Henderson)—[Time expired.]

On the motion of Mr. J. J. Pienaar it was agreed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

House Resumed:

Progress reported; House to resume in committee to-morrow.

The House adjourned at 10.53 p.m.