House of Assembly: Vol5 - MONDAY 6 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
Mr. KEYTER, as Chairman, brought up the Third Report of the Select Committee on Native Affairs, reporting the Native Lands (Natal and Transvaal) Release Bill with amendments.
Report to be printed; House to go into Committee on the Bill on Thursday.
The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (for the Minister of Lands) laid upon the Table:
Papers relating to:
- (110) Proposed sale Erf 126 van Wyksvlei to Dutch Reformed Church.
- (111) Proposed revaluation of Walkershoek Settlement, Ladysmith.
- (112) Proposed revaluation of Chieveley Settlement, Estcourt.
- (113) Proposed revaluation of Blaauwkrantz Settlement, Estcourt.
- (114) Proposed revaluation of. Vaalkop Settlement, Helpmakaar.
- (115) Proposed revaluation of Thys-Zyn-Doorns, Ventersdorp.
- (116) Proposed grant to Cape Town Municipality of portion of Parliament House Grounds.
- (117) Proposed leasing and grant of certain pieces of land at Gordon’s Bay.
- (118) Proposed sale of Pokkies, Weich and Jackson’s Islands, Orange River.
- (119) Proposed reservation of portion of “Commando Kraal” (Sundays River Settlement), Uitenhage, for sport, recreation and other purposes.
- (120) Proposed sale to A. H. du Preez of about 10 morgen of “Commando Kraal’ (Sundays River Settlement), Uitenhage.
Papers referred to Select Committee on Crown Lands.
I would like to ask the Minister of Finance when he is going to lay on the Table the Loan Estimates. It is now 6th July, and it is generally assumed that we shall adjourn at the end of the month, so that there is not much time left.
I hope to have the Loan Estimates ready towards the end of the week.
First Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 3rd July; Votes 14 to 18, 31, 32, and 36, standing over, reverted to; Votes 14 to 18 again ordered to stand over; Vote 19 had been agreed to; Vote 31, “Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones £2,771,630, under consideration. ]
There are a number of postal servants in the Union who have a genuine grievance against the old Natal Government. They are known as the 1903 agreement men. It is not for want of trying that their grievance has not been remedied. The Minister knows a good deal about this case; and I am going to make another appeal to him to reach finality in the matter. Briefly, the facts are that in 1903 a number of telegraphists were engaged by the old Natal Government for service in the colony at specific rates of pay. The men so engaged were obliged to sign a form of contract setting out the conditions of their employment and embodying a starting salary, with annual increments and a maximum to be ultimately reached. In 1905, owing to our old friend—or shall I say our old enemy—financial stringency, the Natal Government thought it necessary to reduce the salaries of all its employees. The salaries of these specially contracted men, contrary to all previous understanding, were also reduced along with the salaries of the others notwithstanding the fact that they came out from England under a special contract, the terms of which were to be binding on both sides. It is against this breach of faith on the part of the Natal Government that the 1903 agreement men have continued to protest. Rightly so, they keep on protesting. The men who were brought from England a year previously under similar conditions had their salaries adjusted, but the men brought out in 1903 have not. In May, 1909, the Natal Government indicated its intention of putting the matter in order. The Postmaster-General of Natal said a wrong had been done, and the present Postmaster-General is also of the same opinion. The Public Service Commission recommended that the matter should be sympathetically considered, and a select committee of this House which considered the matter in 1914 reported as follows—
In the Assembly here last session I moved—
The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs agreed to accept that motion; and I should like to read an extract from Hansard as to what the Minister said in reply. After stating that—
the Minister went on to say—
He continued—and these are fine sentiments to which the Minister gave utterance—
What I would like the Minister to do now is to tell the House how far this enquiry has proceeded; what is the position to-day, and above all, whether the reply will be favourable—as I hope it will be—to these men who have fought so long for what they consider a right and which is a right.
I should like to ask the Minister a few questions. In the first place I want to ask what the position is in connection with the general post office in Johannesburg. The public have been for a long time demanding a new post office or an enlargement of the existing one seeing that the latter is inadequate. There is not enough room. I should like to know what the Minister’s intentions are, whether we are going to get a new post office or what. We know that he said that if the town council of Johannesburg gave the ground for it that the post office would be built, but the town council has no more vacant ground for such a building. Will he therefore not take steps to buy ground for a new post office. Then in 1923 about 163 young men were discharged from the postal service and I should like to know whether he is prepared to re-employ these young people if they apply. Many of them have not yet found work out of which they can make a living.
After the complaint of the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) and the plea of my hon. friend here I think it is our duty as representatives from the country side to express a word of appreciation to the Minister and his department for the assistance they have given in connection with telephonic extension. Not a single application for telephonic connection where there was a necessity for it, has been made in vain to the Minister and his department. I can say truthfully that they have gone out of their way to give assistance.
Is the hon. member in order in discussing telephones. There are other hon. members who want to discuss the matter from another point of view.
The hon. member can ask a question.
I just wish to ask whether it is not desirable and possible for the Minister to go further.
There will be another opportunity to discuss it under the loan votes.
There are two or three matters to which I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. In a sense, they may seem unusual matters. The first one is in connection with the Cape Town wireless broadcasting station. I believe this station operates under licence from the Postmaster-General; at any rate, it is a matter coming under the department of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. I understand there is a certain measure of complaint among the Dutch-speaking listeners-in, that they do not receive that equality of treatment, as regards the Dutch language, which is due to them. As regards Dutch items, I believe a genuine effort has been made to secure these; out it is not in regard to these that I wish to draw attention, but with reference to the announcements. It is at least to be expected that when there are—as there are to-day a large number of Dutch-speaking subscribers, not only in Cape Town but all over the country, these announcements should be made in both the official languages of the country. For instance, a Dutch sermon from the Dutch Reformed Church, Adderley Street, Cape Town, being relayed and* broadcasted, is announced in the English language. The people who would be expected to listen to that sermon are all Dutch-speaking, and yet the announcement is not conveyed to them in their own language. With regard to the market reports and news items, lately there has been some improvement; but the complaint is that the Afrikaans employed is of a very poor variety, and it is felt that if these news items are announced in Afrikaans the trouble should at least be taken to have them announced in proper Afrikaans. This question is not the small matter which at the first blush it might appear. If we are going to have any equality in our country, that should be carried out in every possible way and in every respect. As regards these subscribers, it is a matter of right and courtesy to which they are entitled. When I ordinarily address this House, I always speak in my own language, unless for a special reason. When I am addressing the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, who understands English better, I address him in his own language, and so to where announcements are made to Dutch-speaking people from the broadcasting station, they should also receive that courtesy of being addressed in their own language. I think this is only a matter which needs to be placed before the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs to be put right. There is another matter, one of considerable interest and, I think, of importance, and that is in connection with the postal congress which was held last year at Stockholm. We have heard very much, since 1918, about the so-called higher status that is supposed to have been given to South Africa and the other dominions in such matters, but I am afraid it will be agreed that there has not been much practical result as regards this higher status theory. In the past the position has been that the dominions have attended these conferences as part and parcel of the British delegation, and representatives of the dominions were not accorded a separate position, but attended, as it were, as appendages of the British delegation: if hon. members will refer to the report submitted by the Postmaster-General, in regard to the international postal conference held at, Stockholm, they will see that Canada considered that that state of affairs should not be allowed to continue, and I think it should be known that our Postmaster-General. Col. Sturman together with the Canadian delegate, was, at the last congress, instrumental in securing separate representation at this postal congress. It is interesting to note that this recommendation was secured, or rather, that there was a certain amount of opposition on the part of the British Government, which seems to suggest that the higher status theory does not count with them, as it should have done. But to-day South Africa, and the other dominions, are able to attend that congress as separate countries entitled to their own vote, and separate recognition as members of that congress. I think when we are discussing the Post and Telegraph Vote, it is only right that mention should be made of this fact, and that we should show, by mentioning it, our appreciation of our own Postmaster-General, for so ably standing by the Canadian delegate and securing this separate recognition for South Africa. Col. Sturman has shown that he is one of the English-speaking South Africans who has made South Africa his home, and is prepared to stand by the motto—
With regard to promotion there is a feeling amongst the telegraph and postal officials that everything is not what it should be in connection with this matter. It is suggested that a promotion board or committee makes recommendations on this subject, but it is felt that the promotions are not dealt with on their merits. There is also a feeling that South African born men do not receive the same consideration as those from overseas. Whether this feeling is justified I cannot say, but the matter is of sufficient importance to justify investigation by the hon. the Minister.
In order that the House may be in full possession of all the facts in connection with the 1903 agreement men I wish to supplement what I have already said on the subject by stating that the matter was again reviewed by the public service commission last year, and the matter is fully dealt with in the commission’s report published this year. The commission intimates that it was unable to recommend action on the lines desired by the officials concerned, but the conclusions reached are—
- (1) That the 1902 post office agreement men were favoured in 1910 as compared with all other officials in the service of the Natal Government.
- (2) The 1903 post office agreement men were treated in the same way as all other officials in the service of Natal, excepting only the agreement men referred to.
- (3) There was no legal obligation to meet the claim of the 1903 agreement men, nor was there any moral obligation stronger than that which might be said to exist towards all other officials in the Natal service.
And this is the point I wish to emphasize. The commission concludes its report by stating—
I trust we shall hear this afternoon that the present Government intends to go one better than the previous Government, and meet the claim of these postal officials.
What is the present position, not only in regard to the mail contract, but generally in regard to freights on goods and produce? A few days ago there was a report in the press to the effect that the Minister was negotiating for the purchase of two or three steamers. The report was practically denied, and it is therefore desirable that we should know what the position is, particularly seeing that it is 12 months since the country was told with a flourish of trumpets that the Government would not allow the people to be bled by the shipping companies. The matter is all the more imperative because the position of South Africa has apparently been a matter of notice in Canada, I have a report issued by Mr. W. D. R. Priston, who was appointed by the Canadian Government to enquire into the reported steamship combine in the North Atlantic trade. He shows very conclusively that the North American shipping companies are connected with the shipping rings in South Africa and Australia, and with combines of a similar nature throughout the dominions. Mr. Priston said that when the present Government came into office negotiations were opened by the Union Government with a competitive steamship line in order to try and arrange for freight, as far as South Africa is concerned, quite independent of the shipping ring. Very shortly after negotiations were opened, however, that steamship line was absorbed by the South African shipping ring. In view of these statements—and I presume that Mr. Priston had sufficient evidence to justify him in making such an official statement—I would like to know whether such negotiations had actually taken place, and whether the time has not arrived to recognize that negotiations in connection with shipping matters are futile, and that the only solution is to be found in the policy to which the Minister is committed, and which is advocated by the Labour party and by a Nationalist party conference, namely, the establishment of State shipping.
Has provision been made for a new post office at Kopjes?
You are out of order.
Does the loquacious member for Ceres (Mr. Roux) wish to supplant the Chairman?
New postal or telephone buildings cannot be discussed under this vote, but under the Loan Estimates.
In this Vote are contained the salaries of the Minister, and of the Postmaster-General, and of the engineers who have to attend to telephone construction. Is it not competent for an hon. member to discuss what telephones are likely to be constructed? We have always done this before. What knowledge has any member, whether it is the intention of the Minister to include a single telephone in his Loan Votes? You cannot assure the Committee that the Minister is going to bring before the House an amount for telephone construction. Even if the Minister says he is going to do so, we must remember that things change from day to day. Supposing the Minister was not there, and some other Minister was in his place? There might be the same “cave” against the Minister as there is against the Minister of Defence.
The hon. member has a right to ask any question, unaccompanied by a speech. The practice has been, on this Vote, to discuss matters other than telephone and postal extensions. There is always a Loan Vote on which telephone extensions can be raised. There would be a duplicate discussion, if telephone extensions be urged on the Minister’s salary as well.
On the Loan Vote you can only discuss matters that are specifically provided for. There may be several matters left out, and hon. members cannot discuss those matters. I have never known any restriction on the discussion of the policy to be pursued on postal or telephone matters.
The Loan Vote always contains a round sum for telephones, and an hon. member may move that a certain amount be devoted to his constituency.
This is the first time in my experience we have had a restriction of the discussion. If you rule that we cannot discuss matters in connection with telephones and telephone extensions, I respectfully submit we should get the Speaker’s ruling.”
In a general way I shall be able to reply to questions of telephone extension, but I cannot reply in detail because we have not got them before us.
In the course of a discussion on telephones, I think the hon. Minister will find a strong consensus of opinion which is of such a character that will encourage him to go further on the Loan Vote than he might otherwise go. All sections of the community have learned the enormous importance of telephone communication, and a discussion now would be a great stimulus to the Minister to reconsider his Loan Vote and extend the amount, which, up to the present, the Treasury is allowing him to put on.
It is not the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs that wants a stimulus, but the Minister of Finance. I am circumscribed by what can be afforded on the Vote. I am prepared to answer questions, but my activities depend upon the money I get from the Treasury.
If an hon. member wishes to advocate the claims of a particular district for a new post office, he cannot, according to your ruling, do so under this Vote. Then we come to the Loan Vote, and there is no item on that to cover that particular post office. Would he, on that Vote, be able to get up and advocate the claims of his district or town for a new post office? If not, what opportunity would be given to hon. members to raise the point?
There is a lump sum put down for the purpose of telephone extensions, and if any hon. member wishes to advocate certain postal or telephone extensions when the Loan Vote comes on, I certainly will allow it. I may also say that if it is desired to discuss the policy of the Government at that stage, I would allow that, too.
I should like to call the Minister’s attention to the agitation, especially on the country-side, for all the people who have telephonic communication to be connected up with the police station so that they can call up the police station in the night from a farm when the ordinary office is closed. I think this is a very reasonable request, which should without fail be granted, and I hope that the Minister can do so. Then I am unfortunately not in the position of the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) to be able to say that everything required has been done. In my constituency in certain parts there is no telephonic connection and I should be glad if the Minister will inform us whether Molteno, especially, will be considered with a view to getting telephonic connection as soon as possible.
I want to call the attention of the Minister to the position of the Fordsburg post office. I want to show the Minister where we can shift from one post office to another with greater advantage to the public. It is a matter of 18 months ago when a predecessor of the present Minister spent about £12,000 in building the post office in a back street of Fordsburg, and he pulls down buildings standing on land, the site value of which is about £150. The building in the main street of Fordsburg to-day stands empty with the exception of some small stores. The value, roughly, of the building is £8,000 to £10,000, and the site value of the ground on which it stands is £3,000. I would put the’ rental, roughly, of that building at £100 a month. The whole attitude of the Department in having removed the post office from the main road to a back street is inexplicable to any person who knows the district. I would like the Minister to go into the question and give it attention for the convenience of the public. I think he should bring the material and the officials back to the old post office and he will find he will get a much better return in that office, and the public will be better served.
I want to ask the Minister what, the position is in regard to the mail contract, and what will happen if the Union-Castle Co. give us ordinary notice. It also has an interest with regard to the producers of mealie crops in the Free State and the western Transvaal. I think I pointed out before in this House, and I want now to bring the matter under the attention of the Minister, and I would ask him whether the time has not arrived when we should not tie up our freight with the mail contract. I would point out that it is reported from Buenos Aires to-day that there are 140 ships lying in the River Plate waiting for mealies, and that for their July loading they are only getting 17s. They are sending those boats over here where they are getting 27s. 6d. I take it the Minister or some other Minister will have to go to England this year to fix up this mail contract. At the present time a penalty of 10s. 6d. per ton is being imposed on the South African farmer. I think the Government should take its courage into its hand and charter ships at once for the maize shipments. If the Government did that it would find that the shipping ring would not talk as big as it is doing to-day. I hope the Minister will discuss the matter with the Union-Castle Company, because a great penalty is being imposed to-day on the mealie growers of South Africa. I do not say we should buy our own boats, but we should charter boats. If we were to charter boats at once, it would make the conference sit up. At the present time ships are going to Buenos Aires in ballast, 200 miles further than our ports, and they are taking mealies away at cheap rates.
I would like to ask why the shippers themselves cannot charter ships. Why should we throw the chartering upon the Government? It is true that there are ships lying in the River Plate to-day which cannot get cargoes, but as a matter of fact it is open to any buyer or exporter in South Africa to charter some of these ships, bring them over here and fill them. One big buyer has done it. He has got a rate of 21s. and is exporting now. Why always put this kind of thing on the Government? Everything must go on to the Government. Surely to. God there are some people with enterprise in this country! It is open to anybody, there are no restrictions upon anyone wanting to charter ships if they wish to, and I have no doubt they would get a rate of even less than 21s. There is one big shipper getting a rate of 21s., and I believe that is for the long ton. He is not the only man in South Africa. Other people wishing to ship mealies can also charter. I believe the rate for the mail boats is 25s., but that is for parcels, not a shipload, mealies in bags and so forth.
Why should not the Government charter?
Why should the Government charter? They will drop money on the business I have no doubt in the long run. I want to see some individuals come in and not let us have these matters always put on to the Government. Do you want to take all the morale out of the mercantile people in this country? I would also like to ask the Minister what is the position in regard to wireless communication with Great Britain. I understand there have been differences between the people on the other side and the post office here.
I just want to say a few words about what the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) has said here in connection with the oversea mail contract. We know that the hon. Minister and the Minister of Railways and Harbours had a meeting recently with the shipping companies and that the negotiations practically ended in a deadlock. We should like to know what arrangements the Government is going to make in connection with that. A great deal depends on it, namely, what is to happen about the export of maize? The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) said that the private people must hire ships, but then the farmers do not know what they will get for the maize. The purchasers will then make out that so and so much had to be paid for freight. If the Government makes provision as in the past then we know more or less what it is. I only hope that the Minister will get more favourabe conditions than the former Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, who practically left it to the shipping company to fix the freights at their pleasure. There is a large surplus of mealies in the country. The Minister of Railways is already making provision for the carriage, and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs must take steps to see that our harbours are not congested.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) has urged that the Government should make provision for the ocean transport of maize. Maize is not the only produce we expect, and if the Government has got to enter into contracts providing for maize then we shall have to make provision for fruit, wool and other kinds of produce for export. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North knows quite well what took place in the House here a little while ago when we passed legislation providing for a board of control.
Ships came here for the fruit and you had no fruit for them.
I would also wish that every provision be made for export, of maize, because we know there is a large surplus of maize, but we cannot always rely upon the Government doing it for one branch, and not for another. If it does it for one section, then it has to do it for other sections also. What I am afraid is if we have to rely upon the Government, I do not mean from this Government—any Government—we will not be any better off for it. If exporters were to make arrangements on their own behalf they would get much cheaper terms than through the Government. I would also like to know exactly what is the position in regard to the mail contract. The Minister, a year ago, when he made a statement with regard to the mail contract, said he was not of opinion that you should have your produce rates tied up to the mail contract. Since then we know he has departed from that. I do not say he is wrong now. I think he should make provision wherever he can for produce rates. Then I want to draw his attention to a little local matter if I may. The postal officials at Worcester are labouring at a very great disadvantage. Their accommodation is very inadequate. The municipality has made certain suggestions, and I know the municipality wants to meet them very generously with regard to a site; and I would like to know what the position is with regard to that also, when does he intend starting his building operations.
I understand that we cannot discuss telephonic extension in the country.
Only about the general policy of the Minister.
Then I will take another opportunity of speaking about it. But I should like to point out the extraordinary high charges for telephonic communication. When I telephone from Cape Town to Loxton I must pay 6s., 5s. for the call and 1s. for three minutes’ conversation. The result is that very few people make use of the telephone. The postal rates have been reduced and I hope that the Minister will also be able to reduce the rates for telephonic communication. We know that when the railway rates were so high far fewer people made use of the railway than when the rates were reduced.
I think the hon. member for Worcester (Mr. Heatlie) has fallen rather foul of this matter. I am just trying to bring it to the notice of hon. members over there what our position is. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) invokes the name of the deity, and says why should the Government charge? The hon. member himself ran it across and made it pay. I am not going to argue the point of State shipping. What we want to know—and it is a big thing to us in the Free State, where we are not lucky enough to be in the ports—is what the Government is going to do to help us to get this million bags of maize away. While we are doing this we will ask hon. members opposite to be quiet. It does not make any difference to them. We want 200 ships. We are asking the Minister, if he goes to England this year, to do something for us in England. The only way we can get our market is to get ships.
I think my hon. friend does not understand the trade. Suppose the Government gets ships out here—who is going to fill them? You can get the ships by private charter. In the Argentine just now there is a shortage of maize. Vessels have gone there and they would be only too glad to come across. Take the people who are largely in the trade. They charter a vessel from over there; they fill her and she starts away. All that cargo is sold in Europe, Great Britain, Germany, France or Holland. When the vessel is approaching the European shores, the captain gets a cable telling him to deliver his mealies to such and such a port. You cannot send them simply to offload in London or Southampton or Hull. Whole shiploads are sold and no Government could undertake that trade, they are bound to lose. With regard to rates, it is all right to have a special rate for the steamship companies when the trade is small. The 10s. rate was all right to make the trade in South. Africa; but there is a disadvantage if you have the 10s. rate with the Union Castle company. No vessel can carry at that rate. When the trade gets to a certain size you cannot confine it to one company, and you have got to bring in outside steamers to carry it. As an instance, we have a special rate for oranges. I believe 25s. I understand the board of control have been trying to bring in some Australian boats or get outside boats to carry them and they are asking 70s. to bring in a special boat to come here to carry the surplus. Even the special rates have disadvantages and would not be to the advantage of the mealie farmers. We are just as keen to help the mealie farmers as the hon. member is, but we want to keep the Government out of it, because if any Government steps in they will make a mess of it.
I think I had better reply to some of the questions which have been put to me. The hon. member for Beaufort West (Mr. E. H. Louw) drew attention to unilingual broadcasting. We have really no direct control of the working of the broadcasting station, except in so far as they do anything which is not in the public interest. Now that the hon. member has raised the point, I shall raise it with the local broadcasting council, and perhaps they will do more than they have done to meet what is undoubtedly a legitimate complaint. With regard to the second point, I am glad the hon. member for Beaufort West has paid tribute to the work which the postmaster-general (Col. Sturman) has done at the Stockholm Conference, when he, together with one or two of the other dominion delegates, secured, for the dominions, almost separate representation. Hitherto, South Africa and the other dominions have been regarded as part of the. British delegation.
They had a separate vote.
Yes, but alphabetically they appeared under “G” Great Britain. To-day they are under “A” Africa, which heads the list, and when the delegates march into the convention they march in in the order of countries. There is, therefore, a greater degree of independence than before this was achieved, and I am very glad it is so. The hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie) wanted to know whether I would put back the new post office at Fordsburg into the old building, which he says is empty. The position is that when we took office twelve months ago, what the hon. member complains of was an accomplished fact; the new building was up and the post office was in, but not the telephone exchange. They were not ready in the new building although it was put up primarily for a telephone exchange, they were not ready to transfer the telephone exchange to the new building, and the result is that, after transferring the postal section, they closed down the postal section which was in the main thoroughfare, but the place has not been left empty. The top portion of the building has been utilized by the telephone exchange. As soon as we can transfer the exchange to the new building, we will probably get rid of the old building. Personally, I do not see why the post office was ever moved, but the accommodation in the old building was not deemed sufficient for the telephone exchange, and they built a larger place a few yards away, in a side street, to accommodate the post office and the telephone exchange as well. I have made a note of the position, and have told the Public Works Department and the telephone people that they have got to get the matter put right as soon as possible. The hon. member for Stamford Hill (Mr. Lennox) asked whether it wouldn’t be possible to increase the facilities for utilizing the telephone in the country districts particularly with regard to week-ends and evenings. At one o’clock on Saturdays they close down, and the hours are very circumscribed. That applies to hundreds of places in the Union. It all depends on the amount of traffic offering. You cannot keep your telephone exchange open for one, two, or even three families. If there is sufficient traffic offering, or possible business there, you can rest assured that we will grant the extra facilities. In order to try to come to some definite arrangement in this regard, sometime ago I asked the department to try to classify the telephone exchanges, so that their hours of keeping open would depend on the volume of business done, the same as we do with the status of post offices. Every post office is classified according to the amount of work done, and the salary of the postmaster is based on the volume of business. It might be a 10, 15 or 50 unit office. It would be very expensive for the country if we are going to open out-of-the-way telephone exchanges at week-ends and at night time for the sake of hardly any business that might be offered. The automatic exchanges would solve that difficulty as they can run night and day. I am having enquiries made in regard to the traffic at that particular exchange, and the possibility of extending the service. The question of a new post office at East London really comes under the Loan Vote. Hon. members will not find any mention of new post offices in this vote. The matter has not been overlooked. I can assure the hon. member for East London (City) (the Rev. Mr. Rider) that the matter will be kept well to the front. As to a new post office at Johannesburg, I put certain proposals to the Johannesburg Town Council regarding alternative schemes, but they have been unable to come to an agreement and have been at sixes and sevens with regard to a site. Seeing, however, that it is contemplated to have a new railway station at Johannesburg, we might possibly come to an arrangement whereby all the letter-sorting and parcel traffic for Johannesburg might be accommodated in the railway station, and the present post office buildings utilized for administrative and telephone and other work. If that were done, the present building would be quite large enough to cope with all the business, but the whole thing is still in the air. The hon. member behind me has referred to 63 postal servants who, he said, had been retrenched. We have not retrenched men during the past year. The 63 mentioned were previously retired in the ordinary way for re-organization purposes. You cannot re-organize them back, and those who were entitled to pensions have received them. I have taken a personal and keen interest in the question of telephone extension in the country districts, and I am pressing hard for a much greater sum of money to be placed at our disposal in the new loan estimates for telephone extension than we have ever had before. I do not regard money spent on this purpose as expenditure, but as an investment. We get a return from it, and it should not be looked upon as non-productive expenditure of any kind whatsoever. Last year we put down 5,000 miles of telephone lines in the country districts alone, and I am trying very hard to arrange for the construction of 6,000 miles during the coming year.
Does the telephone department pay?
Taking the good with the bad, it is just coming out. I am not in a position to reduce the telephone charges at present, but I hope later on we may be able to do something in that direction. At present it is out of the question, though we might possibly make the payments easier. However, it is no use doing that where we have not room or plant for development. I regard telephones as an investment, and the more telephones we have the better for South Africa. It is gratifying to know that the people on the farms, particularly the women-folk, highly value the telephone, which they find most useful for keeping them in touch with their neighbours and with the local police station. However, telephone extensions take time and money, and* the more money we can get the quicker we shall be able to proceed with the work. Out of the 410 additional men referred to on the estimate, 150 of them have been working for the department for five years, and these men should not be called temporary servants. The number of engineering workmen placed on the permanent establishment last year was 11; this year I am placing on the permanent establishment 200 men. They will not receive any higher pay, but they will be able to join the pension fund. Some of these men have been working for the department for 15 or 20 years. Why should they be regarded all that time as temporary employees?
Why don’t you do as the Railway Department does, put them on the pension list when they join the service?
I shall be glad to have the hon. member’s support in that, but the matter has to be referred to the public service commission. The postal department is going ahead by leaps and bounds. The expenditure has increased by £96,000, but £60,000 of that represents the ordinary increment. The other £30,000 covers the air-mail and other expenses, provision for 30 extra postmen, 50 extra messengers, and 28 telephone assistants, all this being due to development, All these increases have been before the public service commission. When one realizes that the vote amounts to nearly £3,000,000 the expansion is not excessive by any means. Then there are the questions of the mail contract, the air mail service, and the wireless. Before dealing with these I had better turn my attention to the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander). That is almost an afternoon’s work in itself. He asked what the position was in regard to the postal service in South-West Africa, whether the director of postal services came under the Union postmaster-general. No he does not. He comes under the South-West administration service. Their conditions of service are the same as the Union except that they have a higher local allowance, which is usual. The conditions of promotions and appointments are governed by the public service commission. It makes recommendations there as well as in the Union. The hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) brought forward the question of promotion. Promotion to give satisfaction is difficult at any time. The procedure is this. Anybody is entitled to apply for any vacancy. All the applications, or if there are not any, the men who are suitable for the post are considered by the promotions Committee. There is a promotion committee in the north and another in the south and they consist of the assistant secretary, the surveyor and the principal clerk. Each of these committees put forward to the postmaster-general the names of three officers suitable, in their opinion, in their order of precedence, for any post that is going. The postmaster-general has these six names before him and he picks out one. That name is forwarded to the public service commission who have their own files and records and know who is senior and so on. It is then referred to the Minister for his approval. Extreme care is taken with regard to promotion. The two cases referred to by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street), he does not refer to the names, but I know the cases, were cases where one was 29th on the list of seniority and the other he said was 150 down. The officials selected these men because from their point of view they were peculiarly suited for the posts. It is true there were others who were senior and very efficient men, but because in these two cases they showed special inclination for that work, they were put in the position which gave them the promotion. Both these cases were bona fide promotions on merit. I don’t care what promotions are made on merit, there is always a greater number of objectors to that sort of pro motion than to any other sort. There was no question of favouritism; it was an honest attempt to pick out men who were suitable, and that is not casting any reflection on these who were passed over. You must take seniority plus efficiency. In most of the cases there is no difficulty. The difficulty is that there is .1 considerable amount of congestion and promotions are slow. For instance, we have 2,168 second and third rate clerks and there are only 510 positions above them, that is from £500 per annum upwards. This number is looking for these 510 positions and in the ordinary way promotions would be more rapid but we have in the service a large number of men who were taken on just after the war and who are about the same age, second and third grade clerks who cannot get promotion because they are following close behind those who have not quite reached the retiring age and they themselves will reach the retiring age before they get promotion. I will ask the public service commission to go into the question as to whether there are a sufficient number of first class clerkships. There are 228 of them and it may be possible to create a few more, that is, if they are required. Then we have the men of 55 years of age. In Natal and the Transvaal the retiring age is 55 and many of these men don’t want to go, whilst the younger men say they ought to be put out. The older men themselves say they don’t want to be put out as they have their wives and families to support and the pensions are too low. In the Cape and Free State the retiring age is 60 and there are amongst them men begging to get out before reaching that age. If they are allowed to go the treasury has to find the revenue for the pensions because it cannot come out of the pensions fund before the legal retiring age. I am putting up a proposal to the treasury to try and ease the position and make promotion quicker by increasing some of the first class posts and releasing those men of 55 years of age who want to go. I am loth to put out the Natal and Transvaal men who don’t want to go. If they are thoroughly trained, efficient and reliable, and we have work for them, we keep them. Another question brought forward was that of the unestablished postmasters. The hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) asked on what basis we made a post office unestablished. The present Government have not unestablished any. About five years ago, in 1920-’21, there were a large number of post offices on the establishment that were unestablished at that time. The number to day is 175. It means that the work at these offices does not exceed 7 units. If there are 3 units that post office would carry a man or a woman on the establishment, but below that it is regarded as not having sufficient volume and variety of work to justify the putting in of an established postmaster or postmistress. In offices of two or three units the salary is £200 a year and of 7 units it is £300 a year. The hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) will realize all these unestablished offices are only created in accordance with the volume of work that office has to deal with. We have not disestablished any. The next point raised by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) was in connection with postmasters or officials who had been put out of the service, and brought back into the service and who are still getting the same rate of pay as if they had not left the service. He said that the effect of this was to discourage those who were in the service. I think the hon. member must be referring to some exceptional case. At any rate, whatever salary they get is governed and laid down by the public service commission. Within the last twelve months or so, it has been laid down that men shall not be taken back into the service who have already been put off. Supposing these men had not got the salary applicable to the particular post to which they were appointed, suppose they got less, I can imagine how the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) would raise his voice in protest and say—
The next question raised by the hon. member was in connection with the augmentation and introduction of a large number of temporary employees since I took office. That was unavoidable, for the reason that there had been a considerable amount of retrenchment two or three years ago, large numbers of qualified and highly-paid men were retired, and at the same time no learners were being trained. They had stopped the training of learners. Trained men were doing work of a less degree of importance, such as sorting letters, and so on. They were at once taken off that work. They were telegraphists, trained men, drawing £300 or £400 a year. They were put on to telegraph work and other important duties. We could not train men quickly enough to fill the positions, and we had to go and take on men who were capable of doing this lesser work—temporary men. This position of affairs synchronized with our taking office. The post office complained that there was a shortage owing to retrenchment on one hand, and to no learners having been taken on the other hand.
Was that owing to the increase of business?
No, that was the ordinary work. There were some taken on, of course, for the extra Christmas rush. But in the ordinary process of administration we found ourselves in the position of wanting more men. The position will right itself eventually, because every year we are going to train a number of boys as learners. These will be trained, and will be gradually worked in, and there won’t be the need, then, to take on these temporary men, as we did a few months ago. I have discussed this matter fully with the Postal and Telegraph Association, and they see the position exactly and admit that in time it will be righted.
That is rather a reflection on the post office, because it has been over re trenched.
No, it is not a reflection on the post office. I suppose under the directions and instructions of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) they cut down too close to the bone. They were told to cut down, and not take on any new men, and retrench as fast as they could. That created the necessity for the temporary men. The next point raised by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) was that there were some complaints that there had not been sufficient consultation with the staff. I do not suppose any Minister has received more deputations from the different staff associations and individuals than I have. Never once has any individual or any association asked for an interview on any subject but I have arranged it, and discussed matters with the parties concerned. We have a departmental committee which sits every six months. That departmental committee, a form of Whitleyism, consists of six members of the staff and six representatives of the administration. They sit round the table and discuss things in common, and endeavour to come to some agreement. I have made it my business to attend as many of those meetings as I could, and have taken part in the debates. If there is anything further that I can do in this direction, I am quite prepared to do it. As an illustration of this lack of consultation, the hon. member referred to the duties of the temporary men, the cheap sorter class, and the indefinite position of women. The position of women and what they get is governed by the Public Service Commission by the seals, the same as everybody else. If the hon. member will show me in what precise way their position is indefinite, then I might be able to deal with it. With regard to the cheap sorter class and temporary men, I may say that I have made it my business to go into these matters. Then the hon. member came to circular No. 2 of 1921, relating to the long service increment to men in the general division. The general division includes other branches besides the postal servants, and it is therefore a question of general Government policy. I am not in a position, as Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, at the moment, to go against the policy. The Government policy in the past has been that the men in the general division should not receive the long service increment because many of them are getting standard rates of pay. It was granted because the pay of servants like the general body of assistants, to whom I have referred, were unable to get promotion quickly enough, in order to try and help them along in the meantime.
Some of them are not getting that either.
All the general body of assistants should be getting it, but not the general division. It is the general division that is complaining about it. The general division includes everybody—night watchmen, mechanics, artizans, etc., some on standard rates of pay.
There were four divisions mentioned in the circular, and only one of the four is getting it.
The Treasury informed me, in regard to that circular, that it was never meant that the other three should get it. It is the Public Service Commission’s attitude on the matter. The Minister of the Interior has promised to bring up quite a number of these things during the recess. That is one of the items. The same in regard to the next question that the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) raised. He asked whether the Government had considered the resolution which he moved, and which I accepted a few weeks ago, that the learners in the post office who got their appointments about. April, 1923, should come on to the old scale, though the commission and the Treasury said that they must come on to the new scale. That is another of the things which the Minister of the Interior is bringing up for Cabinet discussion. The hon. member next asked me about the coloured postmen. He asked me whether I had received a letter dated June 13, with regard to their position. Yes, I received that letter. The position is this. They are all working in offices which are graded as second or third grade offices. While working there they cannot get the pay of the postmen in first grade offices. I had a certain amount of sympathy with these men when they came to see me. I must point out that it does not only affect coloured men; it also affects white men, not in Cape Town, but in other places, in the lower grade offices. It seems to me that something should be done to try and meet them. I asked the South African Postmen’s Association to discuss this question as to whether they could put up some scheme to enable the postmen to get to the top grade. They submitted proposals to me and I was disappointed with them, because they still kept the first and second grade officers and only did away with the third grade. I made a suggestion to the Public Service Commission but it was turned down. I am putting up another suggestion dealing with this matter, particularly with regard to the coloured postmen. If it is approved of I think their position will be met. I am doing what I can; I am sympathetic with their point of view’. The next point of the hon. member was that he said hitherto the associations had been able to send communications direct to the Minister, but recently they had been told they could only send them through the heads of departments. I have received many communications direct, but in the case of those asking for interviews I think it is better they should go through the heads of departments; because once or twice when I have granted an interview and my secretary has fixed up a time it was only at the 11th hour that the higher officials knew they had to come. If such communications go through the head of the department they can make suitable arrangements. Further than that, in individual cases the regulations lay down that they should go through the ordinary channels, and I think it is better they should do so. I have given instructions that any communications or letters addressed to me must be sent to me as quickly as possible. I must not be kept in ignorance of the fact that someone wants to see me. Going through the ordinary channel does not delay matters and does not prejudice the position one little bit. It gives everyone a chance. The next point the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander) raised was in connection with the men who have been called upon to go to another centre to take up post office work and then have been retrenched. I think he mentioned the case of a Mr. Atmore. The position is this. When they disestablished all these officers a few years ago, they had to find some one to fill their places; and the Administration said “We have already put a lot of postmasters off on pension; why not give them a chance to be employed in the smaller post offices.” A number of them were taken on in that way. This man Atmore was one of them; he was sent to Wellington. Then another notice came out in 1923, that no pensioners were to be kept on in the service. He happened to be one of those who had been taken on again. He was put off with many others. He said—
I am afraid he is in the position of many others. He was given no guarantee of permanent employment; it was a temporary position, although I admit it is a hard case. I am afraid the Treasury will object to paying out in cases like that. The next point the hon. member raised was that the staff cannot find out what happens to the recommendations of the departmental committee. I spoke to the postmaster-general about that and he said that many of these recommendations involve expenditure, and have to go before the Public Service Commission. There they have been hung up. We have approached the Public Service Commission to try and get them expedited. I will make it my business to find out what recommendations are hung up and why they are hung up and I will see if I cannot get them fixed up. His next point was the wireless station at Port Nolloth. I think he said it cost £3,000 to keep it going. That is not correct; it is less than £1,000. You want to know why it is kept going. It was a gift from the Imperial Government on the condition that we kept it in repair and good condition so that if they wanted to use it, it would be available. The whole wireless position is now more or less being considered. Until it is settled I am afraid we must keep the Port Nolloth station in working order. It is the most powerful station in the country. The actual cost is £987. We are now going to try and keep in touch with the “Repulse” when she goes to South America; we are using the station for experimental purposes. Until we can finally settle our wireless arrangements, the position cannot be altered. In regard to the point raised by the hon. member for Cane Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) of men injured on duty, in my opinion the position is unsatisfactory. The only department which deals with this in a proper way seems to me to be the Railway Department. It was only recently that the matter was brought to my notice, I was not aware that the position was so unsatisfactory. Now, if a man is injured, the Workmen’s Compensation Act applies at once to him and he gets half-pay, but out of that he has to pay his medical expenses, even although he may have been injured on duty through no fault of his own. That is not right. I am going into the case mentioned by the hon. member, and other cases, to see whether we cannot put matters on a better footing. Then the hon. member pointed out, in regard to gratuities, that if a native or coloured man goes out of the service, he gets a gratuity based on his length of service, but a European who has been a temporary employee for a good many years, who is put out of the service, according to the Act, gets nothing. That is an anomaly which I am hoping to rectify; it is only about three months since I had two men in the Public Works Department who had been for many years working just outside Cape Town, and who were put off at 65 years of age, I think, and got nothing. I took up the matter with the Public Service Commission and that body approached the Treasury and have put a different interpretation on section 67 of the Public Service Act of 1923. That section says that a gratuity can be paid to a man who is put off; that is, a man who holds a “post?’ Up to now, the Public Service Commission have ruled that temporary men did not hold a “post” because they were not on the establishment. The previous clause, No. 66, of the Act says that in the case of a native or coloured person who had been in the service for so many years he should get a gratuity. I am hoping to get the matter fixed up, as I have the Public Service Commission with me. If a coloured man gets a gratuity, it is only right that a European should be treated in the same way. In regard to the leave regulations being overdue, they have been overdue for sometime. I have done my best to expedite the matter. I have made several representations during the last six months to the Public Service Commission and the Postmaster-General; but they have been consulting the staff. The Public Service Commission drew up the regulations and referred them to the advisory council. They were then referred back to the Commission and they have been see-sawing between the Advisory Council and the Public Service Commission, but I think before long they will be promulgated. I cannot say anything in regard to the question of certain men in the engineering branch being placed in the lower technical division, but I will look it up.
Take the big questions.
Yes, I will now come to the big questions.
You have not dealt with all the small points yet.
Oh, yes; with regard to the post office at Worcester, we are still negotiating with the town council. They were offering a site which was not big enough, and the Public Works Department is negotiating with them with a view to getting a proper site, so that we can go ahead with the post office. We do not only want to house the post office, but the magistrate’s office and everything else. I may say that I took a personal interest in this matter, and I met the mayor of. Worcester, and we are doing what we can to get the matter fixed up as quickly as possible. In regard to the mail contract, the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) is under the impression that in some way or other the mail contract ties the hands of maize shippers and others shipping from South Africa. The mail contract in no way ties anybody’s hands, because anybody who does not like to take advantage of the terms offered in the mail contract can make his own arrangements and get freight from anywhere he likes. I admit that the position is not satisfactory, and the Shipping Department, which is now under the Railway Department, and the Agricultural Department, have been in close touch with the shipping companies with a view to increasing shipping facilities for our maize and other things. We expect to export 10,000,000 bags of maize this coming year, and the conference lines will have a job to carry it all. I do not expect they will be able to carry it all. We will have to make arrangements either through them or through outside channels to get extra ships here. There is nothing to stop private shippers, or the Maize Growers’ Association, from chartering one, two or twenty steamers and bringing them here; but whether they will get it for 17s., I am doubtful. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) says 21s. That is lower than the present rate, and there is no better way you can tackle the conference lines than by getting ships at a lower rate than they are prepared to charge. It is legitimate business to do that. In regard to the contract itself, hon. members know that last year when the question was raised we said we were going to go into it. During the recess we did so. The negotiations broke down because the Union-Castle Co. refused to accept the conditions and terms which, in our opinion, were favourable to the farmers and the best interests of South Africa. The primary stumbling block was, no doubt, the maize rate. It was not so much the Union-Castle Co. as the associated lines, who must have brought pressure to bear, and would not agree to the rate which Mr. Robertson Gibb, in the earlier part of the negotiations had agreed to, after a tremendous amount of discussion. He had cabled home to tell them what was being agreed to, but on the other side they put their foot down. They said it was on the question of the subsidy. We could have met them on that, but they broke off because they evidently thought we were driving too hard a bargain in regard to the produce and maize rate; but it was not too hard compared with freights in other parts of the world. We wanted to put South Africa in as good a position as the Argentine and other countries, and the negotiations broke down. We may expect any day to hear that they are prepared to open negotiations on a new basis. I am not in a position to say more. With regard to wireless, in a couple of months’ time we expect to have the beam station operating. Whether we are to go on with the super station depends entirely on the satisfaction that the beam service will give us. The Marconi Company is under legal obligation to the Government to build a super station and to carry out that service. That obligation still holds good. After spending £150,000, out of the estimated total expenditure of £400,000. they asked us to be allowed to suspend operations, in order to prove what the beam system will do. The Marconi Company requested a six months’ extension which we gave them, but neither they nor the British station were ready. Now the difficulties have all been overcome, and the British station expects to be ready towards the end of the year, or October perhaps. The Cape station expects to be ready in September or October, and a committee is now set up in Great Britain which includes representatives of the dominions. Our high commissioner and postmaster-general will represent the Union, and Mr. Penrose, of the Marconi Company, will also attend. That committee will lay down the machinery for operating the service and deciding the rates.
It may be working by November?
I don’t think so, but it might be. I have done my best to expedite the matter on the other side in fairness to the company here. We now come to the air mail service I appreciate what the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Maj. Miller) said in regard to the way in which the service has been run. We have had the experiment, and the service proved efficient and was an unqualified success. It was a splendid service and ran like clockwork. The question arose whether we would continue it. I made it known that we were prepared to receive proposals from any company with that object in view. These proposals were very late in coming in and then we did not receive many However, we had a good few enquiries, and one big firm sent us a most elaborate statement showing that the service would cost £47,000 to run, but they did not say they were prepared to run it, and they did not make a definite offer. We had several concerns asking what we were prepared to do ourselves. I was not in a position to tell them at that time, because the civil air board had not met. However, the board met just before I went on tour and decided that the experimental service having served its purpose should cease. During the three months that the service was run it carried 50,000 letters, about 5,000 postcards and between six and seven hundred parcels, but it did not get nearly the traffic from the other side that was expected. On the other hand, the people of South Africa did even better than we expected. I have been blamed for not advertising the air mail service more extensively. It certainly was well advertised in this country, and I got Reuters and the press to cable to London regarding the service. I also got the high commissioner to work on the matter. The Railway Publicity Department made the service known in England, and the British post office’s weekly circulars contained references to it. We asked the South African Chambers of Commerce and business firms to interest their British representatives in the service. More than that, I do not see what I could do. The reason we did not get better support from the other side was, I think, largely due to the fact that people in England did not think the service was going to be permanent, and I do not think they really entered into it in the way they would have done had it been a permanent service. The question arose whether we should run it ourselves as a permanent service, but it cost us £800 a week; there being two machines on each of the three stages. We practically monopolized the air force of the Defence Department. For military purposes, the service was said to be no good. It was inadvisable to continue it, seeing that, although it cost so much, the revenue was only £80 a week, but it showed what could be done. However, the Defence Department said it was taking its men away from their military training so the Civil Air Board recommended that the service should cease. The board also said that it would like to see a service maintained, provided it was not too expensive. Up to quite recently the proposals we have had have been quite out of the question. We turned down passengers, as the machines were unsuitable for passenger work and, rather than run the risk of an accident, we refused to carry passengers. I am just as keen, and I am more than satisfied, having had the experiment, that we have proved an efficient air service can be run in this country. I am as keen as ever to get a service established on a reasonable basis. The proposals we had were out of the question. The Defence Department put up a proposal for us to give them £45,000 for five machines, and take on ten pilots, and they would run a service at a cost of £20,000 a year. The Civil Air Board would not agree with that. I have been in touch with the whole position, but I have not said anything to the press, because I was not in a position to do so.
You must allow them to carry passengers.
We are going to do so, passengers, mail and goods. The only reason we did not carry passengers in the last experiment was on account of the unsuitability of the machines. Proposals have been put up to me which brings an air service within reasonable prospects, and I shall be glad to see it go through. They will be first-class passenger machines of a modern type, carrying four or five passengers each, and up to 800 lbs. weight in goods. I am not prepared to go shouting from the house tops what this man or that man is proposing to do, but I am keen on it, and am working to get something on a reasonable basis. I agree with the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Maj. Miller) that it would be a good thing to have on our air board someone who has had experience on civil aviation. I shall keep that in mind. In regard to the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) he brought forward the question of the special Natal contract men of 1903, who claim to be placed on the same basis as the contract men of 1902, who, according to the commission, were accorded very favourable consideration. I adhere to everything I said last year. I brought the matter before the Cabinet. It has been put in the category of those things, like the long service increment, which the Minister of the Interior, in whose department these things come, is going, during the recess, to ask the Cabinet to consider. There are several old-standing problems. He will bring them all forward for the Cabinet to deal with. I went into the report carefully, and the law advisers say these men have no legal claim. They claimed it because the 1902 men got it, but the commission says the 1902 men were exceptionally favourably treated, and that they were not justified in having that treatment, because their contract was only for a period of two years, and they could have put them out at the end of the two years if they had liked to. The Minister of the Interior has promised to include it in a batch of things to come before the Cabinet at the earliest opportunity during the recess.
I thank the Minister for the way he has dealt with the matters I have brought to his notice, and with regard to consultation with the organized staff, a matter about which he asked for information, I should like to say the men of the department are disappointed that in practice he has neglected to carry the consultation principle into effect. Perhaps the Minister will bear in mind what I say, and I must tell the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that the State will benefit. I gave illustrations in the case of the temporary men, the cheap sorter class and the indefinite position of women. My point is that it is better to have your consultation before, rather than have your friction first and consultation after. By indefinite position of women I mean women who are engaged for one class of employment, and then put to do work of a higher class at the lower rate of pay. For instance, one is engaged as a telephonist, and is then put on to do telegraphic work at a lower rate, and the men resent it. Recently, I am told, girls were engaged as typists on a scale of £90 to £120 a year, and were then used to work the Morse code, work which was being done by men on a higher scale. If the Minister had consulted with the staff they could have come to some arrangement whereby the work could have been properly arranged. If the Minister would consult with the representatives of the organization, there would be no difficulty in deciding points of this kind which are debatable. Most of these grievances which we bring forward so far as the staff is concerned, would disappear if the consultative principle were brought into operation.
There is no doubt that the House has listened to an important and long explanation by the Minister of Posts and telegraphs. But I am not quite satisfied with the answer he gave to the hon. member for Fordsburg (Mr. J. S. F. Pretorius) in connection with the post office in Johannesburg. It is very difficult to talk about the matter, because nearly all the Ministers are interested in the public works in Johannesburg. He has spoken of a portion of the post office at the station, but his answer was not quite clear. It was not plain whether they would now proceed to build a new station and whether the amount for that would be placed on the loan estimates. He said that the deputation did not tell him where the ground for the post office would be available. It is impossible to the taxpayers of Johannesburg to give him the ground for those purposes. They are a patient body of people, but their patience is not endless. The public buildings of Johannesburg are a scandal, although it is a great city which pays a great deal of our taxation. And then the Minister wants to adopt the principle that the town Council must supply the ground for other buildings. The Minister says that there is a proposal to get a post office at the railway station. If he can assure me that a start will be made with the railway station and the other buildings for the post office there, then I think that it is quite satisfactory. But we are still groping in the dark in connection with the matter. The Minister must meet the taxpayers of Johannesburg, because they pay every year about £1.000 to send representatives to Cape Town to put their grievances before the Minister. I hope that there will be an end to this and that we shall see provision made on the loan estimates for the necessary buildings. Does the Government already possess ground at the railway station? This is one of the parts of Johannesburg which has made great progress, and I shall be glad if the Government can build the offices there. I shall have to wait for the loan estimates until I can speak further about the matter, but I cannot remain satisfied with the answer given to the hon. member for Fordsburg. He must not wish to lay down the principle that a town should furnish the ground when it wants a public building. The taxpayers have to pay for it, and Johannesburg is the largest town in the Union which does not possess appropriate buildings.
I am glad to hear that the Minister is prepared to give very sympathetic consideration to the claims of men in the service who suffer disabilities, caused by being injured on duty. With regard to the leave regulations, seeing that this matter has not been definitely decided, I hope that he will go into it very carefully to see that no anomalies exist in future. Right throughout the railway service and the public service generally there is too much of what I think is class distinction. You can give it what name you like, but there are certain classes of railway and public servants who receive preferential treatment in regard to leave, etc. I have in my mind, in connection with the postal service, the mechanical staff, who are highly technical men, but who have been classed as a lower grade. There seems to be a tendency rather to regard the artisan in the service as being inferior to other classes, though these men render important and indispensable services to the State. I would also like the Minister to give us some idea as to how far the policy is progressing of manufacturing more of our requirements in the country for the postal service. The commission which was appointed by the Government is to report very shortly as far as the railways and harbours are concerned, and I would be glad if the Minister would say whether he is going any further in the policy of manufacturing, as far as possible, in this country the requirements of the postal service.
I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the question of the long hours of night watchmen—84 hours a week. I admit that night watchmen may be supposed not to be occupied in a very active way, but it seems to me that an 84 hours week is excessive. This has gone on for a long time and the hope has been expressed to these men that some means would be found to give them shorter hours, or some quid pro quo. I do not know whether it could be made up to them in regard to leave, for instance, annual leave of some kind. I am speaking now entirely for night watchmen in Pretoria. It may be that there are others in the Union who work these long hours. I trust that something will be done to make up to these men—compensation for what, they think, is taking undue advantage of them.
I am not satisfied with the answer of the hon. Minister to my question in connection with the Johannesburg post office. The post office there was built 30 years ago while Johannesburg was still practically a mining camp. I understand that the Government have bought ground there for £30,000 for the extension of the post office. Is it fair that the town council of Johannesburg should have to provide the ground? And this applies not only with regard to the post office but to all buildings. The whole population of Johannesburg will be dissatisfied with the Minister’s answer.
I want to refer the Minister to a small matter of local interest, namely, the position of the postmaster at Doornkraal, in the Klip River division, Natal. The Minister promised to look into this matter last session with a view to adequately remunerating the officer concerned. The postmaster has been performing his duties for some years past practically gratis. True, he brings the mails from Ladysmith to Doornkraal twice a week, for which he receives £2 a month. But in addition to that he carries out the duties of postmaster and distributor of stamps, which is a position of responsibility. He is not prepared to continue unless adequately remunerated. I have recently received a letter from him to that effect, and unless something can be done he will refuse to continue. This small post office is a great boon to the residents in that locality, and it would be a great inconvenience to them if it were closed. I would like to ask the Minister again if he will look into this matter and see if something cannot be done for this officer. I have no doubt that unless something is done he will refuse to continue, and I do not know anyone in the locality with the necessary buildings who could perform these duties. I would like to say a word with regard to the extension of the telephone system in country districts. The work in my constituency has been well and expeditiously done, and the facilities provided are considerable. I am pleased to say I have no complaints whatever, and as a matter of fact the people in my constituency are very highly satisfied with the facilities provided in the last 12 months. I hope the Minister will continue his policy of telephone extension, because it is a great boon to people living in the country districts.
I would like to ask the Minister what system is involved in debiting and crediting premises occupied by postal officials and which are practically owned and controlled by the public works board. I would like to ask if there is any hope of a definite, proper system being brought into operation.
With regard to the points raised by the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Snow) I have already said I am going into the question of men injured on duty. I shall also go into the question of the leave regulations myself. With regard to what has been said by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander), if we can improve on past shortcomings, we will do our best.
We appreciate what you are doing but we would like you to do a little more.
With regard to the Johannesburg post office, the position is quite simple. The present post office is too small for postal requirements; that position is accepted. We were contemplating putting up a new post office; we were asked by the Johannesburg Town Council if we would do so. I said—
Surely, that is fair. They could not agree as to the site.
They have not got it.
I put up another alternative. The Government have a site down where the court house is; but the town council said, no, they did not want the post office there; they wanted it where it was. There was another alternative. I asked what would be the cost of buying up the Standard Buildings, which are behind the post office, for the purpose of extending or of building a new office. I have received an intimation, though not officially, that it was going to cost a pretty hefty sum. If the Government have to build a new post office, which is going to cost £240,000, surely you do not expect us to pay another £200,000 to buy another property next door? It is not business. We will give Johannesburg a fair and square deal, but we want them to give us a fair and square deal in return. In the middle of these negotiations arose the question of the new railway station which has been promised for sometime. A proposal was made that we should build adjacent to this a two or three-storied building where we could do our letter sorting work and our mails, and this would relieve the staff at the central office, and would give us ample room in the present offices for the telegraphic and counter work. That is rather a good suggestion, and it is being explored. As regards the point raised by the hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay) in the matter of night duty, these watchmen work the ordinary hours of 6 to 6. I am doing what I can, instead of making them work seven days a week, to give them a Sunday off, or a day off, more frequently in order to counteract these long hours. I realize you cannot keep them working seven hours a day for seven days a week, even though they are watchmen and then work is not hard. With regard to the point raised by the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce), the public works department pays all the rent for the post offices and all the light and other things; but what I am doing now is to have a committee composed of the treasury officials and men from the post office, working to draw up a balance sheet which will show against the postal department, expenditure in respect of interest on capital money, lighting, rates, and rent, which are paid through the public works department. This committee is working; and naturally the treasury want to set off far more as a liability against the post office than the post office is willing to have. The post office on the other hand, are setting off against the Government a lot of services which they render free. For instance, the ocean-mail service from a strictly postal point of view is not worth nearly a quarter-of-a-million to the post office. Take the stamps for instance. We supply free postage to Government departments. If a department wants to use the railways, they are debited with the use of the railway; but if they send letters—and this costs the post office about £160,000 a year, postage for Government departments generally—the departments get it free. They pay for telephones and telegraphs now. That was done under the regime of my hon. friend. I am trying to get a balance sheet prepared, showing the legitimate cost of working the post office, including interest charges and everything else, and what is our revenue, so that we will know exactly where we are. Any balance will be used to reduce postal rates and to help things generally. We want to see the post office pay for everything it gets, and to use its revenue to the best advantage, and the Government has agreed to that principle. It is now just a question of details, which are at present being worked out.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 32, “Public Works”, £780,655,
The Minister has been good enough to promise to go over the art gallery, but so far no start has been made.
We have not got the Loan Vote through.
Then I should like to know when a start is going to be made with the old Supreme Court building.
I wish to draw the Minister’s attention to item (d) on the schedule —rates. There is an item down there, grant-in-aid to Pretoria, £13,500. There is a great deal of misapprehension in this House as to why Pretoria should be specially treated by getting this grant-in-aid, whilst, as a matter of fact, the contrary is the case, for instead of getting that amount Pretoria ought to be getting about £60,000. From 1904-5 up to the time of Union the Government properties in Pretoria were rated in the same manner as private properties, that is to say, the rates on Government properties were the same as those paid by private citizens. At the time of Union, the Government were anxious to institute some uniform system of rating Government properties, and instead of paying the rates, they paid a lump sum of £13,500 per annum, and that amount has been contributed ever since. The Pretoria municipality and other municipalities in the Transvaal, as well as the United Municipal Association, have protested against this system and have approached the Government on several occasions, and the Government has stated that they were introducing legislation, but so far nothing has been done, with the result that to-day, if the Government paid at the same rate as the citizens of Pretoria, they would be paying between £50,000 and £60,000.
£46,000 is the amount.
The Government are continually funking this position. As far back as 1921, they said they were preparing legislation, and I see from the Select Committee on Public Accounts that the Secretary of Public Works stated that legislation was being proceeded with. I hope the Minister will give some indication as to when this will come forward. At Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth, Government pays the same rates as the ordinary property owner.
I would draw the Minister’s attention to item “Advances to fire brigades, £1,300.” It is interesting to notice in regard to the Estimates, the we find when we refer to “details of the foregoing,” there is no further information given than in the item. Surely we are entitled to know in what way an amount is allocated? On what principle is this amount paid? Is it allocated to particular towns or has every town a chance to get it?
In reply to the hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay), the places which get this grant are as follows: Cape Town £420, Johannesburg £300, Pretoria £300, Maritzburg £240. These are legacies from pre-Union days. The Transvaal Government only gave a grant to Pretoria and Johannesburg of £300 each. The Cape only gave a grant to Cape Town of £420 and Natal gave £240 to Maritzburg. All that we have done is to carry on this liability until such time as we can get a re-organization of the rate question, the very question raised by the hon. member for Pretoria East (Mr. Giovanetti), and as soon as we can get a settlement in regard to the amount of rates that should be paid to the various municipalities throughout the country, we will settle this question of the fire brigades and treat all alike. In regard to the point made by the hon. member for Pretoria East, it is true there was a Bill drawn up to try and co-ordinate the whole rate question throughout the country. To-day there is chaos and the position is full of anomalies. I have spent days myself trying to get to the bottom of this thing. Then I got the Secretary for Finance and the Secretary of the Public Works Department and other heads of departments to discuss this question of introducing a Bill, but there were so many difficulties in the way of consolidating the position that we thought it would be better, possibly, if the co-ordinating was done by the provinces and a memorandum has been put to the treasury for consideration as to what lines to go on; what institutions should pay rates, and what should not; and what exemptions should be made in order that uniformity may be arrived at as far as possible. That memorandum was sent to the treasury a few months ago, but the treasury said they could do nothing with it this session.
Will you see that it is attended to during the recess?
Yes. With regard to the question asked by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) as to the old Supreme Court buildings in Cape Town, when we took office last August we had only a month’s session, and I fixed up satisfactory arrangements for widening the top of Adderley Street by the removal of a portion of the front of the old Supreme Court building. Nothing was done, however, because parliamentary approval had to be obtained for the alienation of the land on which the building stood. I dared not give instructions for the pulling down of the front of the building, for that would have been flouting Parliament. The Crown Lands Committee had to pass the alienation of the land; that has been done this session, and there will be no delay as far as that is concerned. I have also asked the Crown Lands Committee to consider the alienation of a small portion of the land at the entrance to Parliament grounds, so that when the old Supreme Court building is set back, the Liber man arch can be built at the foot of the Avenue, and then the top of Adderley Street will be much improved. I have seen the plans and proposed arch, and its erection will be a wonderful improvement. In order to obtain a semi-circle it is necessary to take in a small portion of parliamentary ground. The main arch will be in the centre; a gate will lead to the Avenue, and there will be a gate opening into Parliament grounds. The Cabinet recommended the alienation of the necessary portion of Parliament House grounds, and if we can get the grant through the Crown Lands Committee this session, there is no reason why the scheme should not go ahead as quickly as possible. A sum of money has been placed on the provisional estimates for an art gallery for Cape Town. This matter has been under consideration for the last thirty-five years, and the delay is ridiculous. The old Cape Government should have attended to this, and failing that, then the Botha or Smuts Government should have done it. However, I will do my best to have a sum placed on the loan estimates, and when those estimates come forward it will be time to see whether what I want is included.
I should like some information with regard to the Government garages mentioned on page 174 of the estimates. There are 7 mechanics and 17 chauffeurs employed in the Pretoria garage, 3 mechanics and 9 chauffeurs in the Cape Town garage, and 6 mechanics and 4 chauffeurs at the Johannesburg garage. But there is nothing to show which department benefits by these services.
This vote seems to be at a loose end. Until April 1st last all these garages came under the treasury, but I was informed the other day that, as from April 1st. they came under my department. I have not been officially notified yet of the transference, but any questions that are asked I will try to deal with. These motorcars are used for the post office, the Irrigation Department and Lands Department, and if a Minister wishes to hire a car for official or private purposes he sends for one to a Government garage. If the car is to be employed for private purposes, the Minister pays for it himself. We have a superintendent of garages. I understand the late Government used motor-cars far more than the present Government does.
There are one or two question I would like to put to the Minister, and the first is what is the position in respect of the payment of municipal rates in respect of Government properties. The matter was repeatedly brought to the notice of the late Government. It affects the people of Johannesburg very considerably, and I don’t know whether they have been in communication with the Government on the question.
I dealt with it pretty fully whilst you were out.
There is another question also in regard to rates. There have been a number of cases where the Government has sold property belonging to it, and the purchaser has deferred taking over the transfer with the result that the municipality has suffered. The Government should take immediate steps for the transfer of property so that the municipality need not suffer a moment longer than is necessary. On the question of the rates paid in respect of insurance for Government property, I would like to know whether the Minister has taken into consideration the desirability of being its own insurers in regard to Government property. Shipping companies are doing it and there is no reason why the Government should not do it.
If the hon. member wants the Government to have State insurance, I would like to inform him that we don’t insure our buildings at all. Let me give the House some interesting information on this point. We have property to the value of about £16,000,000 which we do not insure. If we had insured it, we should have paid insurance premiums since Union to the amount of £149,000. As a matter of fact, it has only cost us £32,000. It is a risk the previous Government has always taken, and it is a risk we are now carrying. I dealt fully with the question of the rates of municipalities on Government property. I agree there were a number of houses the Government sold, and which are legally still Government property, but people have been living in them for years, and paying no rates at all, and they should do. If we get the legislation through, I contemplate the matter will be fixed up.
I want to draw the Minister’s attention to the small court-room at Sabi. I am bringing this under letter (N), small works, £60,000, i.e., for works costing less than £1,000. Periodical courts are regularly held at Sabi, and the magistrate comes over and holds the court in the small police office. This is about 12 feet by 15 feet, a very small room. The furniture consists of a counter, a table, a safe and a shelf against the wall, so there is not the least chance for an attorney or for witnesses to have a seat. When the magistrate is there with the official staff and the parties themselves, there is nothing left for witnesses, attorneys, and the public but to stand outside, often in the rain and cold. About £1,400 is received every year from this district in fines, and I think it can naturally be expected that a few hundred pounds should be spent to make better provision for court cases. I think that an expenditure of £300 or £350 will be sufficient to meet all requirements. I should like to ask the Minister to enquire into the matter, and if he finds the conditions as I have stated, of which I do not doubt, that he will then make provision for a proper court room at Sabi.
I understand that certain free services are performed by the municipalities in Natal in connection with post offices. It is probable the municipalities will be deprived of their licence revenues, in which case they may refuse to afford these free services in the future. Has the Minister made provision for such a contingency?
We are all the time getting information with regard to court houses, and a good deal of my time is spent in dealing with these matters. I will put the machinery into motion to find what the need really is and whether we can meet it. We are pressed on all sides for new court houses and we meet it as far as possible in the order of urgency. With regard to the municipalities of Natal refusing certain free services because they are not getting their licences in future, the question of whether the municipalities get their licences or not rests entirely with the provincial council. On the question generally Natal will be considered at the same time as the Transvaal and other provinces, when the co-ordinating legislation is brought forward. I have already dealt with this question, and Natal will be treated the same as other provinces when the legislation is introduced into the House or the provincial council. The Treasury have a memorandum on the subject and intend dealing with the matter.
The Minister will excuse me if I do not find his explanation quite as lucid as he thinks it is. There are several of these motor cars being used which are not classified as other items are. They are lumped together at the end of the estimates. The position. I am told, taking the Cape Town docks, for example, is that they have certain buildings there which they are using—some for chauffeurs, some for assistants, and some for the storage of motor cars. These cars are only used for six months of the year, and yet men down there are left crying out for accommodation. They are deprived of the accommodation which they could have because motor cars are stored there which are only used for six months in the year. I would ask the Minister whether he is going to make provision to have these cars stored elsewhere and whether he can give us some more lucid explanation than he has already given. I would like to ask him what the cars are used for.
I would like to call the attention of the Treasury to this matter. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs has exposed to this House considerable slackness on the part of the Treasury in regard to this. It appears that these motor cars and garages were up to 31st March last under the control of the Treasury. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs has discovered, evidently quite accidentally, that they are now under his control. He has got no official information from the Treasury that they have been handed over to him. I would have thought that the Treasury would have officially intimated to the post office that they had surrendered all control of these garages and cars. Who is in charge?
Who is the superintendent responsible to? Yet, my hon. friend, as the responsible Minister, according to his own words shows that this is rather characteristic of what takes place in some of these offices.
Not a bit of it.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 36, “Irrigation”, £170,133,
I would like to ask the Minister in regard to this vote whether it is his intention during this session to introduce legislation on the lines of the recommendations made by the Irrigation Finance Commission. Legislation of this kind is urgently called for. I trust the Government will give the matter their very careful consideration.
I would like your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I presume as the Minister’s vote comes under “Justice,” we will have an opportunity on that vote in connection with the Minister’s salary of discussing everything connected with the hon. gentleman’s administration. As you will see, under this vote the Minister’s salary does not appear. It appears under “Justice.” So I presume under “Justice” members of the committee will have an opportunity of fully discussing the whole of the irrigation position in connection with the Minister’s salary.
That is so.
Is that correct, Mr. Chairman? Are we to pass this vote and then discuss matters in connection with irrigation under the justice vote? That is a new thing to me surely, matters of irrigation should be discussed under the irrigation vote? It seems an absurdity.
Might it not be helpful if the “Justice” vote was taken first? I move—
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, shall we be able to have a complete discussion on irrigation policy when the irrigation vote comes up?
I would also like to ask whether we will be able to discuss irrigation matters in a compartment, or whether they are going to be mixed up with other questions.
I think it would be more convenient to discuss irrigation matters under the Vote on Irrigation. So far as policy is concerned, hon. members would be entitled to discuss it also under that vote, but only ten minute speeches will then be allowed.
May I ask how it is, Mr. Chairman, when we discussed Posts and Telegraphs, you said we might only ask a question. Is it not the same position.
I do not quite understand what the point is.
When I discussed the position as far as telephones were concerned under the Vote, you ruled me out of order, and said I could only ask a question.
I pointed out that, generally, hon. members might discuss the policy of the Government with regard to the Postal and Telegraphic Departments, but there was a Loan Vote under which it would be more convenient to discuss details. As far as policy is concerned, hon. members are entitled to discuss the policy of the Government with regard to irrigation here, and when we come to the Vote of the Minister of Justice to discuss policy there too.
I should like to be quite clear that when we come back to this vote we can discuss everything on irrigation.
I think that is your ruling, Mr. Chairman, except that we will be confined to ten minute speeches.
That is so.
Motion, put and agreed to.
The committee reverted to Votes 14 to 18 standing over.
On Vote 14 “Justice, £75,635,
I fix this figure because I want to differentiate between this motion and the ordinary motion of reduction of £1, where the mover gets up and says he does it in the most friendly spirit of co-operation. I want to launch a definite criticism in regard to several matters in the Minister’s policy, in the spirit of frank and I might even say hostile criticism; because I think his actions are open to serious criticism. When I was addressing the House on the Budget, I took occasion to criticise the actions of the Minister in regard to the wholesale liberation of prisoners from the gaols. The Minister was in Parliament on that occasion but not in the House, and possibly he did not hear my remarks, and they may not have been conveyed to him. At any rate we have not heard from him anything except a couple of replies to questions; there has been no explanation or justification of what I think is an unprecedented action of any Minister of the Crown in any portion of the Dominions, namely the wholesale liberation of prisoners from gaol without rhyme or reason. I am not referring to the release of prisoners on the occasion of the arrival of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
What is the difference?
I will tell you. That was done, and rightly done, to celebrate an unprecedented event in the history of South Africa, and no one could reasonably take exception to that; but knowing that that event was to take place, and knowing that the Minister intended to celebrate that event by the release of prisoners from the gaol, the Minister, two, or was it three months before that, quite unnecessarily, in my opinion, released from prison, 850 persons who were serving for contravention of the liquor laws, and 1,298 who were serving sentences in connection with other offences. The Minister was asked why he did it, and this was his reply—
I cannot understand that last portion of the reply. He lets these prisoners out early in February, or at the end of January, in—
I do not understand that. What is the idea in letting people out in February, to find out whether it would be a good thing to let another lot out in April? I would appreciate it if the Minister would let us know what he means by that portion of the answer. I am gravely concerned at the effects this action, on the part of the Minister of Justice, will have in regard to the future of South Africa—a hasty, ill-considered, ill-advised action. I am going later on to criticize in detail some individual cases in which he effected releases; but I want, first of all, to deal with the question of this general release. We do not want to make a party matter of this, except that I am bound to criticize the Minister responsible; but I would say that the interests of justice are not, and should not be, a party matter; that we should, on all sides of the House, be equally concerned to see that crime is punished and prevented, and if I can show—as I hope to do—that this action was ill-advised; that it will not promote the general well-being of South Africa; that it will lead to increase in crime: then I say it is not a party matter, and I hope hon. members opposite will realize that it should not be made a party matter, and will support me if they agree with my views. If any hon. member looks at the criminal statistics of this country he will be struck by the very grave and serious fact that there has been a uniform increase in the rate of crime for many years. That tendency is still going on. Some of the hon. members opposite seem to hum like a swarm of bees the minute a word of criticism is offered against one of the Ministers. The figures for serious crime in South Africa, so far as Europeans wore concerned, in 1913 were 12 per 10,000: but in 1922—the latest year for which figures are available—the rate had increased to 18 per 10,000. The coloured rate was: 1913, 26 per 10,000, and 1922, 49 per 10,000. I do not care what party a man belongs to. I submit this is a matter for very serious reflection. When I perused the latest report of the Department of Justice, I saw that almost every magisterial area reported a serious increase in crime. Comparing our European crime with the figures for England and Wales, one sees that the crime rate in this country is very much higher than it is in Great Britain. In 1922 the rate of convictions before superior courts in England and Wales was 2 per 10,000, and for crimes of all sorts dealt with by courts of summary jurisdiction the rate was 8 per 10,000. This gives one seriously to think and makes us ask in what direction is South Africa tending in regard to the question of the prevention and the punishment of crime? Do we want to establish a reputation such as America seems to be establishing in regard to crime? Swift and speedy punishment (not necessarily severe punishment) is the best deterrent of crime, and once the impression gets among our criminal classes and our potential criminals, that, if they are convicted of a crime they may hope for a speedy release, then this will have the very gravest effect on our national life. I should be sorry to think that the action of the Minister of Justice has created that impression, but I believe that it has. The Minister of Justice, when he effected the release of the prisoners, took a very grave responsibility. Let me tell hon. members a story of what happened recently in one of the police courts in Johannesburg. The prisoner was brought up, a South African Dutch-speaking prisoner, on a charge of offending against the liquor laws. He could not speak much English, and he was asked what was his nationality. “Nationality,” said the prisoner, “Ja ek is een Nationalist.” “No,” said the magistrate, “Who is your king?” “King?” said the prisoner—
I don’t know whether the Minister of Justice wishes to establish for himself the reputation of being king of the underworld and the hero of the criminal classes. The action he took will certainly add to his popularity with those gentlemen, but I doubt whether it will add to his reputation for statesmanship with the country at large. Once the impression is created in this country that crime is not a serious matter and the criminal may hope not to serve his sentence—and they are light as a whole—and that he may expect a speedy release at the hands of a weak-kneed or benevolent Minister of Justice leading the Cabinet by the nose, then a serious position will arise. I want to give a few facts and figures to show where the tendency not to punish crime adequately has led America to. I was reading an interesting article in an English paper, which said that in a recent address President Coolidge pleaded for a better enforcement of the law and the more universal observation of the Constitution by the American people. He compared the crime record of the United States of America with Great Britain. A survey shows that there were eight times as many murders in proportion to the population of U.S.A. as in England, and five times as many as in France, whilst there is as many times as many burglaries as in Great Britain. The President considered the reason for this was that such crimes were punished in Britain and France, whilst in America the reverse was the case. In New York City there were 333 murders in 1924, which is nearly equal to one per day.
Is that the result of prohibition?
Does the hon. member for Barberton think this funny? The present rate in New York is one murder per day. In seven years 1,909 murders were committed in greater New York, and only 249 murderers were convicted, or one in eight. I am going to show at a later stage that the impression that crime is not and will not be punished is responsible for this alarming growth of crime in U.S.A. I am going to stop as far as possible by every word I can say, a similar position being created in South Africa.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p m.
When the House adjourned I was giving some figures showing the increase of crime in America, an increase which is attributed by President Coolidge to the fact that crimes remain unpunished in that country. Let me continue that record. It is stated that—
Let us take a comparison between America, where crime is unpunished, and England, where crime is punished. In London last year there were 27 murders, ten murderers were sentenced to death, one died in prison, four were found insane, ten died by suicide before arrest and two murders were unpunished. The average time which elapsed from the time of the murders being committed to the date of the execution was 91 days. In 1923 there was not a single unsolved or unpunished murder in London. The inference to be drawn from that is that if you do not detect and punish crime—I do not say punish it with unnecessarily severe penalties, but let the punishment follow the crime immediately, and let it be carried out—if you do not do that, you will lead this country in the direction in which America has been going. Let me give one further extract to drive home to the point I am making. It is from “Problems of Modern American Crime,” by Veronica King—
I take it that it is a great comfort to a large number of the criminal population of South Africa to know that they have the present Minister of Justice at the head of affairs in South Africa, and to know that, if they are convicted and punished for crime, that punishment will probably not be carried into effect. I say that a great responsibility was taken upon himself by the Minister of Justice when he effected that release early in February last. I have dealt with the general release of prisoners effected by the Minister, but I contend that he has effected the release of prisoners in at least two cases in which his action is open to the gravest question and the most serious criticism. I have already referred to those two cases, and the Minister has not said a word in justification of his action. The first case was the Barkly West case, where five persons were convicted of offences against the electoral law. Four of them were found guilty of impersonation at the last general election, and were sentenced to one month’s imprisonment, and one man was found guilty of double voting and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. I do not know on, which side these gentlemen voted, but I can hazard a shrewd guess. I do know that all these men were guilty of a fundamental offence against the electoral law. They were released by the Minister of Justice very shortly after their sentences commenced to run. I ask again, what is the use of the Ministry trying to put laws on the statute book to promote greater purity in elections, laws which go to a fantastic length in the opinion of some of us, if fundamental crimes against the purity of elections are to be treated like this? The other case is the van der Merwe case. If ever a Minister made a complete and egregious faux pas it was when the Minister of Justice gave has reasons for the release of van der Merwe. I have here his reply to the question which was asked in regard to this release. It will be remembered that van der Merwe was convicted on the charge under the insolvency law of not keeping proper books. He should have been convicted, in the opinion of the judge, on several other counts. The judge who convicted was one of the oldest and certainly one of the most experienced judges in South Africa, namely, the judge-president of the Cape Province, Sir Malcolm Searle. After taking all the circumstances into account, he sentenced him to a term of two months’ imprisonment. It was a very bad insolvency case; it reeked with fraud; but he had powerful and influential friends on the side of the House opposite me.
Who influenced the jury?
I am talking about the release of van der Merwe after he had had an exceedingly light sentence of two months’ imprisonment. This is the reason the Minister gave for that release—
I have to take it from those cheers that whenever we pass any statutes in this country imposing obligations on anyone with penalty attached to non-observance you are to put in a saving clause—
That is in effect what the Minister has said. Let me remind the committee that the law does not expect farmers to keep the same books as the trader. A person is only convicted under the section if he has failed to keep books such as he might reasonably have been expected to keep, regard being had to the nature of his avocation. It seems, however, that he has only got to be a farmer and he is released from all the penal consequences of the insolvency law in regard to keeping books. We having put on the statute book an insolvency law applying to the whole community, and having put in sufficient safeguards to any section, what right has the Minister to give an answer to this House which tells the farmers they are absolved from the consequences of their dread of that law?
I have the right under the law.
The Minister has no right under the law. He has a right in individual cases to say—
But he has no right to say—
I am sorry to see the Minister has so little regard for the law; he should be the fountain head of justice in this country; he should be the main pillar of the law. This van der Merwe case was a disgraceful episode. We know the quarter from which the influence came, and I think the Minister has reason to be ashamed of the part he took in this particular transaction. I want now to bring another count in my indictment against the Minister in regard to his vote. I read with the greatest interest the speech the Minister made on the occasion of his recent visit to Robertson. I want to invite him to explain a particular passage in that speech. I have noticed that in proportion as his distance away from this House increases, so does his irresponsibility increase. He makes statements at country meetings which he would never dare to make here. I am going to invite him, with the Prime Minister sitting beside him, to repeat what he said on that particular occasion. This is the report—
I am waiting to hear “hear, hear” from the Labour party.
Now you have got them.
If they can say “hear, hear” to that pernicious doctrine, they are a bigger lot of political Mbongos than I took them for. Because I say that nothing more disgraceful than that has ever been stated from a public platform in South Africa. There is only one member of the Labour party in this House who is Afrikander born.
But our children are born here.
The two members of the Labour party in the cabinet are neither Afrikander born. A number of members in this House are not Afrikander born. I am glad to see the Prime Minister here, as I want to remind him of what he said on this question in the House. Speaking on the momentous question of secession, and making a prepared speech he said—
Is the hon. member discussing secession?
I think the hon. member had better confine his remarks to the Minister in charge of this vote.
I assume that the Minister is going to carry this policy out in regard to appointments in his department, and I must take the earliest opportunity of arresting that if I think it wrong.
Are you speaking for the party?
There are a number of hon. members who say “hear, hear.” Do they subscribe to this doctrine that a man may come and settle in South Africa and then be told that he will always be in a position of a political helot; he will always have to submit to this position that he cannot rise beyond a certain height because he is not Afrikander born. I say that this is the “top-dog” doctrine in its worst form and while we have the Prime Minister inveighing against any doctrine like that, we find it carried here by the Minister of Justice to its utmost extreme. It is narrow, insular, and a discredit to the person who uttered it. I ask the Minister of Justice if he is of opinion that I, because I have not been born in this country, but came here as a youngster and have known no other home, and have married into a South African family ….
Your children are South African born.
I am speaking of myself. Does the hon. member for Bethlehem (Mr. J. H. Brand Wessels) subscribe to this doctrine, that because I was not born here I have no hope of rising to the highest positions, even if my character and ability should warrant it. I want to know where we stand. Hon. members opposite have all said “hear, hear,” but now they are beginning to quibble. Am I to tell my constituents that if they do not happen to be born in South Africa they may never hope to rise to a high position in this country? If so, I say it is a damnable and pernicious doctrine. If the Minister preaches against “uitlanderism” I am with him. But are we to say that to anyone who comes here from England or anywhere else to make South Africa his home that they will be treated as outsiders” I say to the Minister of Justice, that speeches like his do more to promote a spirit of uitlanderism than anything else that could be said; because if we are told, as we are in this speech, “you are a ‘stranger in the House,’ you can come here and make your living, but you cannot become one of us and rise to the highest positions.” I say we are classed as “uitlanders” and do not wonder if we behave as such. I should like to know from the Prime Minister, if the statement of the Minister of Justice is to be accepted, where we stand, and whether the Pact has set out to institute a new form of “top-dogism” in this country. Another thing he said at Robertson, with which I must join issue in the strongest terms was this—
The rubbishy Bill of the Minister of the Interior—
I still agree with all that.
For a Minister of Justice to say that if anyone of the 135 members of this House introduces, as a private member, a local option bill, he will wash his hands like Pontius Pilate, of any responsibility for improving the liquor legislation in this manner, is a cowardly and wrong attitude to adopt.
The hon. member must not use that word.
I withdraw. I say it is weak-kneed, and a wholly indefensible attitude to adopt. If I said what I thought. I should be asked to withdraw again. The second important point in the Minister’s speech is this. He says that so long as Gen. Hertzog in Prime Minister there need be no fear of any local option bill becoming law. I should have thought that local option was a non-party matter. [Time expired.]
Is the Minister not going to reply?
Oh, yes, I am going to reply.
Mr. Chairman, may I go on?
In his speech during the election the Minister of Justice was very great on the overhauling of the public service. The inference was that he was going to reduce it and that the surplus would be transferred to the Department of Labour. That was stated publicly. I have gone carefully through the votes of the Minister of Justice, and find that, far from there being any reduction, there is an increase of £21,000 odd pounds.
These are the ordinary increments on salaries.
Where is the economy the hon. member spoke about? These statements are all right on the platform. If I had seen any traces of economy I would have stood up and congratulated the Minister. I congratulated the Minister of Defence. As far as I can see, he is the only Minister who has systematically tried to economize in the whole Ministry. He has been a better friend to the Treasury than the treasurer himself. Then it was also stated last session, and on public platforms, that there was going to be an examination into the way in which the Imperial Cold Storage Co. became possessed of large tracts of land in South-West Africa. We have heard nothing about that. As far as my information goes they bought it in the ordinary way. The Minister has been in office now sufficiently long to have made an investigation, and I have not the remotest shadow of doubt, had anything been found to be wrong, it would have been published long since. There was absolutely nothing wrong in the transaction. No less than £800 has been spent by the Government in looking into the affairs of the Imperial Cold Storage. I ask the Minister if he has found anything wrong, or if he has been able to deprive the Imperial Cold Storage of those lands they bought. Then I would also like to ask the Minister if he consulted the Minister of the Interior when he made his speech about local option. Regarding local option, the Minister stated he had no time for that “gemors,” and he made that remark, although that Bill had been introduced into the House by his present colleague. I could have understood it, had it come from the hon. member for Ladybrand (Mr. Swart), but, surely, the Minister of the Interior is of more importance. To talk about a measure introduced by a brother Minister as rubbish does not show very much brotherly feeling. I notice his colleague has kept away this evening. I would like to ask the Minister if he consulted his colleague before mentioning this matter.
What about protection and free trade?
I would ask the Minister to be a little more sensible. We remember the Minister promised in his election campaign that we were going to have an iron industry here, but it does not exist yet. We were going to have it at Pretoria, and I suppose the promise served its purpose at election time.
The hon. member must confine himself to the vote.
It is largely these promises—
They will all be carried out in time.
You are very slow, and I have my doubts about your ever carrying them out.
I want to continue in a quieter vein the reproach I was uttering against the Minister of Justice with reference to his comment on local option. I was worked up at the time when I spoke a few minutes ago, and perhaps it is as well I have had a little time to calm down. One feels impelled to say it is a pity the Minister of Justice should make this kind of remark. Those of us who have tried to get a local option Bill through this House for some years know that, although Gen. Smuts was against local option, he gave us a fair run for our money and saw that there was fair play. Our views on local option are shared by members on both sides of the House, and we do not desire it to be made a party question. In making this speech to-night in regard to local option, I am not actuated by any party spirit. But coming from the Minister of Justice, the Minister entrusted with the administration of our liquor laws and our liquor legislation, we cannot allow a speech such as this, made on a public occasion, to pass unchallenged without inviting him to explain on the floor of the House what he means. I admit there are as ardent supporters of local option in the Labour party and the Nationalist party as myself and it should not be made a party question.
You are making it one.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) dares to make that remark. After making a fine speech in this House for local option, he stood on the same public platform as the Minister on the occasion in question and allowed him, unchecked, to make this speech. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) says I am making a party matter of it. What did the Minister say? He said that so long as Gen. Hertzog remained in power you need never fear local option. Was not that clearly the first time in the history of local option that it was made a party question? So far from making it a party question I am protesting against it. Did the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) make a protest against it? Certainly not. It was a grossly unfair thing to do for the Minister of Justice to have made such a speech and to have allowed it to go forth that henceforth the Nationalist party are against local option. It was a great disservice to this country. Whatever he may think of it upon its merits, all we ask of the Minister is that while giving vent to his own personal feelings, he also gives us a fair field and no favour, but to say to me or to anybody else, if you try to introduce a local option Bill—
and I will not try to introduce my new liquor legislation,—well, that is an unmanly attitude for the Minister to take up and will, I think, meet with the disapprobation of every fair-minded man in the House. I do not know whether this is a piece of post-prandial oratory or whether it represents his considered policy; if he is prepared to don the white sheet of repentance and say it was only the effect of a good dinner no more need be heard of it, but if he tells us that what he said at Robertson regarding the introduction of a liquor Bill was what he meant I will leave his reputation to this committee.
I would like to draw attention to a matter affecting the liquor licensing courts. A police officer goes round by himself in his capacity as District Liquor Officer and inspects the various premises to which licences are granted or for which licences are to be applied for, and makes his recommendations to the court. It is a very arbitrary power to put into the hands of a non-technical person, for these police officers are not technically fitted by training or experience to be able to report fairly on the premises whether they meet requirements of suitable accommodation and of the local authorities in matters of health bye-laws and so on. These inspections might well be made in collaboration with representatives of the Town Engineer’s and Public Health Departments of the municipality in which the premises arc located. Reports should then be drawn up jointly and placed before the licensing court; either inspecting party having the right to append a minority report. That would be much fairer. It frequently happens now that lessees of premises erected in recent years, who have complied with all stipulated requirements of the police and local authorities, are at each succeeding inspection by a police officer compelled to go to great and unnecessary expense to retain their licences. There have been cases of injustice and persecution under the present system which is very unsatisfactory.
Perhaps it would be well if I cleared away some of the issues that have been raised at once. The Opposition does not seem to get into its stride, but it may be able to do so when some of the debris has been cleared. I do not wish to deny for a single moment the statement that I am weak-kneed. I, perhaps, do suffer from too much leniency and mildness, especially in the way I treat the South African party. I must apologize to them if I am showing too much of that attribute, and I hope in future I will amend. In regard to the speech I made at Robertson, hon. members have only had a synopsis of that speech. My meaning was this: That the ideal for the future must be that South Africans born must hold the principal posts in the State service, in exactly the same way as Englishmen born are holding the principal posts in England, and Australian born are holding the principal posts in Australia. I am speaking not only of those born in this country, but of children born in South Africa of English, Canadian or Australian parents whose heritage is South Africa, and who will enter upon their heritage if I have any power to mould the future. I don’t want to retract from that position to the slightest extent, but the men living in South Africa have an equal opportunity with the men born in this country, but as far as the new men are concerned these new men should—other things being equal—give place in the State service to men born in South Africa. That is practically the law on the statute book. It is the law of self preservation in every other country. No other country welcomes people from other countries to hold its principal posts. We don’t send South Africans to Australia or Canada or to any of the other dominions or countries of the world to hold important posts. I did say this: That, after all, men born in South Africa should have the primary right here. Surely no one in this House is going to be so short-sighted as to contest that doctrine for a single moment. No man is going to think so lightly of his position as a South African as to contest the position which is a natural part of your nationalist doctrine in any part of the world. The country is first for the people of the country and secondly for the people from other parts of the world. The latter, who have made their money in South Africa, need not complain—they have done extremely well in South Africa. But I am only speaking of the posts under the State. If anybody quarrels with that maxim, I regret it very much indeed, but I am not for a single moment going to depart from it, or to minimize it. As to the local option matter, what I said at Robertson is fairly clear from the report. We cannot have a waste of time every session disturbing the relations with different sections of the drink traffic and making it very difficult for the trade as a whole to carry on business. We cannot allow that to take place on the one hand and on the other hand to introduce liquor legislation which is going to place burdens on the shoulders of the liquor trade. If we are going to disturb from year to year the farming industry, which is concerned with the products of the trade, and the liquor industry which has to do with their disposal, and make it very difficult indeed to see in what way the trade is going to be carried on, it would be unfair and unjust for any Government to introduce legislation of a far-reaching nature casting large burdens on the liquor trade. I intend to introduce legislation of a far-reaching nature next session, but if we find that the time of this House is, I say it advisedly, wasted on discussion on local option, if nothing is done to improve the position of this trade, I cannot go and place burdens upon the shoulders of this trade, which I must do, if I want to try and ameliorate the conditions under which we are suffering on account of the drink traffic to-day.
A perfectly amazing doctrine.
It may be an amazing doctrine, but after all we are not only concerned with those who wish to destroy the drink traffic, we are also concerned with those who are carrying on an entirely legitimate business in South Africa. We cannot deal with that legitimate business by placing it in doubt from year to year, and then at the same time, place burdens upon that business and make it do as little harm as possible, and do as much good as possible. I do not want to say any more on that point because, after all, it is rather a side issue. I may just refer to the question of the liquor licensing in courts, and inspections made by the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen). I think the licensing courts and matters of that kind should also be dealt with in consolidating legislation to be introduced next session, but in the meantime, I will consider the points raised by the hon. member. I now come to the main part of the speech of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell). He enunciated some extraordinary doctrine that what prevents crime is the prompt detection, immediate punishment and severe punishment—
I did not say severe.
Immediate punishment, and no speedy release. I may point out that if that is a deterrent to crime, and if the last Government carried out that policy, it is an extraordinary thing that crime increased from year to year, as my hon. friend showed. If the last Government did not do that—
Your remedy is to let all the prisoners out.
I say it is perfectly clear that as far as the policy of the past is concerned, it has neither prevented nor has it reduced crime in South Africa. The reason for increasing criminality in South Africa is not to be found in the laxity of your gaol system, or the fact that people may be easily released. The reasons are very much deeper than those. I do not for a single moment wish to philosophize as to what those reasons are. I think you will find that they are more along the lines of unemployment, along the lines of the people in this country not having been trained in proper habits and industry, to a large extent occasioned by the presence of a native population in South Africa, but to a large extent by the Church losing its moral influence over a large section of the people, and that section of the people not being sufficiently educated so as to provide some check to take the place of the religious check of the churches. It is along lines of that kind that you may find the true reason for increasing criminality in South Africa, and you may perhaps comprehend the whole of that under the slogan that there is too much of a lack of discipline in South Africa, and a lack of industry in South Africa, and also that the revenues of employment to people in this country are largely closed. A large proportion of your people in any country must work for others. We have gone rather on the lines of people working for themselves. But we must open our eyes to the fact that a large part of our population are not able to work for themselves, and if work is not given to them by others they are not able to make their own way in this world, and they do drift into criminality. Then war, droughts and troubles of that kind have thrown a large population into the towns, which is not suited to town life, people that cannot make a living in the towns, and they have drifted to an easier way of making a living by liquor selling and things of that kind. All these things, to prevent that drift, to send them back to places where these people can make a living, to take hold of your population and make them work if they won’t work—to do all these things takes time, and it is only by those means that you are going to make your criminality less in South Africa. You are told to make your gaols as uncomfortable as possible, and to punish people as much as possible, and to send them to gaol when they are punished. I think that trend of thought is entirely removed from the trend of thought as far as modern conditions are concerned. There is another point which I might refer to in passing, and a point which has given us a great deal of trouble. If you take our gaols before the 30th April last, you will find that 62 per cent. of people confined in gaol were there under sentences of less than one month. Perhaps my hon. friend will make that one month, three months, because it makes it a greater deterrent. What I am more concerned about is that as far as possible to prevent that stigma of prison life from being associated with a man who is not sentenced to one month. It is not possible to evolve a system of camps and things of that kind, so that you do not bring those men into contact with the men in the gaols? The average of the 3.149 men who were released worked out to 30 days that came off their sentence. Why I am referring to that is because one of the complaints made by the press is that I was releasing a lot of murderers and scoundrels on the people of South Africa, and that they were going to do a lot of harm in the country. In my answer to the question put to me some time ago as to what happened in the case of the much more generous releases in connection with the visit of his Royal Highness. I said I wanted to show that that leniency was not mi solaced. As far as that leniency was concerned. I personally believe it was not misplaced. I think a very small section of that number came back into prison.
Have you got the percentage?
I have not the figures, but I know this, that the newspapers who set out to find examples—and whenever they had an example they blazoned it out in the papers—so far as I can remember they only blazoned three or four examples in South Africa, and I feel certain from the interest taken in the Department of Justice by the newspapers and the Opposition, that if there had been a great proportion someone would have found the figures. I must say, I feel rather flattered at the attention devoted to my department, which was never the case in the past. I trust that that interest will never fail, and that I will always be able to do something to cause it to burn brightly. The curious thing is this. The whole of my hon. friend’s argument is destroyed, when he says that this measure of release was very wrong indeed but that releases from gaols in connection with the visit of the Prince were entirely right. In the case of the last release, something like 8,000 people were released, and a large number of sentences were taken off long term imprisonments. The short sentence persons are not going to be released every year.
How do we know that?
If I feel that leniency is justified I will say at once that I will take exactly the same course. I have been advised by a very prominent member of the C.I.D. that it would be a good thing if the gaols were cleared of first offenders from time to time because that leniency is bound to have good effect.
But first offenders do not get sent to gaol as a rule.
Therefore it seems to me an entirely hypocritical argument to say that the first release was wrong where you took short sentence men, and the second release was perfectly correct, where you took long sentence men and cleared the gaols of people who comparatively, were much more dangerous than the others. I do not say it was wrong to take the second course, I believe the second course was right. I am not putting myself in the self-righteous position that I think I am so much above the man who goes to prison that I must look down upon that man. I prefer to adopt the sentiment—
When you take your criminals, in 99 out of 100 cases they are exactly the same kind of people as those who sit in this House to-night. I will include myself. After all, a large number of men in this House have been in prison. If you consider what their position would be if they were placed in the same position as a large number of these men who are in gaol, then I say it would be a bold man who would claim he was perfectly certain he could walk uprightly in this world and avoid the pitfalls his unfortunate brother has fallen into, because he has not the advantages that he has. It is an entirely wrong belief that the criminal is entirely different from what you are. He is exactly the same type of man as members over there and members over here. Men born of the best English stock and the best Dutch stock in South Africa, have to suffer because they have not gob the advantages that members here have; and I say advisedly if we had the same temptations, the same trials and troubles of a large part of the criminal population of South Africa, we would be very conceited if we could say we could avoid all these pitfalls. It is not necessary to stop making laws. Laws are necessary for the order of society. You cannot allow your society to become disorderly. You cannot take into account that these men have not had the advantages, but you can take them into consideration in the direction of leniency. To say that the only way to punish is by severity is wrong, and I will never subscribe to it. My hon. friend says we are overburdened with laws. There is no doubt that one of our trials is that the more statutes we pass the more crime we must create.
What about the electoral law?
When you pass a single law it is impossible to avoid a sanction in connection with that law. Everybody knows that, I will admit you must carry out the sanction too. I will first deal with the insolvency case of van der Merwe. Does the hon. member know that—as far as I am aware, and I have had something to do with criminal cases in the Transvaal—in not a single case has a farmer been prosecuted in the Transvaal for not keeping a proper record of his books? Does he know that the attorney-generals have come together and have decided not to prosecute farmers for not keeping a record?
What about the Zululand farmers who were sent to prison?
If that case had been brought to my notice I would have recommended release.
Perhaps they voted South African party?
Well, if it depends on the vote I have nothing more to say. I am not going to the extent of saying it is criminal to vote South African party; it is merely foolish. I want to say clearly that no political considerations enter into the administration of justice. If that case had been brought to my notice I should certainly have recommended the release of those farmers who did not keep a record, because it is not the practice in this country for them to do so. If we had prosecuted all who did not keep their books, thousands of farmers would have been sent to prison. We also know that your farmer who goes insolvent very seldom takes anything out of the wreckage of his estate; in practically every case it is an honest insolvency. I would like to know where members of the Opposition are concerned whether members who represent country constituencies endorse the doctrine that farmers should be sent to prison for not keeping a proper record of their affairs. I think it is only fair. After all it does not help me what hon. members, who represent town constituencies, say. They do not know the conditions in the country.
Was van der Merwe’s insolvency an honest one?
I am talking about farmers’ insolvencies. I have no reason to say that van der Merwe’s insolvency was not honest, because he was found “not guilty” of fraudulent insolvency. I have always held the strong opinion that your judge has no right whatever to comment on the jury’s finding as to fact, because your jury is sole judge as to fact. The judge’s duty starts when he has to deal with law, and no judge is doing his duty if he comments on what a jury does, so far as facts are concerned.
Even if the verdict is perverse?
I do not know what a perverse judgment is, but when the jury has to decide on facts, it is their responsibility. The Barkly West case was mentioned, and my hon. friend said he could guess the way in which the votes were cast. I must honestly say I cannot guess. There was no evidence as to the way the votes were cast, but I want to say that, in the cases of impersonation, the men had been on the voters roll before, and they voted on a name on the roll that was their own name. If the name was J. F. they voted in that name, and the evidence in court was that that name was somebody else’s name who claimed to vote on that name. If one reads the evidence, it makes it extremely doubtful whether these men did not honestly believe they were voting in their own name, because they had been on the roll before and had given in their name for registration.
They have the right of appeal.
Yes, but there are a large number of factors which prevent people appealing in certain cases. Not only was it extremely doubtful whether these men were guilty, but the sentences imposed were entirely different from the sentences imposed both in the Transvaal and the Free State. In the Transvaal generally a suspended sentence was given, and where imprisonment was imposed, it was for a term of not more than a month, generally a fortnight. I think the sentences were longer and they served at least as long as they would have served if sentenced in any other part of the country. I have to consider whether sentences in different parts of the Union approximate. Another case was the double voting case at Barkly West, and the man admitted his guilt, and certain evidence was brought to the effect that he was drunk at the time of voting. He served the sentence before release, of about a month.
From the 4th of August to the 3rd of September.
If one compares this sentence with sentences imposed in the Transvaal, which I have had before under my attention, these sentences were more severe than in the Transvaal, where it was generally a fine. I think these were the principal points made and I must say that, apart from the accusation of being weak-kneed, it does worry one, because it is rather different from the criticism I have had to bear in the past, but one always likes a new method of attack from time to time, and I think it makes it more humorous to make the attacks as contradictory as possible. For instance, if one member were to accuse me of being a free trader and another of being a protectionist, and of introducing, under the department of justice, an iron industry in the Transvaal, I am quite certain I should survive. If these attacks are the worst my hon. friends can do, I think I will be just as fortunate as my hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture.
I have listened with very earnest attention to the speech of the hon. Minister of Justice, and I must acknowledge that it is very difficult for me to get up to speak in the House after the eloquence of the hon. Minister. But I nevertheless want it to be known that I think that a large part of the population of South Africa received a shock when the Minister, shortly after he took office, threw open the prison doors without anyone having asked for it. The hon. Minister has mentioned, that members of this House have also been in gaol. Unfortunately, yes, but the people were political offenders, and it is not those sort of gaol birds that he has released. The people asked that those people should be released from gaol. But the Minister, since he came into office, has gone and made friends of one section of the people. Hon. members opposite treat the matter very lightly, but I can assure the Minister—he may believe it or not—and hon. members, that there are many people who feel seriously about the matter, and ask what will happen if there is to be no punishment for criminals. I understand that the Minister wanted to give the people another chance, and that he at the same time wanted to economize. I see he has increased the gaols’ vote by £7,660. and I should like to know where the economy conies in. It seems to me that he does not believe himself, that he does not himself think, that he is going to economize. The Minister has not got the figures of the prisoners who have come back into gaol, but there will be a good few out of the thousands that were released.
We must not commence misrepresenting matters in this House. If we do so here, what will happen outside? It makes me think of the old proverb: “If this happens in the green tree, what will occur in the dry?” I think that there are many more than four. I do not wish to say much about that part of the Minister’s speech which dealt with local option, but I am a little nervous about the Minister’s liquor Bill which he is about to introduce. I agree with the Minister that we should now enact a good liquor law once and for all. But the Minister should know that if he touches the liquor problem the Dutch churches and the English churches all stand together, and they represent a large portion of the population. I want to warn the hon. Minister beforehand in connection with the Bill which he is going to introduce. The Minister has stated that a large part of the population no longer remain under the influence of the church. That is true, but if he is going to give more liberty to the drink traffic then the numbers will increase.
Just the reverse. The Bill will reduce the liberty of the drink traffic.
Yes, we know nothing yet about the Bill. I shall do my best to assist in making the liquor law a good one. I appreciate, along with the Minister, the difficulty of bringing up the same proposals every time regarding local option, but I hope that it is not the intention of the Minister to permit of the sale of liquor to natives in the Transvaal. It seems to me something like that appears from the Minister’s expression, and I just want to warn him that the Transvaal people will in that matter stand together. Then the release of the prisoners. I hope that the Minister will attain his object with his pardon. If we have a Government which does not punish crime, then I am afraid of the future of South Africa.
The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) has been well wiped out by the Minister of Justice, but I would ask him has he ever been to the Government and asked them to release anyone? Does he remember a man who was sent to prison for stealing £5,000, and does he remember asking that this man be set free?
An old man of 72.
An old man of 72 should know better than to steal, and my hon. friend should know better than to make the speech he did against the Minister when he himself was particiepis crimina in one instance and got this man set free.
I suppose you got this from the Minister of Justice? It shows to what a pass things have come if you get something from a Minister and he passes it on to one of his lackeys.
I am not saying anything against my hon. friend getting his friend set free, but he is the last man to say to the Minister of Justice—
I think that disposes of the Hon. gentleman for the time being. He says we are working on American lines in our prisons, but I wish we went in more for American lines, for in America they are dealing with criminals in a very much better manner than we are. At Manhattan Island prison the whole place is being run by the prisoners. The reason they get more criminals in America is not because they are treating them better, but because they are not selling them liquor and the people are going in for doping. Then the hon. member said I should not have sat on the same platform at Robertson with the Minister of Justice. The Minister, to show how non-party we are on this question, said he did not agree with me. The hon. member takes exception to Government posts being given only to South Africans, but we have that in our law.
In our railway law where it says that a man must have lived in the country for three years. We discriminate between the stranger and the man who is born here.
That is as far as the railway is concerned. I was not a party to it—I don’t believe in it.
But your Government passed it, and the hon. member voted for it. As a South African born man, I say the Minister is quite right. The sooner we pin the jobs of South Africa down to men who are born in the country the better. There have been too many foreign adventurers in this country—
Are you going to preach that in the Labour party? Am I a foreign adventurer?
And I have been here forty years.
The point is that if a large number of South Africans went to Australia to-morrow they would not be given the best jobs, and the sooner we get to that the better. Everything being equal, we should give the jobs to South African born men, and I hope that will be done in the future, all things being equal.
You didn’t say that before..
I hope the Government is going to carry out that principle in the future. I am sorry to see the city of Cape Town has gone out of the country to import men from overseas.
For the head of the fire brigade. It has gone to England, and you could find a man in this country equally as good. The more the Minister sticks to that policy the bigger the backing he will get.
Some eighteen months ago, I defended a man named Septimus Edkins. He pleaded not guilty. He was 72 years of age, and at his trial two doctors came and said if he served any lengthy period of imprisonment he would possibly not live. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. In my professional capacity I interviewed the Minister of Justice with regard to that man. It shows the depths to which the Minister has sunk that he found it necessary, in replying to the attack we have made, to impart those facts to one of his political lackeys. It is a disgraceful thing that a member should not be able to interview the Minister in a professional capacity without the fear that the Minister may impart the facts he learns as Minister, to another member in order to supply him with a broken stick with which to hit back. I have not questioned the undoubted Ministerial authority he possesses to make remissions of sentence in certain circumstances, but I have attacked him for general remissions and remissions in two specific cases, the full facts of which I have given. It was unworthy of the hon. member to say that because I pleaded for an old man, an old pioneer of Kimberley and Johannesburg, that I should not get up and criticize the Minister. It was an unworthy thing, and the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) when he puts his head on his pillow to-night, and thinks it over, will realize that he was hitting below the belt. He did a thing he will probably, on reflection, realize was unworthy, and the Minister of Justice in imparting this—
How do you know he did?
Because he was the only man who knew it in the House, and if he did not let him stand up and say so in this House. In doing this he was guilty of the gravest breach of all that is best in our Parliamentary tradition, and I don’t think anyone else would have done it. I have heard the Minister, cynical and bellicose, cold and warm, and to-night, for the first time, I saw him smug. This “Sermon on the Mount” he attempted to preach to us rang particularly false. He tried to put himself on a high moral pinnacle, and said he had great human sympathy which we people lacked, he displayed a great fund of virtuous rectitude. We have the same sympathy as he has, but nothing could be more harmful to the private life of the citizens than to allow the impression to be created that a person can commit a crime with impunity, and can then rely upon an early remission of his sentence, if indeed he is sentenced at all. Speaking with a fairly long practice before the criminal courts of this country, and I think the Minister of Justice will agree, I can say that the judges and the magistrates do not err on the side of severity in sentences. You can leave it to the judges and the magistrates to pass a proper and adequate sentence, and in general there is no reason to doubt the wisdom or the adequacy of the sentences they pass. To suggest, as the Minister has done, that the members of this House—“hon. members” we call each other—are in the same category as the criminals who are sent to gaol is an insult to this House. There is no single member of this House who more persistently flouts it and treats it with contempt than the Minister of Justice. It is cheap sort of talk to suggest that the members of this House are in exactly the same category as the liquor sellers and vagrants and thieves and others who are daily sent to gaol.
I said if you had not the same advantages. It is quite easy to understand that.
Men and women are daily sent to gaol who are in the same position, and have had the same education as the average man in this House. The Minister of Justice then went on to say that a large number of the members of this House had been sent to gaol, but he did not say, as he should have done, that they had been sent to gaol for political offences. Coming to the case of van der Merwe, he has tried to create the impression that the only offence that this man was guilty of was the purely technical offence of not keeping proper books. He did not mention that just prior to insolvency, this man passed a bond to his own brother of £6,000, and that Judge President Sir Malcolm Searle told the jury, who acquitted him, that they were either lacking in intelligence or were dishonest, and in discharging them he said that he would have no further use for them during the rest of the session. What I am concerned about is the pure administration of justice in this country. What are our judges to think when they read this reply of the Minister? [Time expired.]
I had not the slightest intention of speaking until I heard the remarks of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwelly I knew nothing about the hon. member having approached the Minister to get this man released, but as a member of the same profession as the hon. member, I must take great exception on his attacking the Minister on a certain policy when he has asked the Minister to support that policy. When you have defended a man and he has been found guilty”, your functions as a professional man cease. I say it is pure hypocrisy to come here and attack the release of prisoners when you have defended a man and you have asked that that man should be released. The hon. member attacks the Minister of Justice for having released prisoners when he has defended a man and he has gone to the Minister of Justice and said—
The hon. member for Bezuidenhout is no doubt an ambitious man and no doubt he thinks he knows everything, but he does not. He has defended an old man of 72 and he afterwards goes to the Minister and says “You help me where I failed.” If he had had a good case he should have made it to the jury.
He pleaded guilty.
Which makes it worse. I knew that he pleaded guilty. I think the hon. member was right in going to the Minister, I think the Minister was right in releasing this man, but what I cannot understand is the hon. member for Bezuidenhout getting the man to plead guilty and going to the Minister and asking him (the Minister) to release him and then coming to this House and attacking the Minister for releasing others. It is about time that this hypocrisy in this House stopped.
Is the hon. member in order in accusing me of hypocrisy, Mr. Chairman?
The hon. member (Dr. Steyn) is not entitled to use that word.
May I withdraw that? I do not know any other word to take its place. But I will say this, that the whole of the circumstances show that the attack which the hon. member has made on the Minister of Justice is unfair.
I want to bring the debate back to where it originally stood. I do not know whether the Minister’s attention has been drawn to what has been going on in America. It has been found out by careful classification and watching that 40 per cent. of people in prison should never have gone to prison. These people lay down as a plan that those convicted for the first time should not be placed in prison at all but should be placed in houses of detention. I know from my own experience that a large number of persons dealt with as criminals are mentally deficient. In America some time ago an examination was held by medical men and others of 500 criminals. The authorities went into their antecedents and it was found that 90 per cent. of them were children of parents with dissolute habits or mentally deficient. A very sane man once said that the only difference between the man inside the prison and the man outside was the thickness of the wall. In many cases of people in prison their only crime is poverty. Everyone knows that men are regularly sent to prison for leaving their horses unattended and they cannot pay the fine. The question of criminals is very different from the persons who commit offences. I suggest the Minister might direct his attention to what is now going on in America. Reports are being published by authorities who have given their attention to crime. I have pressed this for several years: and three years ago I moved a motion that a select committee be appointed to enquire into this question and that a tribunal should be set up to examine all young persons brought up for the first time to see whether they were mentally deficient. Take a child of sixteen. If it is found by expert examination that it is mentally a child of eight, the authorities should take the matter in hand. I do not know that we have statistics up to date in this country, but we have not facilities to make these great investigations. The Minister has officers in his department to give attention to these matters, and he could take the larger centres of population like America. And if the Minister would take up the idea that persons convicted of offences might be dealt with along these lines, it would be better. The Minister gave us some common sense and it would have been better if he had given us more of that than have tried to score off his opponents. It is a great question and entitled to more consideration than it has had in the House. The two great factors in crime are drink and unemployment, and if you could remove these two factors there would be very little crime indeed. Unemployment has got to be faced and every penny you spend on getting a man employment is doing much to keep him out of prison and put him on the right way. Criminality is inherent in many persons. I remember the case of a man who was put in prison for a paltry offence and but for sympathetic treatment when he came out, might have gone wrong, but he made good afterwards. He was not a criminal, but drink had made him so. We have not in our lower orders here, among the Europeans, the great slum areas which we have in older places, but we see arising among the coloured people a want of discipline and the Minister should take that into consideration and see whether some means cannot be got for dealing with this. The second release of prisoners was quite right, for such consideration should be shown to mark the arrival of the Prince of Wales, but if the Minister had studied the practice elsewhere he would find that the system followed was quite different, the persons released being long sentence prisoners. At every presidential election in America prisoners are released, but care is taken to see that those who enjoy this clemency do not belong to the habitual criminal class.
If there is nothing else we have to be thankful for to the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) there is certainly one thing we owe to him, and that is that for the first time in the history of this Parliament he has drawn a speech from a Minister showing that the Minister realizes the root cause of the trouble. I have been in this Parliament for fifteen years, but never before have I heard a Minister of Justice give expression to the viewpoint the present holder of the portfolio has done. In the past Ministers of Justice have simply looked upon themselves as the automatic vehicle of legal restraint and punishment. The Minister has shown not only that he realizes the underlying cause of criminality, but that he is going to do his best to help to remove that root cause. Every year 18,000 boys leave our schools, but only 50 per cent. of them have any prospect of obtaining employment. My hon. friend said there are no slums to the same extent here as there are in Europe, but I maintain that we have greater slum areas than those existing in European countries, for when you examine this position you cannot separate the white from the coloured. People should examine the conditions existing in District 6, Cape Town, and in other urban areas, and ask themselves whether the conditions under which the people live there are likely to contribute to anything but criminality. The Minister is to be thanked for stating that it is his determination to press for ameliorating conditions by providing employment, and thus to remove the main cause of criminality. Three parts of the drunkenness of the people are due to unemployment. Criminality is not in the main inherent. I believe, from my experience, that inherently the population is law-abiding, and that it is environment, and the circumstances in which they find themselves, that breaks down the love for the law and they become criminals. I want to pay my tribute to the Minister of Justice and to say I am delighted that we are going to see an alteration in the treatment of the population by the Minister of Justice. The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) made a frontal attack on the Government through the Minister of Justice on this question of leniency. In answer to a question he said he was leading the attack for his party. Let us take him up on that. The Minister was wrong in exercising leniency to short-time prisoners. In 1922 the men who took part in the disturbances on the Rand were criminals of the deepest dye, not a mild inoffensive type, but a terrible collection of fellows, the deepest dyed criminals of which the House had ever had cognisance.
You were one of them.
Yes, I was one of them.
When the South African party found the men were determined to stand their trial, and that justice was being proved a farce, issued instructions to the judicial officers to the effect that if these people who were to be tried, would only plead guilty, they were promised they would be let off with a fine of £10. Then their mouthpiece, the hon. member for Bezuidenhout, is accusing the present Minister of Justice of a leniency which in itself is almost criminal, and yet they themselves exercised their influence on the magistrates’ minds in the direction of leniency. Whether they were charged with sedition or high treason, if they came before the court and pleaded guilty, they could get off with a fine of £10. This was done. There was one magistrate, however, who refused to do it, and that was Mr. Evans. I thought at the time he was harsh towards the men, but since, on reflection, I have come to the conclusion that he was an honest man and was not susceptible to the influence of the Minister of Justice in the late regime. I congratulate the Minister on the way he has tackled this problem, and under the present Minister of Justice, I do not think we can go far wrong.
I wish to propose a further reduction of the Minister’s salary by an additional £100, and I move—
I do so for the purpose of drawing the Minister’s attention to the constitution and method of appointment of judges to the Appeal Court of South Africa. Our population in this country is very small and for that purpose we have not got a large circle of lawyers to draw from that they have in densely populated countries. Therefore we should have men on our Bench who are not only trained lawyers so far as law is concerned, but I maintain we should have men of wide experience who know the conditions, the financial and banking arrangements of South Africa. Take for instance the example of Sir Rufus Isaacs, now Lord Reading. Before Lord Reading became a lawyer he was for years a member of the Stock Exchange in London. He went there for the express purpose of making himself acquainted with financial matters pertaining to banking and share-broking and so forth. The result was that he qualified himself as one of the most outstanding personalities in that particular subject. In this country our men have not got the opportunity of acquiring that knowledge, and I think it is up to the Minister of Justice to consider the advisability of making provision in future appointments to the appeal court for the appointment of men who have knowledge of those delicate, complicated and difficult matters like finance, sharebroking and banking. That is one of the reasons why I am in favour of there being an appeal to the privy council in England, because on account of our judges not having the opportunities and not having the experience of these highly complicated matters, judgments have been given in South Africa which have far-reaching effects on the financial credit of South Africa. That is one of the reasons although I disapprove of the principle of the appeal court in an outside country, but in these highly complicated matters I am afraid that it will have to be done. Such important issues are raised in eases in which our judges have not had the opportunity of being trained in these matters that they obviously affect the financial position of South Africa. Our reputation has suffered lately through certain findings which have been arrived at here in the last few months. I want to refer to certain judgments—and I wish to say that I am not referring to the merits of the judgments—but to the effects these judgments have had and to point out how people who are investing money in this country have been frightened away. I want to speak in connection with the Rand fontein judgment. Here is a case of a man like Sir Joseph Robinson who devoted 30 years of his life to the building of the Randfontein—the history of which is almost like a tale from a novel. Randfontein was bought by him in 1887 formerly through a company, and when he worked it for some time they deserted him and he had to carry on the burden himself. But through his tenacity and confidence in the country he has caused to circulate millions of pounds in the West Rand. When he bought Randfontein—and here is the point I want to talk about—he employed a firm of attorneys, van Hulsteyn and Feltham and from the very first day and for thirty years were these men his lawyers and everything he did was done on their advice. The moment he sold this property, however, these same lawyers swerved over to Barnatos and become their lawyers, a most immoral action on the part of any legal firm of standing to my mind. Not only that but when Sir J. B. Robinson took an action against this firm for breach of confidence he was told—
How could the man interdict them when the first notice he got was that this same firm of attorneys handed in sums amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
May I ask the horn member what this has to do with this vote?
I am leading up to the constitution of the appeal court.
The hon. member is not entitled to comment on any judgment.
I say that Sir J. B. Robinson has been the innocent victim of the most unfortunate chain of circumstances in that connection. I must digress a little bit to bring out my point as far as the financial condition of South Africa is concerned. Here we have financiers who are hostile to this Government and we have financers who are friendly to the present Government. The hostile school is a school founded by Rhodes in South Africa. We all know what Rhodes and De Beers did for South Africa.
What has this got to do with the Minister? He is not responsible for Rhodes.
I am coming to my point. It has more to do with it than the liberation of prisoners. The Rhodes’ school of financers is a school which has always been hostile to South Africa. It was founded in the principles of Imperialism and you have not only got the powers of De Beers company but you have also got the powers of the Chartereds—
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, are we to have a discussion or, the financial history of South Africa and on the merits or demerits of two opposing schools of finance?
I must confess I do not see what the last remark of the hon. member has to do with this vote.
Mr. Chairman I am leading up to my point. I want to show you how frightened men are to invest money in this country to-day through the financiers who are hostile to South Africa. I am proving that it is necessary that in our appeal court we should have men who have not only legal knowledge but a large experience in financial matters and I am trying to prove it by showing you what a class of financiers we have in South Africa. This Rhodes gang, for instance, has always been hostile to South Africa. Rhodes used De Beers and Chartered Company—
This has really nothing to do with the Minister of Justice.
I am trying to explain to the House that you have in this country a menace to the country and of showing how necessary it is that the judges of the appeal court should have financial experience and not only legal experience. I say again that the school who represented Rhodes who have existed in Sir Lionel Phillips, and your Baileys and your Solly Joels—
I have told the hon. member twice not to pursue that point. This has nothing to do with this vote.
I only wanted to prove my point. These men are hostile to this country, and these financiers have looked at everything that has happened in South Africa to do harm to South Africa. Your judges should have knowledge of these findings in the past history of South Africa. Take men like Sir J. B. Robinson. Unlike Rhodes, Sir J. B. Robinson is a son of South Africa. He was born here and spent his life in South Africa. He was reared and brought up amongst the Dutch and his whole interests were quite different from those of Rhodes and his gang. I want to show that the judges who are serving in the appeal courts should know these facts.
On a point of order. What has this Rhodes gang got to do with the vote? I appeal to the hon. member to keep to the vote.
It appears to me that the hon. member is now referring, if he has not already done so, to a specific case, and is about to reflect on a certain judgment,
I am not reflecting on the merits of judgments at all. I want to bring out that the judges of the appeal courts’ should have knowledge of these things. You take men like Sir J. B. Robinson—
What has Sir J. B. Robinson to do with the qualifications or lack of qualifications of judges of the appeal court?
I want the judges of the appeal court to learn lessons which Sir J. B. Robinson could teach them. I say that your judges of South Africa could learn a lot from men who have the experience and financial knowledge of men like Sir J. B. Robinson. I want to point out that there are two kinds of financiers—one is friendly and the other is hostile to this country. The friendly financiers are those who are supporting Sir J. B. Robinson and the judges should know that too. I say that the judgments that were given in this case were a shock to the—
I thought just now the hon. member was referring to that gentleman. It is now quite clear to me that he is. I must ask him not to pursue that subject any further.
Poor Sir Joseph must go by default.
The hon. member really surprises me. His whole criticism this evening is largely centred against the judges of our Supreme Court.
I don’t think that ought to be carried any further. I have stopped the hon. member for Vrededorp (Dr. Visser). Why attack him after he has obeyed and sat down?
I understood you asked him to sit down because he was discussing the different financiers.
I want to show you what the effect of these judgments has been to the credit of South Africa.
It is quite clear to me the hon. gentleman is reflecting on a certain judgment. If the hon. member does not wish to obey, I must take some other step. Will the hon. member take his seat?
I just wish to say to the hon. Minister that I think we can save a good deal on the police vote. I do not mean on the police—
We are not now on the police. The hon. member can mention it later.
I would like to ask the Minister when the Electoral Amendment Bill is published, that it be printed in its entirety, for unless this is done it will be utterly impossible for the ordinary layman, who has not access to the various Acts of Parliament which this Bill amends, to understand it, unless the sections in the other Acts are also given. I would also like to refer to what the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) said with regard to South African born men in the public service. I think I am correct in saying that in the High Commissioner’s office in London only 8 per cent., of the officials are South African born, whereas in the New Zealand High Commissioner’s office 34 per cent. are New Zealanders born, and in the Australian High Commissioner’s office 47 per cent. are Australian born. In fact, all permanent officials in the Australian High Commissioner’s office are Australian born.
On a point of order, sir, what vote are we discussing—the High Commissioner’s vote or the vote for Justice?
The vote for Justice.
The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) was allowed to make a statement, and I thought I was within my rights in replying.
Can we have your ruling, sir; I want to know if it is in order to discuss the High Commissioner’s office on this vote?
No, not on this vote,
On this point I was quoting figures to prove that a statement made by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) was wrong when criticizing the words used by the Minister of Justice. I was pointing out that we have a duty, not only the Minister of Justice, but the House, must play the game towards the people of South Africa, the duty to see that those born in South Africa get the official posts and to see that every South African should have his South African cut-look broadened by holding positions oversea. I believe the Minister of Justice was correct in making the statement, when taking into consideration that in the past South Africans have not had a proper share in the official appointments overseas. I hope and trust this Government will balance that up. I ask the Minister to also consider the advisability, in the recess, of seeing that before summonses are issued, legitimate time was allowed for the payment of money. I think it is my duty to point this out. There is a firm in Cape Town, Messrs. van Zyl, the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour), and Buissinne, who sent me a letter of demand. I received it at 9 o’clock in the morning; it had to be paid by 12 o’clock; and a summons at 5 p.m., same day, pure persecution.
What has this got to do with this vote?
Don’t stop him, let us hear the story.
You might as well allow me to state the position. On advice I asked for an investigation at my own expense, and it was found it was another person at another house. I being quite innocent. I impress upon the Minister that it is not fair for anyone to have a letter of demand at 9 o’clock, and the summons the same day. I hope he will reframe the regulations and allow a legitimate period between, so as to give persons an opportunity of investigating and proving they do not owe the money.
Will I be allowed then to show that the effect of these judgments is that the Government has lost the opportunity of getting £2,000,000 to develop the East Rand areas?
That has nothing to do with this vote.
*I want to point out to the hon. member for Victoria West (Mr. du Toit) that he can now discuss the general policy of the Government with regard to the police.
I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to some of the laxities in his reformatories. I am not one of those who says a youngster should be punished in the extreme, but I would like to draw attention to the fact that, in some of the reformatories, the youngsters are treated very carefully. Some can be treated kindly and some cannot. I appeal to the Minister to divide these classes, whether white or coloured. At the present moment, you are not punishing the youngsters, you are punishing the warders who are jeered at. They are not allowed to be anything, and quite right, but you do want a man who will be strict and just with these youngsters. You are creating criminals. The class of youngster you can deal with kindly is being spoiled. Immorality is going on in the reformatories according to what I have heard. I plead with the Minister not to make more criminals.
Before you put the amendment I should like the opportunity to say a word about the manner in which the Minister of Justice still stands by the statement he made at Robertson, that, in his position as Minister of the Crown, he is determined to see that all appointments in the public service are given to South African born people.
What did they do in England?
And in Ireland.
Every British subject who comes from one of the British dominions to England has the same chance as any person born in England itself.
I dispute that.
People coming from the dominions to England have held high positions in the legislature of the country. Take Mr. Bonar Law, he became Prime Minister of England. He was born in Nova Scotia.
Not in the civil service
I notice the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs has come in again. I saw him go out with the Minister of the Interior, and I thought it was as a protest against the policy enunciated by their colleague.
I went out for a cup of coffee.
The Minister of the Interior, I thought, went out because he felt so strongly on the strictures that the Minister passed on those people who dared to enunciate the principles of local option in this House or in the country. But I do want on behalf of myself, irrespective of the view of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow)—
Tell us what they do in Ireland, your country. Whom do they appoint there?
Notwithstanding the views of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North), who is all things to all men at different times—
Tell us what they do in Ireland.
And who is a party to the same doctrine, because he stood upon the platform at Robertson when the Minister enunciated the doctrine, and he now, this evening, comes forward with the other hon. member for Bloemfontein to defend him, because we understand that the hon. gentleman is a strong supporter of that section of the left wing of the Cabinet, which does not commend itself entirely to all hon. members who sit on the opposite side of the House. I believe the hon. member was strongly in favour of the attack made by the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) and the hon. member for Marico (Mr. J. J. Pienaar) upon the Minister of Defence and his administration, and I would like to know if that attack was due rather to the policy advocated by the Minister of Justice of saying that all important positions like that of the Minister of Defence should be occupied by people who are Afrikander born. I maintain that that is a very pernicious doctrine; and I say unhesitatingly that I, and other people like me, who have not been born in this country, have just as much right to be here and to occupy any positions for which we are suitable, as the Minister of Justice is. If you are going to develop this country, if you are going to make it a great country with its sparse European population then above everything else the one thing that is necessary—and the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) voiced these sentiments recently—is to increase the European population in South Africa. If you are going to adopt a policy of this sort, is it likely that it is going to be a success if you write at the entrance to the ports, everybody who comes into this country, irrespective of what his qualifications may be, is going to be kept in the inferior position in which the Minister wants to keep him.
It is the case in other countries.
I say unhesitatingly it is a pernicious doctrine. I am sorry to see that my hon. friend who soon will grace a very high administrative position in this country, supports a doctrine of this kind.
I say they are doing it in every other country.
We looked upon him as rather liberal minded, but now we find he is anything but that. How does the Minister reconcile that policy with the two colleagues who sit on that side, who are not Afrikanders in any way whatsoever. They have been placed in this international alliance, and they certainly must resent, finding themselves in the extraordinary juxtaposition in which the Minister has placed them, the sentiments to which he has given expression. Expressions of that sort are not going to do any good in this country; that is perfectly certain.
What about Ireland?
I am talking about South Africa, not Ireland. The hon. member has got into a very awkward position, and all the wriggling which is so characteristic of him will not wriggle him out of the position in which he has placed himself by acting as Mbongo to the Minister. I would like to hear what the Prime Minister has to say on this question. Does the Prime Minister, who has taken two gentlemen into his Cabinet, who were not born in South Africa, believe in the principle of the Minister, that it should be laid down as a principle in this country, that important positions should only be filled by people born in South Africa. I am perfectly certain that although they both sit on the same bench, very often they are as divided as the poles in the opinions which they hold, and I hope that, in this particular case, the Prime Minister entirely disagrees with the Minister of Justice.
I do not know whether the right hon. member is in earnest.
Perfectly. I hope you are.
Yes, I am in earnest, but the right hon. member did not give the House the impression that he was in earnest. His whole manner was anything but that of a man absolutely in earnest and who was honestly and sincerely putting forward what he believed. The right hon. gentleman re-echoed the sentiments of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) and said we hear the same pernicious doctrines. If the right hon. member would go a little further he would find coming from Australia the cry—
Not Australian born.
Yes, Australian born, and there is a very strong sentiment in all the dominions that the most important posts, the administrative posts, should be filled by men who are born and bred in the dominions, and I subscribe whole-heartedly to the doctrine that the important posts in South Africa should be filled by South Africans, with a South African outlook, who are going to push South Africa. I agree with the Minister when he said that that is the ideal to be aimed at. I believe we in South Africa, the people born and bred here, can provide sufficient brain and intellect to run South Africa. If people from overseas make their way in politics, good luck to them; if they wish to join the public service, why should they not learn the two languages?
That is not the question.
That is another red herring that is dragged across the trail. Hon. members opposite, on every possible occasion, seem to be out to try and drive a wedge between the South African who has been born overseas and those born in the country by taunting us on these benches, who were born overseas and have lived the best part of our lives in South Africa, with remaining silent while these “iniquities” are being done. That is part of their stock-in-trade, and the only piece of political capital hon. members opposite possess—this cry of racialism. Hon. members should get away from this and bend all their efforts towards constructive legislation in South Africa. I can assure the hon. members that these things are disgusting every fair-minded Englishman in South Africa.
I think the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) should be somewhat more careful in his expressions. He has accused the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) of not being in earnest, but one thing South Africa will say when the hon. member for Brakpan has been forgotten, that the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort has been in earnest and has done much good for South Africa.
Suspending the Constitution.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) is fond of making personal interruptions, but he must remember that there are others who can also say unpleasant things, and he must be careful they do not use that weapon as against him. Let me remind the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) that passion does not always mean earnestness. He works himself up into a passion and then thinks that what he says must be right. However, he is very far from being right always. There are members on this side of the House who are well able to judge who can run South Africa. We know South Africans are well able to run South Africa, but we have never kept men from Australia outside our South African life. The hon. member should not try to criticize men like the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort, who has done more for South Africa than he ever will do. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) has been taunting us and saying that England did not welcome South Africans. It is a pity he does not visit England. In the very few public offices I went into in England I found that in three of them principal positions were held by men born in South Africa: For example, there are a head in the British Museum, the chief gunnery expert at Portsmouth and the supervisor of night flying—all important positions. The same argument was used in regard to railways, and when I pointed out that two of the highly placed men in our railways were South African born, hon. members were surprised. Some hon. members opposite make loose statements with the object of trying to belittle the good work of the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) and to show that everyone on this side of the House is against South Africans obtaining important positions. That is not so, but we say—
We consider the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) a good South African when he leaves industrial disputes alone; we welcome him.
That is why you deported him.
Deportation, perhaps, has taught him some sense and made him a very much better South African. We welcome that class of men while they behave themselves.
This discussion reminds me of a song in the “Belle of New York —
That seems to be the attitude of the Minister of Justice. He says—
That is a pernicious and illiberal doctrine. The hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) and myself were both born in Australia. We both claim we are South Africans in spirit and feeling, with this difference, that I came as a child and he came as a man. Are we to allow it to go abroad in South Africa that we are to be placed in a position of potential inferiority to people who were born here. I have sufficient pride in my British citizenship not to submit to that.
Where is the stigma?
The stigma is in being told that whatever our abilities, we cannot hold certain positions because we are not born in South Africa. Take my profession. Supposing it were thought that in years to come that I was fit to hold a position on the judicial bench …. Very well, I ask my hon. friend the member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander). He was not born in South Africa. The time may come when he is in the position to occupy a place on the judicial bench. If the doctrine of the Minister of Justice applies he would not be offered the post, however suitable he might be. Does he approve of that doctrine? The hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) is, I believe, the father of a family. Some members of that family may have been born in Australia.
We will take a hypothetical case. However, I will leave the hon. member’s family and come to my own. Some of my brothers were born in South Africa; I and one or two of the elder ones were born in Australia. We came as a family to this country intending to make our home in this country. Apparently the protagonists of this new doctrine would say to my younger brothers: “You can rise to any post you like in the public life of this country”; but I, who was not born here and who happen to be the eldest, may not. Does the Prime Minister subscribe to that doctrine? I want to know if I am to be told in future that, because I was not born in South Africa, however much I may try to become a South African and try to make myself bilingual and identify myself with this country. I can never hope to enter the holy of holies and be regarded as a true South African. I would ask hon. members opposite what is the use of you preaching that we should cultivate a South African spirit if we are to be told—
I am very glad that the hon. member for Bezuidenhout has asked me how far I agree with what the hon. Minister of Justice has said. I hope that when I have told him to what extent I concur that there will then be an end of the idle discussion which has now been going on for three hours. The discussion is idle by reason of the fact that the hon. member for Bezuidenhout quoted the words of the hon. Minister, but immediately went on to put his own construction on them which from A to Z was a misrepresentation of the true meaning that any right thinking person would attach to those words I should like to know whether I am correctly stating what the hon. Minister said namely that he said at Robertson that he hoped the day would come that the sons of South Africa would occupy the high positions in South Africa. Is that right? The hon. member read the words out. In other words the Minister is alleged to have said that he hopes that the day would come when the high positions would be occupied by the sons of the soil. I will at once say that I echo those words, and I think that every properly constituted person will agree with me. I want to bring a few things to the hon. member’s attention. It was only six years ago that every German in England who had been naturalized there and who was in the Government service was taken by the neck and put into a concentration camp or something similar. Why? Was it not because at the bottom of matters when it came to fundamentals—to use the words that is so popular these days with hon. members opposite—if it comes to fundamental requirements then one always gets back when all is said and done to having the most confidence in your own kind. Now I ask the hon. member for Bezuidenhout what there is wrong in that?
That is not what the hon. member said.
His words were that he hoped the time would come when the high posts in the country would be occupied by sons of South Africa.
No, that is not the same.
*The PRIME MINISTER. Tell me then what the Minister did say.
The hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost) objected to it.
I have nothing to do with Pretoria (North) I have to do with the accusation of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell). I say that it is a bit of hypocrisy on their part. It is only a few years back that the hon. member for Bezuidenhout shouted very loudly and voted for it that Germans who were employed in this country in important appointments, simply because they were not born here, should be placed in concentration camps and I believe that even to-day in England they have not yet got a right to naturalization. We know why this is. Because surely something greater is seen in the sons of your own, country than in people who come in here or elsewhere and get naturalized. I am not speaking of individuals but of classes. What sin can be attributed to me them if I say, or any fellow-countryman says, that we hope the day will come when the high offices in our country will be filled by the sons and daughters of our people.
Those are not the words used by the Minister of Justice which were quoted by the hon. member for Bezuiden bout.
I repeat the words which have been read out—
What does this mean except that we hope that the day will come when the high appointments in the country will be filled by the sons and daughters of our people? We have indeed taken up that position in various commissions and recently again in the Railway Service Act which says that sons of the soil shall have the preference over a man who has only recently come here. But what the hon. member for Bezuidenhout is now doing is precisely the same as what has echoed for the past eight or nine years throughout South Africa from the expert in the existence of race hatred. They have no other hold on South Africa, than working and hammering on racial feelings, now on the one side and then on the other, and it is to be this alone that the hon. member for Bezuidenhout has to-day again had recourse in construing words which to anybody in any country would be regarded as quite innocent, and I ask the House whether it is not probably because the hon. member read the word “Afrikander” in it? But then I want to say this that if he does not wish to see the word Afrikander applied to himself—
Certainly, sons of Afrikanders, or sons of those who have been born here. That is “Afrikander born what else? Now it is very clear. Hon. members are struck by a word and if the word is anything out of which they can make party capital then they immediately seize the opportunity. I would just like to ask the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) if that is right. Is it right to always take up something of that kind which means nothing and to use it to make an attack on the Minister, and to accuse him of wanting to bring a chasm between the two races in the land? Let me repeat it again that we must give up the attempts which have been made so long to use the racial stick for hitting each other with. Here in the House it is not so serious, but outside the words fall on ears of people where it may do serious harm and set passions afoot. [Time expired.]
I have listened with interest to the speech of the hon. the Prime Minister and let me tell him at once that we on this side of the House entirely agree with what he has said. The Prime Minister has said that the complaints against the Minister of Justice is that he said that he hoped that in the future the sons of South Africa would fill the positions in the public service. That we fully concur in but that is not the complaint against the Minister of Justice and I am very sorry that the hon. the Prime Minister was not here when the attack took place, because otherwise in the responsible position that he occupies he would not have made the speech that he has just delivered. What is the complaint against the Minister of Justice? That he at Robertson used the words—and he acknowledges that he used them and that it is the policy that the Government is going to apply in the future, namely—
That means that the appointments in the public service in future will only be given to persons born in South Africa.
How can you who were born here object to that?
I do not object to it. If you will give me a little time I will say what my feelings are. I stand here as a Dutch speaking Afrikander and if there is anybody who will support the policy of the Minister of Justice then it is I, but I ask whether it is a fair policy, whether it is in the interests of South Africa. What did the member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost) say just after the Minister of Justice made his speech at the same meeting? This—
If we apply the words of the hon. Minister of Justice to the hon. member for Pretoria (North; (Mr. Oost) then that hon. member dare not fill any post in the public service. I ask the Minister of Justice if it is in the interest of South Africa that such a system should be laid down with reference to the public service? It may flatter the sentiment of a certain portion of the people, namely, the portion to which the Prime Minister and I belong. But I ask whether it will be in the true and eventual interests of the country. There is an hon. member sitting behind me, and there sits the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) who are two capable men of whom South Africa can be proud and according to this doctrine these two hon. members will not be able to be appointed to any Government posts. I have sat here the whole evening and I should be very glad if the hon. Minister of Justice would get up to say if that was not the true meaning of his speech. I wish to repeat that such a system is not in the interests of the country.
He spoke about sons of South Africa.
The Minister did not speak about sons of South Africa but at Robertson he spoke of people who were born in South Africa. He made such a statement as raises racial feeling and we therefore have the fullest right to institute an enquiry in the House into such statements. The Minister has honourably stood by his declaration but we on this side of the House think that that doctrine is not in the interests of the country and that it will not have a good effect on the co-operation between the two races. I hope that the hon. the Prime Minister will institute a thorough enquiry and that he will dissent from the declaration made by the Minister of Justice. [Time expired.]
I am very interested in one way in which the debate has run. I am very glad to see that members of Dutch extraction, born here, are so very concerned about people who have come from outside, and the men who have come from outside are equally concerned about the future of their children in this country. I think more of the unselfishness of the men who have come to this country, and who know that what we are laying down now may bar them from positions in the civil service which they don’t want, but which will give their children a chance in the future. I said clearly you had an abridged report of what I said at Robertson. I may say at once I did not say that I was born in Cape Town and, therefore, people who were born here should have the important posts. I referred to my being born in the Cape to show that I was not a stranger coming among them in the Transvaal. A good many remarks came in between, and afterwards I laid it down in connection with important appointments that I felt it was our ideal in the future that South African born men should fill important posts in this country. What I was referring to obviously were posts in the civil service. I am not referring to judges’ positions so my hon. friend may rest assured he is in no danger whatever.
Oh, I am not worrying.
What is the difference in principle?
I am only defending what I said, and what I laid down does not apply to judges in this country.
Because I did not deal with it. If I say a man can swim in the sea it does not lay down that he can swim in a dam and on dry land.
You’re hedging now.
You have to prove two and two are four to members opposite.
You have to prove two and two are five to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs.
I say again, advisedly, that it should be our ideal in South Africa, and any man in South Africa who has made this country his home should agree with that ideal, because it is going to help his children in the future. As far as the South African party is concerned the future of the children seems to be a funny matter. The hon. member over there pointed out the number of children who are unemployed to-day. Do you want to swell the numbers by importing people from abroad and giving them positions in the civil service? When we laid it down that we want immigrants to fill the vacant spaces in this country, we never meant that you want an immigration policy in tins country to fill up your public service here. I do say this, that in any scheme of immigration we never have in view the fact that those men who immigrate into this country should fill the public posts here.
What about their children?
The first people who should hold important posts are the men born in this country, as an ideal for the future. If you are going to introduce into this country people from outside for the purpose of placing them in the public service, then I declare myself bitterly opposed to any system of immigration into this country. I maintain that your Government posts, the posts that are to be occupied by men who will mould the destinies of this country, these Government posts in the public service should be occupied by the sons of South Africans, born in South Africa. You will always find a smaller proportion of Nationalists than S.A.P. men, because S.A.P. men are very much more successful in getting into posts than Nationalists are, for some reason or other. I think this is the only country in the whole wide world where you will have men born in this country who are against this doctrine. You would not have men born in Canada or born in Australia who would be against this doctrine. The matter of van der Merwe has been brought up again and again. Let me say at once that when in a matter of this kind the jury has found a man guilty, it is quite competent and correct for the judge to pass sentence, but the question of remitting that sentence on the grounds I have laid down is the prerogative of the Government or Executive of this country. The only complaint I have to make in regard to the judge who tried the case is that the remarks which he made reflected upon the jury. I think it is a very short-sighted policy indeed to deal with verdicts of juries in that way. It makes in the long run against the administration of justice, and I personally have always felt very strongly against anything of that kind. If I refer to the remarks of the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown), I suppose I shall be accused of being “smug.” I have been accused of being “cynical” and various other things. I do not know what sort of note I shall have to strike in future. It is perhaps best that I should extend my activities on the platforms in this country. They have assisted us in the past to a certain extent. Even at the risk of being charged, with being smug.” I want to say that it is quite true that a certain amount of mental deficiency also plays a part in crime in this country. We are making a first tentative step, especially in the case of the younger men who come before the courts of this country. We take these steps in connection with the doctors of the mental hospitals. There is the question of expense as to how far we can expand that system. Certainly I think we should have greater inquiry into the mental condition of the young men who come into our prisons in the first instance. I quite agree with the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown), that something more should be done in that direction in the future. Then there is the question of the amount of time in payment of debts. Where the debt is not due by a certain date the court takes into consideration the question of whether there has been reasonable time or not. I do not think it would be necessary to have new regulations, because we cannot deal with this by legislation. The hon. member for Stellenbosch (Mr. J. P. Louw) referred to the laxity in reformatories. He says the boys in the reformatories are not treated strictly enough, that the warders have a lot of trouble, and the boys are not punished. He also refers to the division between the more refractory boys and the less refractory. The idea generally is that, where the offence is not very serious, and where there is a very large chance of reformation, the boys are generally sent to the industrial schools by the magistrates. Where they are more refractory, they are sent to a reformatory. Your reformatory really should have the more refractory type of boy. Everything is done to teach them habits of industry and to enable them to take their place in the ordinary life of the country. We have met with a considerable amount of success in connection with reformatories. I know there are complaints that the boys are too well treated, but I am not certain that the complaints are well-founded. That is a matter into which I have inquired, and I cannot say for certain whether there is sufficient proof of that or not; but, after what the hon. member has said, I will inquire into it further, and see what can be done to remedy that position, if it exists. Our hope is that, owing to habits of industry inculcated into these boys, they will be saved for the future.
I am sorry I cannot accept the invitation to intervene in a debate I have not listened to; I have been absent all the evening. I have risen now because this is my only chance of putting one or two points to the Minister. The first point is that I want the Minister to consider the position of the adult messengers of his department. These messengers draw a very small salary. I am told the salary is limited to £10 a month in Cape Town, Kimberley and all the large cities, and I want to give the Minister a typical case: The circumstances came under my own notice. This man has had 17 years’ service, and has a wife and five children to support, and receives £10 a month. He pays 8s. a month towards his pension; his rent is £4 5s., so that after 17 years’ service he has £5 7s. a month to find food, clothes, medical fees and school books. I shall be glad if the Minister would go into the position of these messengers. £10 a month is too little for a man doing this responsible work. Another point is the very vexed question of trial in cases where the coloured question comes in; where the accused is a European and the complainant a non-European, or vice versa. Some cases have caused a great deal of public clamour, and some times the criticism has been misdirected. Sometimes the sentence seems altogether at variance with the remarks of the judge as to the evidence against accused. I think it is important that the public should have confidence in the administration of justice, and in some of the cases such as I referred to, the confidence of the public has been shaken. The Minister might consider, in such cases, how far it would be wise to adopt the Rhodesian system of having specially selected juries, or else to extend the provisions of the law of 1917, and include such cases for trial before a bench of judges. I am strongly in favour of trial by jury, but I think there is a suspicion in the public mind that in such cases as I have referred to justice is not always done. There was a case recently at Louis Trichardt, where a native, unfortunately, did not demand a trial by a judge. The judge drew attention to the flimsy evidence connecting the accused with the crime, and no doubt the judge, if he had tried the case, would have given the man the benefit of the doubt, but the jury found him guilty, and the judge, although apparently he did not agree with the verdict, imposed a sentence of three years and six lashes. There was some criticism of the judge, unjustly, for the sentence. I think this just shows the necessity for going into the question, and I hope the Minister will do that during the recess.
When the Minister spoke last time, he said that we all welcomed immigration to fill our empty spaces, and went on to say that we want these men to develop our country, but not to compete with our fellow South Africans. I agree that we do not want to import officials to fill positions when there are suitable South Africans available; but as a South African born man, I wish to protest against the doctrine that we welcome men to develop this country and to spend their money and help us with their energy and brains, but if, when they enter the country, they happen to be married men with small children, these children are penalized for ever, and cannot become civil servants and enjoy the benefits of full South Africanism.
Yes, the Minister says—born South Africans.
Some of the finest men and truest South Africans we have had in this country came here as small boys, and I would welcome settlers with children. We have an example here tonight in the person of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell); no one could accuse him of not being a true South African, although he was not born here. I take quite a serious view of the Minister of Justice’s statement. No one can accuse me of being a racialist; I have never acted or spoken as one. I was born in South Africa, and am as good a South African as anyone opposite. If with one hand we pretend to give, and with the other hand we take away, we shall not be playing the game to those who come to this country and make their homes here. I have a son in the navy, but when he was admitted they did not ask him where he was born or whether he was a South African, but only whether he was a British subject. Our citizenship is a Commonwealth citizenship. If the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) had small children with him when he came to this country from Australia he would not have made the speech which he has just made, nor subscribe to the Minister’s doctrine. Not a single member on this side has said or hinted that the Government ought to introduce officials from abroad to the detriment of South Africans, but we say that if a boy or girl comes here and lives here and they become South Africans they should not be differentiated against. All we want to know is whether they are good South Africans; but if the Minister’s doctrine is to be the sort of pettyfogging, narrow-minded and bigoted policy which is to be followed by “South Africans born,” then it will be a compliment not to have been born in South Africa. I regret the whole tone of narrowness and bigotry shown in the speeches from hon. members opposite; and as a South African I protest in the strongest terms against the Minister’s doctrine and those speeches.
The hon. member who has just sat down says there has not been a speech on that side of the House which has evinced a desire that South Africans should not have the jobs. It is more than speech, it is deeds. I would like to quote the case of a specific official in the municipality of Cape Town, which is controlled by the S.A.P., where they are to-day importing a fire-master over the heads of South Africans. These positions should be filled by South Africans. There are prominent men on that side of the House who are in favour of throwing men out of employment in favour of the imported man. I have here a copy of a testimonial given to a man by a business firm in this country who was dismissed although he was thoroughly sober, attentive, active "and a good salesman, because other assistance had been obtained by the London office and was being imported to this country. The hon. member for Cane Town (Harbour) (Maj. van Zyl) made a statement which made me think he referred to an official in England whom he knew was a South African, but I know from my own knowledge that he was not a South African. The hon. member quoted three been. The first was the Director of the British Museum. The director of the British Museum, according to 1925 Whitakers, is Sir Frederick George Kenyon who according to “Who’s Who” was born in London on the 18th September, 1864, that is case 1. Case No. 2 was the instructor of nunnery—
The chief instructor of gunnery at Portsmouth.
Is that one of the chief posts in the British Army?
It is a very important one.
I understand the third case was a man in charge of the air force.
No a man in charge of the life line.
We are getting down a bit when we get to the facts. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) gave a specific case, and I have looked him up, and he is not a South African. He was educated at Windsor. And if the other alleged facts which the hon. member gave are on a par with the facts we are able to prove, it shows how much they are worth.
The hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) has not been listening very carefully to the discussion, and whilst speaking, my mind went to two very distinguished South Africans who have had appointments by the British Government outside this country. One was the late Sir Robert Coryndon, born at Queenstown, who was made Governor of Kenya, and was recognized as one of the most successful governors ever appointed. Has the hon. member ever heard of a gentleman who was associated with me as a private secretary, namely, Mr. Felling, who has been chosen from South Africa to be the general manager and director of the Uganda Railway. I could give many other eases, but I have risen to say that if I understood the Prime Minister aright, I am very much disappointed in the attitude he has taken up this evening. I had thought that the Prime Minister had departed far from the attitude that he took up in 1912, when he looked upon me and others like me as “foreign adventurers” in this country. I gathered from what he has said to-night in support of the Minister of Justice that he takes up the same position. Not alone in regard to the public service did the Minister of Justice speak at Robertson, but he said that far too many appointments had been given to men born elsewhere. I presume that he referred to one of them as that given to the hon. gentleman who sits opposite (the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs), and also to the Minister of Defence. The Minister of Justice proceeded to say that in future every post of importance should be given, not to Africanders, but to Africander-born. Hon. gentlemen opposite say “hear, hear.” and hon. gentlemen on the cross-benches say “hear hear.” That is what we protest against.
Many of the members on that side are not sincere in their protest.
We would be false to ourselves if we were not sincere. You would be false to yourselves if you were not born in this country and you did not aspire to the highest posts. There are members on the crossbenches who are said to aspire to this high office, which is, so it is stated, to be created in the Cabinet. Is not one of those members aspiring to become a Railway Commissioner, although he was not born in this country, and I am told that there are hon. members in this House, not born within the Union of South Africa, who aspire to become administrators of one of the provinces of the Union. I would like the Prime Minister to realize that we who protest in the strongest possible manner against the attitude taken up by the Minister of Justice, are not in any way opposed to young South Africans, whenever possible, getting appointments of this character. What I do want to point out to the Prime Minister is this, that it is most unfair in a young country like this, where our young men have been given opportunities in other portions of the British Empire, that a Minister holding a responsible position, the deputy-leader in this House, like the Minister of Justice, should on a public platform say and here to-night reaffirm the fact that, so far as all public appointments in this country are concerned, they should be given to Afrikanders born. What is to be the future of the children of, I will have to call them “Uitlanders,” in this country? Does my hon. friend, the Prime Minister, intend to allow the Minister of Justice, and to allow the conditions of entrance into the public service to go further than the three years and in the future to say that no further entrants shall be allowed, except they are Afrikander born? It is irrespective of his coming into the country as a small child. He says “Every office of importance should go to the Afrikander born.” If hon. members on the cross benches accept that doctrine, well all I can say is that they have become even more subservient than I expected them to become. I would say to the Prime Minister, I hope that better principles will prevail, and that he, in his responsible position, will see that a doctrine of that sort is not carried out in this country.
I see that my hon. friend wants us all to conciliate nicely. I think the discussion has done much good, not so much because there has been a difference of opinion in the foreground, but because it makes the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) see that they were wrong in their assumption. It was from the commencement based on certain words to which they gave an interpretation that no one with a normal mental capacity would have given to them. They were looking for a political difference. I must say that I am entirely in earnest when I say that I quite concur with the Minister of Justice. But when we talk of the sons of South Africa, then of course it never enters our thoughts to exclude the person who came here as a child. I am proud of being a son of the Free State, but I was not born there.
That is quite another thing.
It is not another thing. I should like to remind the hon. member of what I said in 1912. I just wish to say that I still stand in the same place. I did not say that he was an uitlander. But I then said—and I would say it again to-day in the same circumstances—that sons of the soil would not do such things. The hon. member was one of the persons who in 1902 wished to suspend the constitution of the Cape Colony, and to take away the rights and liberties of the country. I should like to ask him what difference there is between such action and that of a German, if there was such an one, who in 1914 wanted to take away the liberty of the land. It is only a difference of degree and not of kind. I am certain that the hon. member is sorry for what he did, and I then said in 1912 that a person who wanted to do that was not a son of the soil. I am convinced that I have every right to say it. I did not say that he was an uitlander. I regard the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) as an honourable man, and I should like to know from him whether I was wrong in saying that our country was no longer a fatherland to such a person. We have, however, advanced a long way since that time and I am certain that the hon. member would now never again think of such a thing.
You tried to do it a little while ago.
All that I attempted was to recover the freedom of the Transvaal and the Free State and not to break away from the Union. Then I wanted to help the others to improve the constitution for our benefit. It would have been a raising and not a breaking down of status, and purely every son in the fatherland is striving after that.
Is he still an uitlander?
No, I never said that.
Having got the Prime Minister to admit that his colleague did not mean what he said, and all he meant was that he was referring to South Africans in spirit, and having the Prime Minister’s admission that although he was not born in the Free State he considered himself a good Free Stater, I think I have achieved the purpose for which I moved the reduction, and I have no desire to press it.
With leave of the committee, the amendment proposed by Mr. Blackwell withdrawn.
Amendment proposed by Dr. Visser put and negatived.
Vote, as printed, put and agreed to.
On the motion of the Minister of Justice it was agreed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported; House to resume in committee to-morrow.
The House adjourned at