House of Assembly: Vol5 - TUESDAY 7 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
Natives Taxation and Development Bill read a first time; second reading on Thursday.
The MINISTER OF LANDS laid upon the Table—
- (121) Proposed lease of pavilion site at Melkbosch Strand.
- (122) Proposed grant of certain piece of land at corner of Bell and Barrack Streets, Fort Beaufort.
- (123) Proposed grant of school site at Kei River Mouth.
- (124) Proposed allotment out of hand at reduced purchase price of Etterby, Richmond.
- (125) Farm Mona or Lovat, formerly owned by A. F. H. Newton.
- (126) Proposed disposal of portion of Laughing Waters, Willowmore.
- (127) Proposed sale to Wesleyan Methodist Church of 7½ morgen on Quantusi River, Stutterheim.
- (128) Proposed amendment of Parliamentary Resolution relative to portion Mortimer Outspan.
- (129) Proposed sale of Butterworth Drill Hall.
- (130) Proposed sale of agricultural lots on Oakdale Settlement. Riversdale.
- (131) Proposed disposal of certain land for township purposes at Koekenaap, Olifants River, Van Rhynsdorp.
- (132) Proposed grant of certain land on west bank of Kowie River to Port Alfred Municipality.
Papers referred to Select Committee on Crown Lands.
Mr. SPEAKER read a letter from his Excellency the Governor-General as follows—
Sir,—I have to inform you that the Address of the 26th February from the House of Assembly regarding the grant of titles to British subjects domiciled or living in the Union of South Africa or in South-West Africa has been laid before His Majesty the King, who was pleased to receive it very graciously.—I am, sir, your obedient servant,
asked the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government at an early date to bring into operation in the Cis-Kei the Native Council system as provided for in the Native Affairs Act, 1920?
The answer is in the affirmative.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) What were the terms of the engagement of J. Slabberts, the chief locust inspector, at Hopetown;
- (2) when was he engaged;
- (3) what sum has been paid to him since November last;
- (4) what sum is due to him;
- (5) what sum was paid to him as travelling allowance;
- (6) what mileage has he claimed for;
- (7) what has been paid to him, or to one Montgomery, for the hire of his (Montgomery’s) wagon; and
- (8) how many inspectors were appointed for that district?
- (1) District locust officer J. O. Slabberts was appointed at a salary of 20s. per day, plus horse transport allowance of 10s. per day or motor mileage allowance at tariff rates.
- (2) On the 3rd November, 1924.
- (3) £514 6s. 4d.
- (4) £9 0s. 8d., being the balance due for motor mileage allowance.
- (5) £380 6s. 4d.
- (6) 7,762 miles at the rate of 1s. per mile, and 150 miles at the rate of 2d. per mile for carrying an official passenger.
- (7) £403 17s. 2d. has been paid to Montgomery; for 8 wagons—February to April, 1925.
- (8) 1 district locust officer and 24 local locust officers.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to the notice issued by the General Manager of the New Cape Central Railway, Ltd., to the employees of the company reading: “I have received the following cable from London: ‘Please give notice to terminate service of all employees not taken over by the Government.’ As I have not been advised by the Government what employees will be taken over, I have no alternative but to give you notice that your services with this company will not be required after the 31st July, 1925. Please acknowledge receipt on subjoined form.”;
- (2) whether the Minister, before completing negotiations, will safeguard the employees, more particularly by insisting on satisfactory arrangements being made suitably to compensate those who are to lose their positions; and
- (3) whether the Minister will make a statement as to the Government’s policy in regard to the employees of the railway now being taken over?
- (1) My attention has been drawn to the notice referred to by the hon. member.
- (2) and (3) The agreement which is being drawn up in connection with the taking over of the New Cape Central Railway Company provides—
I propose to make a statement regarding the conditions under which the staff of the New Cape Central Railway will be absorbed in the service of the Administration when the agreement with the New Cape Central Railway Company comes before the House for ratification.
Arising out of that reply, may I ask the Minister whether he will give an opportunity at an early date, for a representative deputation of men representing the staff, to interview him.
In reply to that question, I am prepared to do that once Parliament has approved of the agreement, but not before.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours what progress is being made by the Hours of Duty Committee?
The Hours of Duty Committee anticipates that it will complete its work of taking evidence from the staff in the course of the next fortnight, after which it will make preparations for framing its report. The work of the committee is being expedited as much as possible.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours what action the Government proposes taking in response to the request of the delegates of Railways and Harbours Employees’ Union for the putting into practice of the eight-hour day?
The question of applying an eight-hour day to those members of the staff who are working hours in excess of eight per diem or forty-eight per week is being examined by the Hours of Duty Committee, and I would refer the hon. member to my reply to-day to the question asked by the hon. member for Umbilo as to the position of the work of that committee. It would be premature to make any statement until the report of the Hours of Duty Committee has been received and considered.
asked the Minister of Justice:
- (1) Whether the Government is aware that the farmers under the irrigation schemes in various parts of the Union, and particularly those owning property under the large conservation dams on the Great Fish and Sundays Rivers, are greatly perturbed (a) at the fact that no legislation has yet been placed before Parliament constituting a permanent Irrigation Commission recommended in the Irrigation Finance Commission’s report; (b) that many irrigationists under those schemes find great difficulty in paying their water rates and disposing of their surplus land owing to the uncertainty-prevailing as regards the Government’s policy in these matters; (c) that great trouble is caused the Government in collecting irrigation rates and (d) that this will be accentuated when the conservation rates fall due during the next couple of years; and
- (2) whether, seeing that in any case a permanent Irrigation Commission will require about a year for its proper organization, it is the intention of the Government to introduce legislation this session constituting the Commission recommended in the Fourie Commission’s report?
It is doubtful whether legislation will be introduced owing to want of time although the draft bill has been completed and is ready for introduction. In any case however it is hoped to introduce an amendment to the Irrigation Act in the Financial Adjustment Act during this session to give some effect to the recommendation in the last paragraph of the report of the Commission.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) What is the total amount advanced on Loan Account to the Provinces, respectively, to the end of the last financial year, and the balances owing at that date;
- (2) how much approximately is being paid as annual rental for privately-owned buildings used for educational purposes in each of the Provinces;
- (3) whether the Government has any intention of introducing legislation enabling Provinces to borrow on their own credit for essential public works, including educational buildings, roads, bridges, and hospital extensions; or, otherwise, whether the Government is providing sufficient capital to carry out necessary Provincial public works within a reasonable time; and
- (4) what was the amount of Loan Capital offered to Rhodesia for development and public works when it was invited to join the Union?
- (1) (a). £10,046,000; (b), £8,978,984.
- (2) £117,000 (Cape, £35,000; Natal £5,000; Transvaal, £62,000-; O.F.S. £15,000).
- (3) (a) No; (b), Yes.
- (4) £500,000 per annum for 10 years for all development including railway construction and land settlement.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether a large number of railwaymen have a considerable amount of accumulated leave standing to their credit, largely owing to the fact that they were not permitted to enjoy such leave during the Great War; and
- (2) whether the Government is prepared to take into consideration the advisability of allowing these men to capitalize the money value of such accumulated leave to help them in paying arrears under the Railways and Harbours Superannuation Fund Bill?
- (1) A considerable amount of leave accumulated during the war period, but, except in isolated cases, those members of the staff who desire to take leave and make application therefor in the usual way experience no difficulty in obtaining such leave as may be required up to the maximum periods allowed under the regulations.
- (2) The proposal to capitalize the amount of leave due to individual members of the staff has been considered on previous occasions, but there are many objections to the adoption of such a course. Leave is granted for the purpose of rest and recreation. It would create a very invidious position between individual members of the staff were the proposal of the hon. member given effect to, and it would, moreover, defeat the object for which leave is intended.
asked the Minister of Public Works:
- (1) Whether the Departmental Committee on roads has reported;
- (2) when will such report be available; and
- (3) whether it will be laid upon the Table of this House?
- (1) The answer is in the affirmative.
- (2) The report proper will appear in this month’s issue of the South African Journal of Industries. The annexures to the report, with accompanying maps, will be published in the August issue of the journal. Steps are also being taken to have the report printed in bulletin form in both official languages.
- (3) The answer is in the affirmative.
asked the Minister of Defence whether he will lay upon the Table a return showing (a) the names of all officers of the South African Defence Forces who have attended the Royal Staff College course at Camberley since Union, and (b) a record of each officer’s regimental or staff service prior to joining the Staff College?
The return asked for will be laid upon the Table of the House.
The MINISTER OF LABOUR replied to Question X by Mr. Deane, standing over from 16th June.
- (1) Whether he is aware that Miss van der Wagen, who at the time was 19 years old, was taken on as an unpaid learner by Messrs. Sowden & Stoddarts, Pietermaritzburg; if so,
- (2) whether he is aware that the reason why Miss van der Wagen was to draw no wages or salary was because she was over the statutory age for the purposes of apprenticeship;
- (3) whether an inspector of labour informed the manager of Messrs. Sowden & Stoddarts that Miss van der Wagen must either be in receipt of a salary or be dismissed, and whether she was in consequence dismissed; and
- (4) what steps he proposes to take in order to enable persons in a position similar to that of Miss van der Wagen to equip themselves for the purpose of earning a livelihood and to avoid joining the large army of unemployed persons?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) Although under the Act No. 29 of 1918, the status of a woman is considered to be reached on her eighteenth birthday, the reason why Miss van der Wagen was employed without pay was not due to her age, but to repeated requests to the firm by the father to allow his daughter to work there with the object of learning dressmaking without pay.
- (3) Yes; the manager was informed that it was a contravention of law to employ any person who was not in receipt of wages as provided for by the Pietermaritzburg Wages Board as set out in Government Notice No. 1408 of the 27th August, 1924, under Act No. 29 of 1918. As Miss van der Wagen was unsuitable for the work and had not occupied a vacancy in the business, she was discharged and an adjustment of wages made for the two months during which she had been employed.
- (4) The case referred to falls under the law of 1918, the terms of which are still in force.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE replied to Question II by Mr. Nicholls standing over from 23rd June.
With regard to a certain shipload of Cuban sugar, the difference in price, of which upon arrival, as compared with the South African product, was alleged to be 8s. 8d. per 100 lbs.—
- (a) whether the sugar referred to is raw Cuban sugar refined in bond in the United States;
- (b) what is the difference between the home consumption and the export price of the sugar in question;
- (c) whether it is the case that high grade white Natal sugar could be purchased from producers free on rail Durban for 23s., making with transport charges added, 25s. per 100 lbs., delivered in store at Cape ports;
- (d) at what price will American sugar referred to be delivered in store at Cape ports or Cape Town; and
- (e) whether it is the case that American foreign sugar duty is 143 per cent. higher than Union duty less excise and 111 per cent. higher with excise added to duty?
- (a) The invoices in respect of these consignments do not disclose the country of origin. Importers state that the sugar in question was originally raw Cuban unrefined imported into the United States of America for refining. I have, however, no authoritative information on this point.
- (b) The figures obtained officially from New York on the 29th May are as follows: Home consumption value per bag of 100 lbs., 5.55 cents; export price, per bag of 100 lbs., 3.60 cents; difference, 1.95 cents, or 8s. per bag.
- (c) The latest quotation for Natal No. 1 refined is: Per 100 lbs f.o.r. Durban, £1 3s. 6d.; transport to Cape Town, 1s. 6d.; instore charges, 6d.; total, £1 5s. 6d.
- (d) The charges in connection with a recent consignment were as follows: American granulated c.i.f. Cape Town, 17s. 1d; plus duty, wharfage and lading in store, 5s. 1d.; total, £1 2s. 2d.
- (e) The United States customs duty on sugar is based on polariscope tests. The amount of the duty levied in the case of any particular consignment varies in proportion to the number of centrifugals disclosed by the test. It is impossible, therefore, to answer this question categorically in the absence of records of actual shipments of sugar into the United States of America, and, even then, the reply would only hold good in respect of the duty on that particular shipment when compared with duty levied in the Union of South Africa. Shortly, the basis on which duty is levied on sugar entering the United States may be stated as follows:
Sugar imported for refining, and subsequently exported, is allowed a drawback or refund of 99 per cent. of the duty originally paid.
I would like to ask the House to agree to Order No. 1 standing over until after the disposal of No. 2 on the Order Paper. I am sorry to have to ask the House this, but it is in consequence of certain difficulties, and I would be very glad if the House would agree. I move—
Won’t you tell us what the difficulties are?
The Minister has to fulfil certain civil functions.
Motion put and agreed to.
Second Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 6th instant; further consideration of Vote 36 had been ordered to stand over; committee had reverted to Votes 14 to 18 standing over. Vote 14 had been agreed to.]
On Vote 15, “Superior Courts,” £226,710,
There has been some discussion as to the abolition of the Natal High Court.
The Native High Court?
I do not think there is any intention to abolish this court. I think it performs a very useful function and the intention is to allow it to continue.
Could the Minister give us any information as to his intentions in regard to the appellate jurisdiction of the Native High Court? There has been a suggestion that there should be some curtailment of its jurisdiction in matters of appeal from the magistrates’ courts. There is a general feeling that that would be a mistake, in view of the congested state of the Supreme Court (Natal provincial division), and that anything which would cause confusion in the native mind, in relation to the past practice in connection with appeals, would be to the detriment of the present course of litigation amongst natives in Natal. I hope the Minister will be able to give us a reassuring statement on that point.
That could only happen if legislation were introduced. In the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill there was an amendment proposed in that direction, but the Native Affairs Department urged the same difficulties as the hon. member has stated now, and the intention is not to proceed with that change, so if, in the course of the following session, the Bill is introduced, there will be no provision in that direction. It would be best if the same body dealt with all forms of appeal, naturally; but the general feeling in Natal seems to be to allow the court to function as in the past.
I want to ask the Minister whether he will take steps to remedy this defect afterwards: It is the case of a barrister who takes a brief against a client in one case and when he is appointed to the appeal court, sits as a judge bearing on a case in which he has appeared in the first instance. I want him to say whether that is a proper thing to do.
Everything depends on the facts of the case. No barrister would sit as a judge if his previous knowledge of a case would make it impossible for him to deal fairly with the matter when it came before him in a judicial capacity. It is obvious in a large number of cases that a barrister could properly sit and would not be influenced by his prior knowledge. I do not think any danger of the sort mentioned by the hon. member need be apprehended.
It has been obvious for some time past that the hon. member for Vrededorp (Dr. Visser)—with what motive I cannot guess—is trying to carry on a vendetta against the appellate court. In our appellate court we have as fine a body of judges—
I don’t think we ought to pursue this. The hon. member will remember that I ruled it out yesterday.
Very well, only I think some protest should be made against these continuous attempts to drag in an attack on our judges by a side wind, but I will not continue that any further. I should like to ask the Minister of Justice whether he has considered the question of an additional judge for the Transvaal Supreme Court. The state of congestion and overwork will have to be dealt with by the Minister at an early date. I want also to raise a matter of some delicacy, and I will not take it amiss if the Minister does not reply to me. There are a number of judges at present in the Union who are greatly beyond the fixed statutory age limit. I don’t want to mention names, but there is a feeling in the profession that some of these judges have reached an age at which they are no longer able to give real service.
That is an attack on the judges.
Don’t be absurd. I am not attacking any individual judge, but only raising a question of policy. Can the Minister tell us whether some of these judges are to go on indefinitely until they become nonagenarians? Judges appointed since the Act of 1912 may retire at age 65, but must retire at 70, but there are a number of judges appointed before that Act came into force who are still sitting and who are not capable of giving that high and efficient service which we as a State have a right to demand of our judiciary.
Can the Minister tell us how the salaries of our judges compare with those paid by other States, not necessarily British, which have the same population as South Africa has? It is an anomaly that the salaries of our judges remain as they were in 1912, they being the only servants of the State who have not had their emoluments increased. Another anomaly is that one very honourable and excellent member of the appellate court is drawing a bigger salary than the chief-justice. I have heard it stated that the present salaries do not justify an advocate in throwing up his practice to become a judge. As regards the point raised by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) a select committee of the House of Lords sat on this subject about ten years ago. I hope the hon. member is listening.
Yes, I am listening.
These young sparks always look upon age as a deterrent. The House of Lords committee recommended that judges should retire at 75, and stated that judges delivered their best judgments when they were between the ages of 65 and 75, while the literary matter of their judgment was far better during that period than at any other time. From 75 onwards, however, judges deteriorated. Mr. Gladstone is said to have given his finest budget speech after he was 80 years of age. This talk about the retiring of judges must be painful for the judges to read, and I suggest the Minister read this report before coming to a decision.
I want to draw attention to the appeal courts in Bloemfontein. Under the Act of Union a compromise was arrived at. Cape Town was made the legislative capital, Pretoria the administrative capital, and Bloemfontein the judicial capital. That compromise has not been kept. At the present moment we find judges doing their best to get out of this compromise, and Judge de Villiers is the only judge residing in Bloemfontein. The chief-justice and the other judges live in Cape Town and Pretoria, and they have to deliver their judgment after their decisions are arrived at by correspondence or telegram. They ought to live in one town. They are still delivering judgments in Cape Town, and all the judgments ought to be delivered in Bloemfontein. What would Cape Town say if, when Parliament was sitting here, it suddenly went and sat up at Bloemfontein or Pretoria? The Minister of Justice should lay down, say, that the chief-justice should live in Bloemfontein. The late Minister of Justice said that if he remained in power and appointed a new chief-justice he would have to live in Pretoria. If they don’t want to go and live in Bloemfontein it is time we appointed judges who do. The idea always was that the appeal court should be there, that the judges should reside there and deliver their judgment there. If this House decides to have the capital at Pretoria, all right, we know where we stand. I hope the Minister will also fix a term for the appeal court. Judges no sooner get to the appeal court sitting than they want to get away. I suggest it should be a pretty long term so as to give judges a chance.
Is that not a narrow point of view to take? There was nothing ever said about the judges residing there. The law is carried out and the court holds its meetings at Bloemfontein.
And deliver their judgments here.
So long as the judgment is sound and just that is the principal thing. These gentlemen meet there and hear the litigants there, and why they should not be allowed to live where they choose is carrying the thing too far.
Why not carry on Parliament by correspondence?
What does it matter so long as the judgment is correct? I am sorry he raised this question, it is unworthy of him.
As sure as fate Cape Town is going to be faced with the difficulty that the legislative capital many be moved north. When that proposal comes they will want to stand by the South Africa Act. That has been broken down in many respects. It was intended that Bloemfontein should be the legal centre and that was agreed to as a compensation. It was also intended under the South Africa Act that the provinces should borrow money on their own credit, and their unpopularity is largely due to being crippled in operations owing to the denial of this right. The amount loaned to them by Government is entirely inadequate. The whole question is one of standing by the South Africa Act. I warn members of the Western Province, and Cape Town in particular, that if they don’t stand by the South Africa Act they will have no claim for consideration when it comes to their day of trouble.
If my friend had read the South Africa Act he would remember that the Act did not provide that appeals should be heard only at Bloemfontein. It provided that the appellate division should sit in Bloemfontein but might from time to time, for the convenience of the suitors, hold its sittings at other places within the Union. The Act was altered in 1912, and that clause was amended and interpreted and cases were in practice heard only at Bloemfontein.
Don’t get angry.
I am not angry at all. What he does not realize since the change in 1912 is that the poor man’s rights of appeal have been entirely done away with. I don’t say that we should go back to it, but before the law was altered in 1912 the poor man could appeal. If he lived in the Transvaal or in Natal he could wait until the appeal court came there to sit, and hear his appeal. It was not a case of Cape Town only. The appeal court went round, and that was done away with in 1912. Any man practising as a barrister will tell you that the poor man can never appeal anymore because the appeal is too expensive. It does not really affect Cape Town alone. Cape Town does not benefit by the fact that a judgment is delivered here. What you have to consider is not merely the interests of a particular town, but you have also to consider the interests of the public. Bloemfontein has got in this respect a most substantial concession beyond what was given to it under the Act of Union by the Act of 1912.
I am very sorry that the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) did not take the advice of the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) and not get excited about this. I think it would have been far better if the barristers had not joined in this debate. To say that the poor man has been deprived of his rights of appeal is, I think, an exaggerated statement. You have only three months in which you can appeal. Previously one session was in Cape Town, one in Pretoria and the other in Maritzburg, so that the poor man in the Transvaal had only one chance in 12 months of appealing. Bloemfontein is a most convenient place for the sittings of the Appellate Division. It is a central city; true, it is a bit far from Cape Town, but it is far better for the Cape Town barristers to go to Bloemfontein than for all the barristers from the north to come to Cape Town. I am sure I shall have the support of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) in this. I am sorry that I have had to take a part in this debate, which I would much sooner not have taken. I support the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) in his suggestion that we should have longer terms than we now have in Bloemfontein.
I would like to say in connection with this matter that we are wasting a great deal of unnecessary time, because the whole discussion as to whether the poor man will be deprived of his right of appeal is beside the point. I think it is as well that this House and the country should recognize that the poor man has no right of appeal, whether the court sits in Cape Town or anywhere else, and that not only the court of appeal, but also the Supreme Court are the preserves of rich litigants.
In regard to the question of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell), as to having eight judges in the Transvaal, I think that those of us, who know what the conditions are, feel that it is necessary to increase the personnel of the court there from seven to eight. It is a matter that one cannot pass at a moment’s notice, and a matter which I will take up with the Cabinet during the recess, when we will decide whether it is necessary to make the increase or not. We shall only go to the expense if it is proved to be necessary. In any case, it will not take place during the present financial year. Then a delicate question was raised—and it is a delicate question—with regard to the ages of some of the judges on the bench. This was dealt with by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout, and the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) from somewhat different points of view. If I might refer to the remarks of the hon. member for Three Rivers, the comparison with England is rather a difficult comparison, because, after all, they keep their powers in a country of that kind to a greater age than we do in South Africa. Climatic conditions and things of that kind make the comparison a very difficult one.
Insurance companies do not show that.
This House has already laid down that the retiring age for judges in South Africa is 70. Why this is a delicate question is because there are, at the present time upon the bench in this country, judges over the age of 70, whom neither he nor I nor any person in this House would wish to lose, and the fear I have from a discussion of this kind is that we may lose the men whom we don’t want to lose, and we retain the men whom we don’t want to retain. There are certainly judges in South Africa to-day considerably in advance of the age of 70 whom the barristers in this country, who have practised before them, feel that they should retire from the bench, but, at the same time, there are judges above that age whom I would not like to see us lose, and with whom I have discussed matters of this kind already, and whom I have told that I hope that we are not going to lose their services for a large number of years to come. I think we shall have to leave that in the hands of the judges themselves. A judge has a right to continue as long as he feels that his powers are sufficient for the purpose. It would be an invidious task for me, in my official capacity, to approach any of these gentlemen. Taking the obvious case where a man feels that his powers of hearing or sight are failing to a large extent, I do not think that that man should remain on the bench, because he cannot appreciate an argument put before him properly. I appreciate the spirit in which my hon. friend has raised this point. Then a point was raised in regard to the salaries of judges. I could not quite follow from the remarks of the hon. member for Three Rivers whether he thought the salaries were too high or too low.
I am inclined to agree with my hon. friend, though, at the same time, I wish to add this, that the position of judge is a position of high honour, and we feel, in this country, that no man is taking up that position because he wishes to improve his financial position. He cannot improve his financial position by doing so. I admit at once that a man in a good practice in any of the bigger cities of South Africa is certainly sacrificing a considerable amount by going upon the bench, but I think that is a sacrifice which is willingly made, and I do not think we should lightly increase the salaries that are being paid to-day. I, personally, would like to see those salaries increased.
Increase their pensions.
They have their pension rights. The pension works out at roughly £100 for each year of service on the bench, so that, if a man has been on the bench for ten years at the date of his retirement, he receives a pension of £1,000. I do not think we should, at this stage, at all events, agitate for an increase of judges’ salaries. We should leave the salaries as they are, knowing that when a man goes on the bench he feels that a very high honour has been conferred upon him, although it may entail a sacrifice in a financial sense. With regard to the question of the appeal court at Bloemfontein, nobody is entirely satisfied with the conditions under which it functions to-day. I do not want to deal with it largely, but there is one thing which is particularly felt by the advocates practising before that court, and it is this, that the court tries to accomplish too large an amount of work in too short a time. They do not give themselves a chance to do themselves justice there. What happens? We find every day of the session different cases being tried. The judges come back and work at night, and they also work in the early morning. They are working the whole of the time, and I feel it would be a much better system if we could lay down fairly long sessions for the court, and allow litigants to place their own cases on the roll. We would then find, when the session comes to an end, that the whole of the session was finished, and it would not be necessary for judges to correspond with each other in different centres in order to arrive at some conclusion in their judgments, which is not the best way by which conclusions can be reached. I think that a tremendous amount of work is concentrated in too narrow a space, and the reason is that judges fix their own sessions and they hear cases every day. Dealing with one case before another is heard is the best way in an appeal court; and, along these lines, I think we can improve the present position in some way. I am not going into the question of administrative, legislative or judicial capitals. I do not think that either point of view is altogether correct. The section says that the appeal division shall sit at Bloemfontein, but may, from time to time, hold its sitting elsewhere for the convenience of suitors. Even the judicial mind can some times be elastic in interpreting provisions of the law, and that is why I think, at a later stage, alterations were made. This court will win an even higher measure of respect if it does its work in the way I suggest it should be done.
There is one question which is causing a good deal of concern, and that is the question of the status of the Eastern Districts Division of the Supreme Court. There is a strong feeling all over the Eastern Province that it is not fair to the public that they should be, at the discretion of one of the litigants, called down to Cape Town for the hearing of a case. The hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander) said that often a man would not go to the appeal court because he could not afford it, but it frequently occurs that a litigant in the eastern districts, if he is threatened by his opponent with the case being heard in Cape Town, throws up the case because he cannot afford the expense if he should lose it. When I raised this question last session the Minister said that he would have an enquiry made during the recess, and I want to know whether he has had that enquiry made, since he informed me in December last that he had not had time to attend to the matter. I submit that it is a matter of urgency and that at the least such an enquiry should be made as soon as possible. There is a growing feeling on this matter that exclusive jurisdiction should be granted to the Eastern Districts Court. The opposition has come mainly from certain people, and it is commonly said that it is not the litigants but their advisers who like to have the case brought down here because it is a pleasant place to come to. There is a lot of truth in that. I hope the Minister will do something after the House rises to carry out his promise. I understand that the Minister intends going more widely into the question on the lines of seeing how the geographical considerations of the country affect the question of these divisional courts, and anything he does will probably be made to apply to the courts at Kimberley and elsewhere as well.
The hon. member has put his argument on the ground that it was not fair to the public. At present the public in the eastern districts have the option to go either to Grahamstown or here. The safeguard has not been mentioned by the hon. member. Where a case can be more conveniently heard at a court other than that where it is brought, it can be removed, and it is removed. Every court has the power to remove a case from one Court to another if it can be more conveniently heard there. What the hon. member forgets is this, that if his wishes are carried out, the Cape Provincial Division would be degraded to a lower position than any other division. The whole basis of the Act of Union is to give in this province a court which has jurisdiction over the whole province. By the hon. member’s suggestion you would be degrading the Cape Provincial Division. There have been divisions in the Union Parliament upon proposals to take this position away, to take away the concurrent jurisdiction of the Cape Provincial Division. I think this would meet with a very considerable amount of opposition from those who do not wish to see the Cape Province degraded, in a way that no other province is degraded.
I would like to support the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Struben). I think the position to-day is anomalous. You have overlapping of jurisdiction and it would probably lead to reduced expenditure if the proposal were agreed to. In regard to the remarks of the hon. member for Hanover Street that the present system is for the convenience of suitors, I do not think that is the case. The fact is that large numbers of attorneys practising in the Eastern Province have been articled to attorneys in Cape Town, and are to-day connected with those firms, and, naturally, are in favour of cases being tried in Cape Town instead of supporting their own court. I hope the Minister will seriously consider the matter of separate jurisdiction, which is one in the public interest.
I have been asked to bring to the notice of the Minister and the House the case of Mr. Nevin, who took the B.A. degree of the Royal University of Ireland in 1892, and the LL.B, degree of the same university, with honours, in 1898. Mr. Nevin came to South Africa and has taken the local examination in Roman-Dutch law for admission of advocates in Roman-Dutch law, and the statute law of the Union. He was anxious to practise in these courts and applied to the Minister to declare that the LL.B. degree of the Royal University of Ireland was equivalent to the degree of Bachelor of Laws of the University of South Africa. The Minister declined, and the correspondence has been forwarded to me. I have gone through it, and I find some difficulty in following the reasons for the Minister’s actions in this regard. It is left to the Minister to take action under the following circumstances: In section 12 (a) of the Administration of Justice Proclamation No. 14 of 1902 it states that it shall be lawful for the Governor, after having consulted and obtained the approval of the majority of the members of the High Court of the Transvaal (now the Transvaal Provincial Division) to notify in the “Gazette” that any examination in law specified in such notice shall be deemed equivalent to the examination for the degree of Bachelor of Laws in the University of the Cape of Good Hope. Mr. Nevin laid his case before the Minister of Justice, or, rather, in the first instance, laid it before the Governor, who stated that he had referred the matter to the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Justice replied to Mr. Nevin that he could not see his way to recommend the issue of the necessary notification in the “Gazette” as requested by him. Mr. Nevin replied to the Minister pointing out that the Act required that the Minister should consult with the judges in coming to a decision as to whether a colonial or British degree of LL.B, was equivalent to our degree here in South Africa, and although the Minister replied, he did not meet that point. The letter simply stated that the matter had been submitted to the Minister of Justice, who regretted that he had nothing to add to his previous letter. In other words, that letter was simply a refusal to issue this proclamation. I venture to submit to the Minister, not in any spirit of hostility, that he has acted unfairly to this particular applicant. I do not know whether the Minister has any personal knowledge of the value of the degrees of the Royal University of Ireland. I cannot say that I have any myself, but I believe it is a university of very considerable standing, and that its degrees are by no means easily obtained. The Solicitor-General of Southern Rhodesia, himself a graduate of that university, wrote to Mr. Nevin on the 9th March stating that he believed the standard of the examinations was at least as high as that of the law examinations of any of the other universities such as Oxford and London, which are recognized by the rules of court and the Union Act No. 19 of 1921. He also stated that the LL.B, degree of the Royal University was accepted by the University of the Cape of Good Hope, as equivalent to its own LL.B., and that this was shown by the fact that admission “ad eundem gradum” to the Cape degree was readily granted to a holder of the former degree, although the passing of a further examination in Roman-Dutch and local statute law was necessary for admission to the Cape bar. Mr. Nevin is desirous of practising in our courts, but the Minister has refused to proclaim the degree of this university as equivalent under the powers conferred on him by section 12 (a). I say that that is an injustice to this particular man.
I am afraid I cannot follow that view. The position is that a man comes to this country knowing the degree that he has obtained does not entitle him to be admitted to practise in the courts in this country. How can that be an injustice’ He wants a change in the law. It cannot be an injustice that we do not change our law to meet this man’s case. There may be other reasons why a change in the law should be made, but it cannot be based on injustice to this gentleman when he passed his examinations. As a matter of fact, I believe this university degree was recognized at one time and afterwards not recognized. It was de-proclaimed, if I might use that expression. It is also stated that I acted wrongly in not endeavouring to consult and obtain the approval of the majority of the judges, but that is only if I am prepared to make a recommendation. If I am not prepared to recommend, I must not consult. Supposing I am prepared to recommend I cannot do so unless the majority of judges are prepared to approve.
Don’t you think this casts on you a duty to put this matter before the judges?
I am quite certain it does not. This clause was not intended to make it easy to recognize degrees, but to make it difficult, I am not prepared to recommend in this case. There are a large number of universities which are recognized, and I see no reason to add to the number.
Vote put and agreed to.
Vote 16, “Magistrates and District Administration”, £578,709, put and agreed to.
On Vote 17. “Prisons and Reformatories”, £769,300,
I should like to know what the Minister’s view is of convict labour. A few days ago the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) took exception to convicts being employed on the construction of certain roads in the Cape Peninsula, he claiming that the work should have been done by independent labour. With this view the Minister of Labour concurred. It seems to me much more desirable that cur convicts should be put to some useful service, than to pick oakum or break stones.
I don’t think anyone will be against convicts being put to useful labour, but the hon. member loses sight of the point: Is it fair, when we have a large number of unemployed, that convicts should be employed at 6d. or 1s. a day to oust free labour. The difficulty is this: When private employers and municipalities know they can obtain an unlimited supply of cheap convict labour, it renders the plight of the unemployed still more distressing. We are spending a large amount of money for the relief of unemployment, but if convict labour is largely employed, the result is likely to be disastrous. When this point has been urged in the past, we have been told that particular works would not have been done if the municipalities had had to pay at the ordinary rate of wages. If we do not look into this we shall find eventually that convict labour will oust a large amount of free labour.
Is the Government pursuing any definite policy in regard to this question of convict labour? During the last election it was very forcibly brought to the public notice that a large amount of convict labour was employed by De Beers. Will the Minister consider the advisability of hiring a large number of convicts to the Free State farmers, who are in sore straits in order to get in the mealie crop at the present time?
I would like to call the Minister’s attention to the employment of convict labour by certain wealthy residents of Parktown and other districts of Johannesburg for laying out their gardens and improving their ground, although these people could web afford to pay the ordinary rate of wage to the many unemployed people of Johannesburg. As the Government is subsidizing the Johannesburg municipality 2s. 6d. a day for relief workers, these wealthy people should not be allowed to take advantage of cheap convict labour at 6d. or 1s. a day. I do not know if the practice continues, but if so, I hope the Minister will put a stop to it. I brought this matter before the notice of the last Government, but did not get very much satisfaction.
It is quite correct that a large number of convicts are employed by De Beers Company; for many years a thousand were employed. De Beers were induced to take these convicts when Mr. Rhodes was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. The Government had been put to enormous expense maintaining these convicts, and to ease the colonial finances, Mr. Rhodes got De Beers to take a large number of convicts. The Minister of Justice is at perfect liberty to take these convicts away from the company, for I can state positively the company does not save financially by employing them. De Beers have to provide barracks for the convicts, pay all the expenses such as guards and the feeding and clothing of these native convicts. The result is that the cost to the company is exactly the same as if it employed ordinary free natives. They do something in addition to that. De Beers pay all the expenses, and there is no saving financially to them, but it is an advantage to a large number of white men that De Beers Company do employ these prisoners, because the State pays the warders about 7s. 6d. a day, and De Beers Company will not employ a white man unless he gets a living wage. About 130 of these white men are engaged as convict guards, and De Beers supplement their pay to bring it up to 15s. per day. If you take the natives away you will do the State a disservice, because the average cost per convict is about £30 per annum. So that if you do take them away, you will saddle the State with an additional expenditure of £30,000 a year, and you will deprive 130 white men of an additional 7s. 6d. a day. I suppose the hon. member for Vredefort (Mr. Munnik) wants to have a dig at De Beers, because he is still fretting under the defeat he sustained when he contested Beaconsfield.
The policy with regard to convict labour has been laid down by Act of Parliament and appears in section 93 of Act 13 of 1911. It shows under which law and under which we continue to act. It says—
- (1) Subject to the employment upon public works, as far as possible, the director may contract with any authorities, any divisional council, or municipal council, or other public body, or with any person or body of persons, for the employment of convicts and prisoners who are under sentence of hard labour, upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed between such parties, and any place in respect of which such employment is contracted for shall be deemed to be a convict prison or gaol for the purpose of offences committed by convicts and prisoners, the officers in charge of them, or by any other person.
- (2) As far as practicable all departments of the public service shall purchase from the prisons department, at such prices as may from time to time be determined by the Government tender board to be fair and reasonable, such articles and supplies as may be required by those departments and as may be manufactured or produced and can be supplied by the prisons department.
- (3) The products of labour in any convict prison or gaol may from time to time be sold to any person under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Minister, who shall prescribe such conditions, as will, as far as possible, prevent competition with industries carried on in the neighbourhood of that convict prison or gaol.
I don’t think it makes it imperative that the prison authorities shall act in this way, but it shows the intention of the legislature. It is essential to find work for the people who get into prison, a large number of them being sentenced with hard labour. There is a difficulty of getting employment for them, and making that employment compete as little as possible with outside free labour. Generally speaking there are two ways in which the prisoners can be employed, road-making and quarrying, but objections are always made that that interferes with free labour, especially when the roads and quarries are situated near large centres where there is a considerable amount of unemployment. If you do not instil habits of labour into the men who are in prison you will find, when they come out they will swell the ranks of the unemployed. It is entirely right that the work should be done for public bodies. Prisoners can be contracted out for 1s. or 1s. 3d. a day, and can be usefully employed where you have a rough bit of ground or quarrying work. We must try and see, however, that work done for private persons does not prevent free labour from being usefully employed. You will see the difficulty. From my point of view the only point affecting me in my department is to see that these men get work, but I shall also look at it from the point of view of free labour outside. I am not certain that De Beers have been fairly attacked this afternoon. Generally they are, but at the present time the position is that De Beers are doing something more than the ordinary employer of convict labour. There is no provision for De Beers paying for the cost of food and keep of the convicts, and in addition De Beers supplement a wage paid to the temporary warders appointed to look after the labour. The wage we are paying is 8s. 6d. but they pay a higher figure, and in addition they give the buildings which are occupied by the convicts. They are doing something more than the ordinary members of the public, and not less as the hon. member for Vredefort thought they were doing.
It is a good deal more.
The whole question of convict labour is a matter which I hope the hon. members will allow me to go into properly. There are difficulties from the department’s point of view, and difficulties from the free labour point of view. We shall have to reconcile them as much as possible, but keep in mind section 93 of the Act, and the difficulties we have. We shall have to give work to the criminals in gaol, and they must allow me to do my best to evolve a scheme which will interfere as little as possible with free labour. I don’t think any difficulty can arise with regard to products of prison labour. To-day it is provided by the Act that the public departments must purchase from us these products, and until we change the Act it is right the products should be purchased by the different departments under its terms. In Natal I think one concern specially objected to this, because we were interfering with a product they were producing. I will not say what the particular article was. At all events, we went into the position. The labour by which we produce our products in the Pretoria central prison and other parts of the country is skilled white labour, white labour made skilled in prison and in some cases made more skilled in prison than it was before. We found that the Natal concern which was complaining about our selling these goods to other departments was built up entirely on Indian labour. When I found that out, the complaint of that Natal firm left me absolutely cold. I can see no reason why we should prevent the sale of our products, produced by white skilled labour, to other Government departments in favour of a concern in Natal which has been built up on Indian labour. I admit at once that this is one of the most difficult questions you have got to deal with. With your large population, I do not care to use the term criminal population, with your large population in the gaols of this country which you have to find work for, you must to a certain extent, I suppose, impinge upon the free labour outside the gaols, but you must try to make that impingement as small as possible.
I would like to point out to the committee that a great deal of latitude has been allowed this afternoon in regard to the discussion of the vote. A discussion on policy has taken place. A discussion on policy is not allowed in committee, except under the Minister’s salary, and an amendment should have been moved to the Minister’s salary. In discussing his salary this question could have been brought forward. Now we can only discuss the different items and I would suggest to hon. members that they keep to the items as printed on the estimates. I find no item here about convict labour at all.
Right at the foot of the page.
That is an estimated receipt. We are not discussing estimated receipts; we are discussing expenditure now.
On a point of order, surely estimated receipts have their reflection upon the expenditure, and I think you ought to allow us to discuss the policy underlying the utilization of convicts where the receipts from that source are going to be used in the direction of reducing expenditure.
The hon. member will see that this is only a note for information. I know that this is a most interesting discussion as far as hon. members are concerned, but they are right outside the rules of order, and I cannot allow the discussion to go on, otherwise any matter would be discussed, It is a question or policy, and parliamentary practice is that policy shall not be discussed except under certain conditions. If hon. members can find any item here in regard to convict labour, I shall be prepared to assist them. Questions, of course, may be asked from the Minister, but policy cannot be discussed.
Under the heading reformatory, I see that the salary of teachers who are there employed more or less agree with that of the warders. I conclude that the teachers in the reformatories—according to the scale of salaries—are only teachers that have more or less the third-class certificate. I further conclude that we have not got the right kind of teacher in the reformatory. I do not wish to make any comment on the work of the teachers. I have met some of these teachers, and so far as their capacity is concerned they are suitable persons, but in this matter we have need of special teachers. We require in this connection a class of teacher who must ascertain the characteristics of the children in the reformatory. As a rule the child in the reformatory is a neglected child or one that has one or other abnormality, physically, morally or mentally, and each child must be treated according to his characteristics. For that special teachers are required. I conclude from this further, that such a reformatory is under the supervision of a warden. I think that the head of such an institution should be a teacher if it is to be a practical reformatory institution. He should be a teacher of great competency and not a warden. The warden must assist in maintaining discipline in the institution, but a tea* her should stand at the head, and I think that we can make an improvement in this connection. In other countries, e.g., in America, they have special courts for the children where the children are properly examined to find out what the cause of their crimes is. It will, perhaps, not yet be possible to have special courts for children here, but let us then put at the head of the reformatories a teacher who can assist the magistrate with advice with regard to the character of the child. The hon. Minister said something remarkable yesterday, namely, that among the prisoners the same people were found as sat in this House. That among the young offenders the same class of child was found as in the ordinary schools, that they are only poor people who have been induced by their surroundings to commit offences which bring them to the prisons. We can effect appreciable improvement by properly classifying the children and having a teacher at the head of the institution who can treat every child according to his character. I have met some of the children who have been in reformatories and in general they give indication of the prison atmosphere. If there is anything which is injurious to a child in his later life then it is this, that it may be said that he was in gaol when he was young. This slur we must take away. If a child has done wrong, put him into a reformatory to undergo improvement and to which he can look back with pride, a place where he is assisted to take a fresh step in life and to become a decent individual.
I do not want to transgress your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but with all respect, I want to put it to you that under the administration of prisons we are entitled to speak in so far as the hiring out of denizens thereof is concerned. The director or governor of any prison has it in his power to agree to, or refuse, the hiring out of persons in his charge. I do suggest to the Minister, as a matter of administration, that he should suggest to all the governors of prisons in his charge —and there are many of them—that they make it their business not to hire out prisoners or convicts to be used in competitive industries. I am not going to make any attack on de Beers or the E.R.P.M., but there has grown up a recognized system on the part of the prison authorities that those in their charge are to be used in ordinary industry, and thus compete unfairly—accentuating the unemployment question outside—with those who have to earn a living. I want to suggest to the Minister that he should seriously turn his attention to utilizing these unfortunates in a public or semi-public capacity. For instance, you have the destruction of noxious weeds. That cannot be coped with. It is impossible for any cultivator of land in this country to cope with them. Australia has spent millions of pounds on cactus alone: and it has beaten them. In what better direction can we use these unfortunates inside our prison walls than this? Every year we have the hardy annual, the impossibility of dealing with the visitation of locusts. We make certain hurried visits to the field under the generalship of the Minister of Agriculture, but we cannot beat the locusts. It would be infinitely better if, instead of allowing these people to help to make big profits for de Beers or other big corporations, we used them to destroy these things which are so inimical to our national life.
I suppose the Minister is aware that there is a growing agitation to-day with a view to reducing the number of our prisons. One must not forget that once anyone enters a prison he immediately becomes a convict in terms of the prison rules and regulations. Is it not possible, with our advanced twentieth century civilization, to do away to a great extent with people being sent to prison? What I want to get at is the advisability of establishing some places of detention for people convicted of more minor offences where the sentences are rarely more than 14 days. I have several instances in my mind. A person may leave his horse unattended, and because he cannot afford to pay the fine he goes to prison. Many people who drive motor cars too fast cannot afford to pay the fine and are sent to prison. Many are not convicts or criminals in any sense of the word. There is an agitation going on in America for places of detention. You give them employment, and a greater measure of liberty, and it takes away from them the stigma of being a prisoner. At present you are put to the expense of clothing, guarding and looking after them; it all costs money. I would suggest to the Minister that he might get the latest information from other countries where they are trying methods of this kind, and see if he cannot do something towards reducing the numbers of our so-called criminals, because in many cases they are not criminals at all; they are merely people who commit an offence. I hope he will go into the matter; it is worthy of investigation; and it will tend to reduce the number of prisoners, to take away the stigma from persons who have not committed any crime, and it would also tend to reduce expenditure.
I should like to invite the Minister’s attention to a very thoughtful paper read in Pietermaritzburg by Mr. Justice Tatham on the subject of persons convicted of trivial offences. Mr. Justice Tatham, who is a South African himself, has been thinking a good deal about the punishment of natives for petty crimes. And he says in a paper which I should like to send to the Minister—
He is in favour of a native being given a milder form of punishment and not being sent to the ordinary prison discipline for a trivial offence, and I agree with him that some different sort of discipline, such as exists on road camps, as is the case in Swaziland, is much better for the natives than being confined in prisons or sent out to work on gangs with natives of the hardened criminal type, who have a bad effect on them. He says—
He says that when they come out they are regarded as heroes for having been in prison for committing an offence that is not really a crime at all. The fines are not paid, the natives preferring to go to prison. He goes on to say—
He also argues that the criminal native costs the State in police and prison, etc., more than his weight in gold; but that the man who is preserved as a useful citizen to earn his living in a respectable way is easily worth his weight in gold. I commend this view to the Minister, because I think a good many of us are rather troubled about the effect of prisons upon the natives generally. The tremendous growth of secret societies and criminal gangs amongst the natives is a matter that must give us grave concern. In every town there exist gangs that are banded together for the commission of offences, from the very mildest offence up to the worst kind of criminality, and I think these gangs have had their origin in the gaols, and they find favourable conditions for continuance in the compounds where they still carry on their associations, and in that way we are arriving at the stage of having a permanent criminal class among the natives. They have their own catchwords; they refer to the police as “horses.” That is to signify that the police are on their track, and they refer to a victim as a “bird”; in that way they would indicate to one another that they had had a good haul and had robbed somebody. There is no doubt that the criminal classes are built on the same foundation as those of the European criminal class. We have to-day native burglars almost as expert as the European burglars in England or Australia. We have to consider the origin of these things, and I am sure a great many of these criminals were originally brought into contact with other criminals when put in prison for some trivial offence. Could not something along the lines suggested by Mr. Justice Tatham be done? In the first place, by sending the natives to a road party or some place where they would be under the control of a Government official, and there be safeguarded against any sort of abuse. I think it is a matter that merits investigation by the director of prisons. I think, if he would take the matter up, it would lead to something satisfactory being done. His long experience and gift for organization would, I am sure, be very valuable in such a matter as this.
It was brought to my notice on one of my occasional visits to the prisons, that you are rather dealing with the prisoners on too strict a basis. Why, for instance, should an unfortunate prisoner not be allowed to smoke and have other little privileges? You put him in prison to prevent his being a prey on society for a period; but that should not involve him in being prevented from having any of the amenities of life; but if a man is found with the fag end of a cigarette or some tobacco he gets another three weeks’ hard, and it is a tremendous comfort to a man to be allowed to smoke. If the member for Cape Town (Central) were in the position of being Minister of Justice, naturally I would be inside soon after, and the most terrible punishment I could have would be to be deprived of my pipe.
The hon. member for Potchefstroom (the Rev. Mr. Fick) spoke in connection with the salaries of teachers in reformatories. Those salaries are fixed by the public service commission on the same scale as the salaries in industrial schools. As such, they come under the Minister of Finance and the public service commission, and it will be a difficult matter to get the Minister of Finance to increase the scales. In connection with the children’s court, we are trying to introduce the system in large towns that the same magistrate should always sit in courts where children come before the court. The extension of the system is only a question of money while our country is so thinly populated. We shall develop in proportion to our means, because, if we go too fast with the development, then we shall have once more the ceaseless criticism of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger).
In connection with the remarks of the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown), he discussed the question of establishing places of detention for prisoners with short sentences of under a month, and said you should not place a stigma of prison dress on them, because that stigma and the fact of going to prison makes recidivism possible and almost inevitable. To a certain extent, we have made some provision for road gangs to which prisoners are drafted. These have to be established at places where you can have a large number of prisoners. Near Johannesburg and Pretoria there are camps, and it quite possible it would be useful to have that system extended. This would assist also in the direction mentioned by the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) in connection with natives. The native is afraid of prison, but he loses that fear once he gets into prison, so that if you can keep him in road camps that would be beneficial. There are practical difficulties in the way, but I trust they will be overcome. I have seen the extract with regard to Mr. Justice Tatham; it is a very interesting treatise, and I think our policy is more or less running along those lines, with the object of preventing this terrible swarming into prisons which is taking place in South Africa. I will enquire into the matter. My information from the Director of Prisons is that the Nineveh gang was started outside the prisons before the Boer war, but the native members of the gang were rounded up and the organization was continued in the gaols. Naturally, the gang obtains fresh recruits in the gaols. The hon. member, I think, is right in saying that these gangs were extended as a result of the leaders being rounded up and sent to gaol, and there obtaining fresh adherents.
I think the founder of the Nineveh gang was a long-sentenced native who has been in gaol for twenty years.
He organized the gang before he got into gaol the first time. These are useful matters to remember in connection with this whole problem, because we always come back to this point, that it is a very great danger to the community to send a short sentence man to gaol, for you never know how far the contamination of prison life is going to lead him in the future. The suggestion will be considered by me to see if it is possible to carry it out.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 18, “Police,” £2,540,755,
Can the Minister tell us anything in connection with the Durban and Maritzburg police forces. The negotiations are proceeding between the Government and the municipalities for the taking over of these forces, and I should like to know if the position of the men as regards pension rights and so on will be adequately secured. There is a small body of men at Durban known as the water police. Is there any working arrangement whereby they can call in the assistance of the Durban police in case of trouble? I see there is an allowance of £300 to the Johannesburg civic guard; what is that particular body?
I would like to support what the hon. member for Umbilo has said with reference to the Durban water police. Last session I discussed the point with the Minister, and I quite appreciate the difficulty under which the Minister has to labour. At the same time, when the country is responsible to all ship-owners for the complete police protection of their ships when they are in port, the protection afforded in Durban is quite inadequate This is the outcome of the fact that the Durban police are borough police, and the water police have not therefore the authority to call in the assistance of the borough police, who do, however, assist them whenever they can. This is a matter of great urgency, and I hope the Minister will give it his serious consideration.
Last year I brought to the notice of the Minister that a feeling existed that too little was done in the Country with regard to night patrols. I want to say at once, as regards this matter, that there has been a great improvement in my neighbourhood. There are now fairly regular night patrols, but I hope that it is not only in my neighbourhood, but throughout the whole country. Our farmers feel that if those patrols go round that theft of stock will very much decrease. Then there is a general complaint that there are too few police in the country. In a thickly populated district like Heilbron, it is felt that there are quite too few police. The Minister will say at once that there is not sufficient money to increase the police force. We are in favour of economy, and economy must take place, but in this respect we feel that money spent in that way is money well invested. I just want to bring to the notice of the Minister two instances in n district. The one is Molendraai, 27 miles from the village. There are no police in the neighbourhood. If it is at all possible, I hope the Minister will establish a police post there. Another part from which I have received petitions is in the direction of Petrus Steyn, a farm called Delvo. The people live closely together there, and there are numbers of natives. They are also very anxious to have a police station. Hon. members are possibly not so well acquainted with conditions there, but the district is thickly populated, and the farmers experience great difficulties, because there are not enough police. The police constables there do their duty, but they cannot do their work properly, because they are too small in number. Money spent in this direction is not spent wrongly, and I hope the Minister will see his way to meet the request of the people there.
By the last census the number of sheep stolen or missing was 510,118 throughout the Union. In the district of Barkly East over 15,000 sheep were stolen during 1923. There is a continual warfare going on in my district on this question. The thefts are not confined to small lots, but there are many cases where the number exceeds 100 Officers have from time to time investigated the position, and we have members of past Ministries who have gone there to try and ascertain the extent of the evil and to suggest remedies. In 1903 Major Harris was sent up there and brought out a splendid report. One farmer in 4 months lost 520 sheep. Ten years later another officer went up and he reported five farmers alone along the border lost 3,000 sheep, presumably stolen. Only in 1923 the question came up again and a strong committee was appointed by the House and went thoroughly into the question, and the committee was representative of farmers on both sides of the House. We had the Minister of Justice on the committee, an eminent lawyer as chairman and several most experienced farmers, and the member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) who represented the police, to which he previously belonged, and they brought out one of the most authoritative documents we have ever had. I asked the Minister if he has considered that report. In considering this matter this report should form an important feature of the administration of the police authorities and the Government. I do riot think this is an opportune moment to go too fully into the matter, but I think there is a prevalent idea throughout the country that farmers themselves are responsible for the excessive stealing that goes on, owing to the treatment they mete out to their servants. It is contended the farmers do not feed, house or clothe their men properly and generally do not treat the natives as they should be treated, and this is responsible for the thieving which takes place. I wish to deny that emphatically. The committee after going carefully into the question have come to the same conclusion. I would like to read what another committee says on this subject, the committee appointed by the Agricultural Union a little while ago, and which sat in East London. The report stated—
That was a considered opinion of a conference of very representative farmers. I would like to read the names of these farmers:—Messrs. J. A. Venter, Claude Southey, C. G. Hay, E. S. Pugh. E. Carter and Claude Orpen. The police have contended that it cannot be expected, where a farmer puts 1,500 sheep in charge of an unintelligent and inferior type of shepherd, that good results can be expected, and that farming is the only profession in which you find property to that extent entrusted to the care of a native. We feel that if the farmer has taken every reasonable precaution to look after his sheep: has put up vermin-proof fences and has taken every reasonable precaution to see the sheep are properly looked after, you cannot expect any more of him. It is the duty of the State to protect him from lawless violence.
My hon. friend the member for Heilbron (Mr. M. L. Malan) brought to the notice of the Minister that there ought to be more police stations in the interior. I agree with that, but there is also another aspect of the matter which I have already often seen in my constituency. We have extended areas there which have absolutely no police. Then again there are parts where there is only one police constable at a post. If he is away on duty there is no one and if the most frightful murder takes place then it of no use going there. Such a post therefore is worth very little. I know that the hon. Minister will say that the expense will be very great, but I am convinced that the tax payers will be prepared to bear the expense if they know that they are getting proper protection by the police. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide for at least two constables at every post inland. I recently made representation to the Minister in the matter on behalf of the farmers’ associations in my district, and he is acquainted with the matter.
I hope the Minister will take note of what the hon. member (Mr. Sephton) has just said in connection with stockthieving. A most valuable recommendation was made by the select committee to which the hon. member referred, viz.: the establishment of a mobile force of detectives that could be transferred from one area to another where stockthieving was prevalent. There are a number of men in the police who have a natural aptitude for the detection of different kinds of crime, and some of these men are especially qualified to deal with stock thefts, but they are kept in one district. These men ought to be drafted into this mobile force, so that their services would be available in different parts of the country as required. In the past very numerous cases have occurred where stock has been lost and the farmer goes to the police and looks upon them rather in the light of being herds. This handicaps the police in their real work which they should perform. Another point I would bring under the notice of the Minister is that you have a number of native detectives who are sent out to try and detect stock thieving. There have been quite a few cases where these natives have been stealing sheep and laying traps in order to try and get some innocent person into trouble so as to make it appear that they are carrying out their duties. That is another reason why you should have a special force to deal with stock thieving. Then I hope the Minister will listen to the voice of the Witwatersrand in connection with the demand for more police on the Rand. We have not enough police to deal with the requirements of the large population in that area. Many people are asking for more police posts, and men who are assigned to these posts have to be found out of the police in the service, instead of putting on more police. Another point is the question of more married quarters for the police. The question has been raised as to whether you should reduce the percentage of those allowed to get married from 60 per cent. to a lower figure, because it has not been found possible to provide sufficient quarters for the married men, but I think that more married quarters should be provided so as to enable members of the force to get parried and live a natural life as citizens. I would also like to know whether anything has been done with regard to putting into order the quarters which have been condemned from year to year as unfit for habitation. Then again it seems to me that too many extraneous duties have to be performed by the police. In addition to the fact that people are calling out all over the country for police to perform the proper functions of policemen, we have numerous burdens, extraneous duties, placed upon the police which ought to be carried out by officials in other departments. I hope this point will be considered by the Minister. Although we in the industrial world may differ from the police occasionally, we do realize that the police have only been doing their duty on those occasions, and we feel that the force is a valuable asset, that it is a necessary thing, and we want to see the members of the force housed decently and treated well, and their strength enlarged so that we may have a sufficiently large personnel for the efficient discharge of the duties which the police are called upon to perform. I agree with the Minister that we should try to prevent crime as far as possible and not manufacture criminals, and it seems to me that if we have the necessary police and detective forces we can do much to prevent crime.
I would like to ask the Minister whether any steps have been taken to remedy the complaints which have been made from time to time in Natal with regard to the class of men detailed for police work there. The practice seems to be to recruit men from outside Natal and send them there, with the result that they have no knowledge of local conditions. They do not know the country, they have no knowledge of native languages or native customs, and the result is that they are not competent to perform their duties efficiently. This applies particularly to the rural areas. I know from my own knowledge that men are stationed in rural areas who are unacquainted with any native language. I would like the Minister to say why it is that Natal men are not recruited for service in the police force in Natal. It would appear that Natal is a closed area for recruiting purposes if one may judge from the number of Natal men employed in the police force. If Natal men were employed you would get men with knowledge of local conditions, languages, etc., and I am quite sure the results would be far more satisfactory.
I entirely agree with what the hon. member for Heilbron has said, namely, that there is a great need for more police on the countryside. I have been trying for a few years to get a policeman at Loxton, but so far in vain. I shall go on living in a sweet expectation. But I really got up to say that economy can take place in a certain direction with regard to police, and I want to ask the Minister why policemen, when they commit an offence, cannot be dealt with by the magistrates instead of by their commanding officers. I want to mention a typical case of two policemen at Carnarvon. The inspector from Victoria West first went to Carnarvon to investigate the matter. He came back and made a report on the case to the commandant at Beaufort West, who in his turn went to Carnarvon (a distance of 120 miles) to investigate the matter, I understand that those people draw extra allowance for such investigation and payment for petrol and travelling expenses. After the matter had been investigated, both the policemen in the long run were lined 10s., and the costs were certainly not less than £8 or £10. I mentioned this matter last year, and I wish again to urge upon the Minister that such eases should be dealt with in the magistrate’s court. If a serious charge is made against a police constable the case can be heard in camera so that the public are excluded. It happens some times that the man who makes the complaint is at the same time the judge. That is wrong, especially in the case of the commandant of Beaufort West, who has not much sympathy for Dutch-speaking people, where one man had an attorney and the other was not permitted to have an attorney. I hope the Minister will see that these matters are brought under the magistrate’s court.
I want to make a suggestion which I have made over and over again. Every year we hear this cry for more police. Why does not the Minister bring in a Bill for the areas to tax themselves to raise police? It would do a very great deal to meet this demand, because as things are at present the demand will continue to grow. Areas or local authorities who have their fair share of police and want more according to size and population could impose an almost imperceptible tax to make up the deficiency.
I would like to suggest to the Minister that he should consider during the recess the advisability of issuing summer clothing for the police during the summer months. I would also like the Minister to consider whether he could not supply more police, especially in the up-country districts. The hon. member for Aliwal Mr. Sephton) has been speaking about the shortage of police, and it is well-known throughout the length and breadth of the country that you have not got enough police even in towns. I would ask him whether it would not be advisable to make an arrangement with the Minister of Defence whereby the brass hat brigade now stationed at Pretoria could during the interval when there is no prospect of war, do police work in the country districts. The previous striking force in time of war, who were previously known as the C.M.R., used to do efficient police work between the wars. I suggest this believing that this country according to its financial position will not for a long time to come be able to pay for tire upkeep of two efficient forces. I do this with, the ultimate idea of trying to bring together the defence force and the police. I realize the large amount of money which at the present time is being wasted; and I believe the difficulty would be solved by utilising these men who at present are of no use in time of peace.
If the hon. Minister wants to know what the position is with regard to the police system then he must go to the large extended sheep districts. I can assure the hon. Minister that where I held meetings in my constituency after the last session the police system was repeatedly brought up. At every meeting I was instructed to make my voice heard in the matter. There is no doubt that one of the chief causes of the dissatisfaction is that the service is entirely top heavy. The estimates show that. We have inspectors, sub-inspectors and then again inspectors under them. Everyone has something to say and all give extra work. There is also another matter which contributes to the ineffective work. Take e.g., the question of sheep stealing. There are perhaps one or two men for an extended division and they cannot do the work. The more because they have also to do all sorts of office work, such as the preparation of returns, forms and statistics—they are engaged on “red tape” —that are expected from them by their chiefs. The matter which has been mentioned here by hon. members is also the cause of the ineffectiveness of the force namely that they must do all kinds of work in connection with registration, etc., with the result that the police constable who already has a large area under him cannot perform all his duties. What has been suggested at my meeting is what has already been said by the hon. member for Victoria West (Mr. du Toit). When the police stood under a police constable who in his turn stood under a magistrate, then the matter was better. The system with all the inspectors is no good. There are eleven of them who get over £1,000 per annum. I do not blame the present Minister, because he inherited it all, but I can give him the assurance that the farmers are suffering severely from all the thefts and feel that it is time that the matter was investigated to that the Minister can put it on a better basis. Then I want to bring another matter to the notice of the Minister. It appears that there were about 60 police officials who were entitled to promotion but before that took place new regulations came out and they did not get it. They feel that an injustice has been done them. I want to bring one instance of that to the notice of the Minister. I have a man in my constituency who actually is at the head of the constables in the whole district. He gets £305 per year, and one of the constables under him gets more than he does. He is one of those who should have got promotion. This is a matter that I want to bring to the notice of the Minister, and I hope he will investigate it. As representative of a sheep district I hope that he will give attention to an effective police force to protect the property of the people.
I am very sorry that we must detain the Minister in connection with this vote, but things are so serious now regarding the theft of stock that I am obliged to make an appeal to the hon. Minister to create a new system to make the punishment in that respect more severe. The estimates show that about £7,000 are expended on gaols, etc., and in the annual report of the Department of Justice a magistrate complains that he cannot inflict a punishment on the thief which would be suitable to the crime in order to bring him to his duty. It occurs that they are sentenced up to 12 months’ imprisonment, but hard labour is not added. Moreover, they get education there. I remember the case of a Hottentot who never had any intention of getting educated. He came out of gaol and said to his master that he could now read and write. What is far more serious is the action of the heads of the police who go round stating that the stock is stolen because the farmer does not give his workpeople enough food. They make no secret of it. In Uitenhage one of them did it openly, and also in Middelburg. This encourages the people to steal the stock. The offenders should be severely punished and treated as convicts and not as people who are going to school. It has been brought to my notice that stock is stolen in lots of 150. We thought that we were rid of scab and jackal, but now we find that the wire is cut and that in that way we lose much stock. Such people should be severely punished by the court, and the periodical courts have not got the right of punishing the people sufficiently severely. I should like the Minister to make provision for that.
I agree with the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) that much of the trouble in regard to stock thefts is the lightness of the sentences, which are not a deterrent. I want to ask the Minister whether he intends to amend the Stock Thefts Act. Last year I tried to get the Act amended, in order to correct some grave faults. It was found by a judgment —
The hon. member cannot now advocate legislation.
Well, I will put it this way: Is the Minister aware that on the 10th March, 1924, the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court found that an actual second conviction now, after the passing of Act 26, of 1923, is not a second conviction in law, unless the theft has been committed under the terms of that Act, or since the passing of that Act? In other words, there are a lot of habitual stock theft criminals—about 4,000 according to the police—who have been in and out of gaol for years and if any of these men are caught now, it is regarded as a first conviction, notwithstanding the fact that they may have been convicted frequently before the passing of Act 26 of 1923. I hope the Minister will do something next session to remedy that. My little Bill, which was supposed to remedy that, and some other shortcomings, we were unable to proceed with last session. Another point is whether sections 9 and 10 of that Act—
The hon. member cannot discuss legislation.
Whatever you do under the present Act, and with the penalties that are inflicted now, you are doing very little to cure stock thieving. Another contributory cause is the want of a proper stock removal Act.
The hon. member may discuss administration, but he cannot, as I have stated, plead for new legislation. The hon. member had the opportunity of doing that when the Minister’s salary was discussed.
Is the Minister aware of various other matters? A little while ago two Europeans were convicted for stock theft, one being sentenced to six months’ imprison merit and the other to twelve months. The former was released almost immediately, and the latter had his sentence reduced, presumably so that he would qualify for release under the amnesty.
Was he released under the general amnesty?
No, in March, before the general amnesty. It is facts like these which make the farmers wonder whether we are ever going to get protection from stock thieves. A European stealing stock is a far more serious matter than a native doing it. We want to help the Minister to put this matter right, but the Chairman will not allow us to adumbrate any suggestions and our task is made very difficult and we must confine ourselves to questions. Well then, is the Minister aware that the farmers have become so desperate that they are holding meetings and discussing all kinds of measures, a few of them have advocated measures which any humane person must deprecate. Both English and Dutch farmers are becoming so angry that unless the Government is careful to do something to meet the position they will take the law in this matter into their own hands. Another suggestion I wish to make is the appointment of more plain clothes constables, for a mounted constable in uniform is not going to catch stock thieves as easily as will a plain clothes man. Will the Minister consider the advisability of increasing the number of police dogs? Has the Minister considered the advisability of requiring habitual stock theft criminals to report to the police at intervals after they are released from gaol so that they can be traced? Will the Minister amend the Stock Thefts Act and introduce a Stock Removal Bill on sound lines and also urge the reintroduction of the Brand’s Bill which the Minister of Agriculture has dropped owing to the attitude thereto of some of his followers? These measures would, I think, go a long way towards putting a stop to this evil. It is not so much the permanent farm servants who steal, as the roving natives and chiefly those from private locations and also labour tenants. They do not steal the stock of their employers but that of his neighbours. Will the Minister consider the establishment of hard labour colonies for habitual thieves, places where, they can do useful work and be kept out of that temptation which they seem unable to resist? [Time expired.]
I should like to ask the Minister if he can give me information with regard to the work of police dogs. I understand that they have given great satisfaction, and I think that the Minister said last year that he intended to provide for an increase in their number. I should like to know if there are more dogs than when he took over his portfolio and what his intentions in this connection are. I understand, on all sides, that the work of the dogs is very satisfactory. Then I just wish to associate myself with the hon. members who have complained about the control over the police on the country side. Some years ago the police came under the local magistrate, and I think that that system gave considerable satisfaction. The magistrate in such a district knows the policemen personally, knows their qualifications and capacity. The policemen see the magistrate often, and get a certain respect for him, and if there is good co-operation, then it works very well. As the position is now, there is almost no sympathy between the policemen and the inspector and the sub-inspector and commandant. They often live hundreds of miles apart, and it is very difficult for a constable at a place far removed from the seat of the commandant, if there is a small case that he wishes to consult the commandant about, for him to get advice from a man who lives hundreds of miles away. And, as the hon. member for Victoria West (Mr. du Toit) has quite rightly said, it means additional expenditure as well. I do not expect that the Minister will dispose of this matter to-day, but I hope that when he has a little time he will consider the matter whether it is not possible to return to the old system, and to bring the police again under the magistrates. If he then investigates the matter—I think it is hardly necessary to say so—then I hope that he will not only consult the commandants, subinspectors and inspectors, but that he will also get the views of the constables on the country side, who actually, to-day, have very little to say, and will also ask what the opinion of the magistrates on this point is. Also I want to say a few words more in support of what the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce) has said about the very warm clothes the contsables have to wear in the summer time. I read from an article in “Die Burger” of the 18th December, 1924—
In the “Cape Times” about the same time, the same complaint was made. It was when it was very warm in November. 1924, and then the constables who regulated the traffic in Cape Town had to do their work in buttoned-up blue uniform. I think we expect a great deal of them if we expect them to do their duty properly in such circumstances in the warm summer months.
I would like to add a word of encouragement. The Minister admits you have to make it as comfortable for the police force as possible, and in that direction the suggestion of the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce) is an excellent one, and I want to support it. There is also another important question, and that is the pay of the police force. There is no doubt that the police cannot exist comfortably on the pay they get, I think the Minister has had representations from the police on the subject, and I want to suggest that the whole question is one for enquiry. At the same time he has got to safeguard those who make the representations, because even under a Pact Government there is a chance of victimization. In this effort of mine to obtain comfortable lives for the police, I want to suggest that we should make an alteration. It is the practice, if the constable is brought before his officer for a crime or misdemeanour, and the officer fines him, say, 10s., the fine carries with it a stoppage of his increment.
That regulation has been changed.
I am glad to hear it. It is an evidence of the just Government of the Pact. There is another question that militates against the comforts of the police. I don’t know whether there is a tendency in the same direction now, but under the late regime there was a tendency in the direction of militarism. I heard one of my hon. friends suggest that he would like to see a closer co-operation between the police and the defence force. I am jealous of the police force, and I do not want to see that. The police don’t want it. They want to be policemen. The police duties are quite sufficient, and they do not want any rifle and bayonet practice. Arising out of that, there is also the question of military titles. I know the Minister does not put it on the estimates, there you have a commissioner, commissioner-general inspectors, etc., and that is quite correct, but why have you got further down a colonel as commissioner? Majors, captains and lieutenants, and that sort of thing. It is additional evidence of the militarization of the police force. I don’t want to press it, because I think the Minister thinks as I do on the subject. Take the mounted police. Many complaints have come to me with a view to their being brought to the notice of the Minister. There is a tremendous amount of military duty and training that they have to undergo, say, before they go out on patrol. It throws on them unnecessary work, tires them out, and creates a tremendous amount of ill-feeling. I don’t speak from imagination, because the complaints have come from many sources, and I suggest the Minister institutes an enquiry into the whole matter. I suggest you take away the military titles, and, generally, make for a more comfortable police force.
Year after year we have urged upon Ministers that we should have more police protection. Unfortunately, we find that little is done in this direction, and that much attention is not given to the matter. I want to appeal to the Minister that he should really not lose sight of this matter. We, who live in border districts, see a continual increase in stock thefts and, therefore, I urge that the police should be increased in those parts. If we look at the annual report of the department of police for the year 1923, we find that the police admit that there has been a continuous increase in the crime of stock theft, and that especially in the eastern province. I just wish to ask the Minister to give more protection for those parts. With reference to the housing of policemen, we find in the same report repeated several times: The housing problem continues to cause great difficulty; the police houses are unsatisfactory and insufficient, etc., etc. Those complaints that the housing is not sufficient also apply very much in my constituency. Only last week I had letters complaining that in Ida provision was made for stables for horses, but that the policemen had to manage the best way they could. With reference to stock thefts, farmers’ associations are constantly passing resolutions that insist on more measures to prevent stock thefts. It is not only sufficient to have police, but more use must also be made of police dogs. I fear that in this respect enough has not yet been done. Then the farmers’ associations want more severe punishments to be given to criminals. The punishment which is now inflicted for stock theft is inadequate, and has not had the effect which it ought to have. The cat should come into vogue more.
The hon. member cannot—
No, I am not advocating new legislation, I am only pointing out what the farmers’ associations suggest. Then just another point, and it is a complaint handed to me by the farmers’ associations. They sent me the resolution they recently passed. It is the Maclear Farmers’ Association, and they have objections against Col. Kirkpatrick, sub-commissioner of police, and their resolution says, inter alia—
The report goes on and greatly disapproves of the colonel’s speech. It is necessary that there should be good co-operation between the farmers and the police, and I wanted to bring the complaint of the farmers’ association to the notice of the Minister.
I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the unsatisfactory accommodation for the police at Worcester.
I cannot get a vote for it. How can I help it?
I will vote the money for you.
Finance won’t give it you.
You have this position at Worcester, that some of the police are at the magistrate’s court, and you have your commandant of police, whose office is just about half-a-mile from there. It must be most unsatisfactory from a police point of view and it is very unsatisfactory from a public point of view. The Worcester municipality is willing to give on very favourable terms all the ground necessary to accommodate the police next to the magistrate’s office. The municipality has already made the offer to the public works department, and an official of that department has been down there to inspect, and he is quite satisfied with the site. In the meantime, you have erected temporary lock-ups in a residential area, which the public have only agreed to on an assurance that other arrangements would be made for the erection on the site offered by the municipality of buildings for the accommodation of the magistrate and the police and, in fact, concentrate all your public officials there. I hope the Minister will see that a start is made on this work at an early date.
I want to endorse what has been said from this side of the House in regard to the serious shortage of police in country districts. It has become so serious to-day that very often complaints made in the early stages after a crime has been committed have to go by the board. I see the position is mentioned by the commissioner and all the officers concerned, and they point out the seriousness of the position that has arisen. Invariably when complaints are made to the police the reply received is that it is impossible to investigate the matter to-day as there are no police available; they are all out on some other duty. I think it is necessary for the Minister to take serious notice of these complaints. As late as Sunday night last, when I made a telephone complaint in regard to the theft of a car in Cape Town, I was met with the reply that there was not a man available. I notice from the report that although commending the Minister’s policy in cutting down this vote, that while it is essential that economy should be observed, we have got to a stage where economy is becoming uneconomical. I notice a quotation from this report to the effect that the ratio of police per head of population has altered from one in 684 in 1921 to one in 713, and the cost of administration has fallen to 7s. 1½d. per capita of the population. Our cost of administration is just about as low as it can possibly be. I hope the Minister will realize that these are serious grievances so far as the detection of crime and the administration are concerned.
I just want to bring a few things to the notice of the Minister, namely, the Stellenbosch gaol.
The hon. member cannot do it in this connection.
Then I will speak about the house of the gaoler.
The hon. member may not talk about that either. What item does he want to bring it under?
I am speaking about vote No. 18.
Yes, but under what item?
About housing for police, and I want to point out that that building was erected in 1775 in the time of Van Plettenberg. It is entirely stuffy and unsuited for a dwelling. I shall be glad if the Minister will visit the place, but I am sorry for his health.
I also want the Minister to appoint more detectives for the farmers to assist them in guarding against theft of stock. The cattle that are stolen amount to thousands of pounds per annum. I do no wish to insist that more police should be appointed because I am in favour of economy, but I think there are too many police in the towns and that there should be more night patrols. Further, I am of opinion that we should have more police dogs. I can give the hon. Minister the assurance that the dogs are of great value. I know of cases where they have tracked the thieves for 12 miles. Then there is another matter which I want to bring to the notice of the Minister. Complaints have been made to me by the men that they are unsympathetically treated by unilingual officers. I am very sorry that this is so, but it is my duty to bring it to the notice of the Minister. They complain that they do not get the promotion to which they are entitled. In my district a constable was dismissed and I was told that he had evidence to prove that the officer concerned said that he would “peg” him, by which we are to understand that he would sit on his neck when he got the chance to put him out of the service. I went to the Secretary for Justice and asked that the papers should be sent to me. This has not yet been done.
He can appeal to me.
I can send the Minister petitions from all parties in the division and from the magistrate, who all urge that he should be reappointed in the service. I want the Minister to take this into consideration. I understand that seven years ago he signed a unilingual circular and that he has now committed a slight offence against those regulations and he has been discharged although he no longer knew what was contained therein. I think this is a very hard case. He did his duty to the satisfaction of everyone there, and it is not right that he suddenly, without more consideration, be thrown out on the street. I think they should first have warned him.
The men who framed the stock thefts report are thoroughly qualified to deal with the matter. One of their recommendations is the necessity of putting into effect the spoor law. If you could get the hearty co-operation of headmen in the native areas it would be the most effective and economic way of dealing with stock thefts. But, unfortunately, they are underpaid and, perhaps, are not appointed with proper discrimination. If the responsibilities of headmen were increased and they held their positions subject to giving satisfaction, and if they set their faces against criminality, these stock thefts could not possibly be carried, on. Another point very strongly urged in the report was the undue leniency often shown to Europeans convicted of stock thefts. In many cases Europeans organize these thefts, the natives being merely their tools. It is urged that severer punishment should be meted out to European stock thieves. A young man was found guilty of stealing 270 sheep, and escaped with a fine of £100. That is preposterous. I could cite many other cases. I have sympathy with a man who steals because he is underfed. I would almost sooner punish his employer. But this type are fortunately very rare. An example should, however, be made of men who make a trade of driving off large numbers of stock. I do not think we need employ any more police than we have got. It is a question of administration. We have got the force if they are properly administered. I suggest that the Minister should take notice of this recommendation of experienced polite officers and experienced farmers.
I should like to take advantage of the opportunity to point out to the Minister the great need there is at Losberg for police protection. There are thousands of natives on the land of companies and theft of stock is the order of the day. Fochville is one of the little villages in that division and it is very unfair that the Minister has not yet established a police station there. At Belverdeen, too, there is great need for a police station.
I should also like to bring a few points to the notice of the Minister. As a farmer who lives on the borders of Basutoland I can assure the Minister that stock thefts there are very serious and therefore I cannot refrain from calling the Minister’s attention to the matter. Hon. members have spoken about patrols. The patrols in the day time practically are useless. The patrols come to the farmers and ask if they have any complaints and the answer usually is “no.” It will be much better if the patrols go out at night even if they do not then go out so often. Thieves and robbers go out at night and the patrols should also go out at night to catch them. Then I should like to say something further about the difficulties between the farmers and the police. The police complain about it that the farmers report when stock is lost but that they do not report when it is recovered, and that this makes the work of the police very difficult so that often they become despondent. I think the Minister should do something to compel the fanners to also notify the police when they recover their stock.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
The Minister will be surprised at receiving so many complaints on this vote. The police have also asked me to bring the matter of uniform to the notice of the Minister. They complain that the uniform is much too warm in the summer. It is almost intolerable to then have to wear buttoned up tunics then the helmets. They say that these are visible a long way off and that they are recognized from afar when they go out to do detective work among natives. I further want to direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that a considerable number of the cattle and sheep stolen, are stolen by people who carry on a trade in them. Perhaps the Chairman will rule me out of order but I just want to say that I am convinced that there are only two punishments any good for stock theft. The first punishment must be five years and the second, the death penalty.
I want to deal with the various matters that have been raised. Thy hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) discussed the question of taking over the corporation police at Maritzburg and Durban. As far as the Maritzburg corporation are concerned, they approached the Government with a request to take over the police but Durban have not yet done that. I have instructed the Commissioner of Police when dealing with Maritzburg, to write to the Durban corporation and ask them whether they are also prepared to take the same lines as the Maritzburg corporation. As far as the men who are employed are concerned, I think it will be in the terms of any arrangement that they are taken over on the same terms as at present, I am speaking of your ordinary police.
Have you not been asked to meet a deputation?
Not yet, or, at any rate, it has not come to my notice. I hope to be in Durban before the end of the year and I will try and meet members of the corporation if they wish to see me. We wont worry about bilingualism and things of that kind. With regard to the water police of Durban their numbers are small and the reason for that, of course, is the ordinary reason that our establishment is not as large as it should be. I believe the corporation police and water police do keep in touch. That is also one of the matters which we shall be able to rectify when the police are taken over at a later stage.
*Other members have asked for more police posts. It is of course a question of staff. The fact is that we wanted to put a further amount of £60,000 on the estimates but the amount was taken off by the department of finance and therefore I must manage with the staff that I have. Where police posts are unnecessary they are of course abolished and in their place another post that is required can be established. Perhaps it may be possible in certain departments of the police to effect economy. That is one of the matters into which I will go during the recess and any economy that is possible will of course be used to increase the staff and not only the staff but also the number of dogs. It was actually not necessary for hon. members to point out to me the necessity of police dogs because nearly every week I received special reports from commissioners of police about this or that clever piece of work by the dogs. I am to a certain extent tired of the dogs, so many reports are received by me. But there is no doubt about it that the dogs have done excellent work. The difficulty is the training of the dogs which must, of course, be done by experts. I also believe that the dogs are going to be of great importance in the future in connection with the prevention of stock diseases. Then as regards punishments. The friends of the farmers always say that severe punishments should be inflicted but in every case where a white man is convicted for stock theft the farmers have immediately been prepared to sign a petition for his release. Not in a single district where a white man was convicted of sheep or stock theft and got nine months or a year were the white population not immediately prepared to file a petition for the release of the man. Is it the intention to only apply it to natives? But I shall see what measures can be taken to prevent stock thefts. Of course to a great extent it is also another question of staff and dogs and therefore ultimately it comes down again to “money” and I must economise on other things to be able to do anything more.
The hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) has referred to one of the recommendations of the commission, namely, that a mobile force of detectives should be used in connection with sheep stealing and sent from district to district. That is a matter which one has to consider in connection with the question of a sufficient staff to deal with such matters. The hon. member also raised the question of married quarters for the police and of quarters condemned and not replaced. There again, that is also a matter in which the police department does its best to obtain an amendment to the present position. They are endeavouring, as far as possible, to supply married quarters wherever necessary, and where quarters are condemned, they try to get them replaced with new ones; but you must have the treasury agreeing to vote the money for such quarters. Our requirements are always in excess of the amount allocated to ourselves from time to time. The result is we are pressing the whole time for the different quarters that hon. members have mentioned but we cannot obtain them all because we cannot obtain the money with which to build them. I can assure hon. members that our attention to the comfort of the men is unremitting. A question was also raised by the hon. member in regard to the extraneous duties performed by the police. That is one of the matters that is generally lost sight of. I have had this prepared showing two columns of duties performed by the police in connection with other departments. It means that a large portion of their time is necessary for doing this extraneous work; but I do not think we can make any improvement because the work is done much more cheaply by the police than it could be done by increasing the staffs in the different departments. If you did that, you would probably have overlapping and the work would be more expensive, so although it takes away a considerable part of the efficient force of the police I think it is necessary that the work should be done by the police because it is done more cheaply by them. That should also be borne in mind when persons say the police do not do all their work and do not do it sufficiently well. The hon. member for Klip River (Mr. Anderson) raised the question of men detailed for police work in Natal, and stated that men are not recruited for the police in Natal. If men apply in Natal, they are treated in the same way as men in other parts of the country. I have not been able to find, from my department, that there is any embargo on men from Natal. We have recruited them from there in the past, and if they make application, they are treated in the same manner as men in the other provinces. But that Natal men should be taken on for service in Natal itself is not a proposition that I can agree to. No man enlisted in the police is enlisted in the service for a particular part of the country, and men enrolled in the South African police must be ready to be sent to, and do work in, any part of the country.
The hon. member for Victoria West (Mr. du Toit) has spoken about the police posts and has said that a police constable ought to be tried by the magistrate and not by commandants. The present practice is in accordance with the police act and we shall have to alter the Act if we want to make an alteration in the practice. Probably we shall find that there is just as much to say against trial by the magistrate as against trial by the commandants. Of course where the police are far away from the commandant there are considerable expenses connected with trial and perhaps this can be regulated better. The men must, however, be tried by an executive officer and they are not always at the same place so that there will be expenses.
The hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) put a suggestion before the committee that local areas should be allowed to tax themselves, or that some option should be given them to tax themselves, for an increase in the police staff in those areas. That suggestion has not been placed before me previously, but seems one worthy of inquiry. I will have to consider the pros, and cons, and, after having a report on the matter, I will go into it.
*The hon. member for Beaufort West (Mr. E. H. Louw) has spoken about a superfluity of dogs or that the police force is top heavy. This is of course a matter which must be carefully looked into. If it is so then it means that we can extend the staff in the same proportion as we assist the other position. It is, of course, my duty to investigate the position. If we compare the present position of the police with the time when they were under the magistrates we see that it is more complicated. But I will not say that I am in favour of going back to the old system. The hon. members for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) and Albany (Mr. Struben) mentioned the matter that the punishments for stock theft are not severe enough.
The judges make the same complaint.
All that I can say is that the last Act was drawn up by a practical farmer, namely, by the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw). He has practical experience and he naturally knows what is best. But I do not think that it is possible for me to make a promise that I will raise the punishments. The programme of legislation that I have already promised will be sufficient for the next two years and this makes it impossible for me to make further promises of introducing legislation. If it is possible I will do so.
The hon. member for Albany (Mr. Struben raised the point, in connection with natives who were habitual stock thieves, that these natives should be placed in penal labour colonies. At an earlier stage in the debate, the question was being discussed, in a friendly way, of placing first offenders in labour colonies, and now we are coming to the position of doing the same with habitual criminals, and the point arises what are we going to do with our police? I am not quite certain, but I am inclined to think that your habitual stock thief should properly be dealt with along the lines of an indeterminate sentence. I doubt whether any great good would be obtained by placing him in a labour colony. I would rather have these colonies more for your first offenders than habitual offenders. The prison does not seem to be the right place for the latter. The hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) raised the question of the pay of the police. I think hon. members will agree with me that the trouble in connection with pay is that, after ail, taking our population in this country, we are spending a lot of money on the police. You want your pay to be of such a nature that your policeman can live properly.
And not be too open to temptation.
You must, of course, take into consideration what weight your country can bear, and points of this kind I have discussed with the members of the police force, and I will do so again, but we have to be very careful indeed before we increase the burden on the country in connection with your police. Two and a half million pounds is a very substantial amount, even if we consider the extraneous duties performed by the police.
You must avoid the danger of getting into debt.
But there is also the danger of the men who pay the taxes getting into debt. The hon. member rised the question of increments, and I think I should deal with that. At one time the position taken up—and I think it was the correct position—was that your increment is not a matter of right, but a reward given for proper services during the year. That is quite true, but at one time the increment seems to have been withheld very lightly—if a man committed some trivial offence. I will not say it was automatically withheld, but very lightly withheld At a later stage, the question of one or two trivial offences was not considered sufficient warrant for the withholding of the increment; but the general conduct of the mail was taken, and the increment withheld, if there was a report from the officer that he could not recommend the increment. We have changed that, during the last few months in this way:—that the increment will automatically be given unless the officer is prepared to report that the man should not obtain his increment. It turns round the onus of proof. The old position was this: The increment was granted if there was a report that the man should get it, but now the increment will take place automatically unless there is a report that he should not receive it. There is a further safeguard in the shape of an appeal to the Minister, which did not figure in the previous regulation. I have endeavoured to see that if an increment is withheld it is because of general conduct, and not because of one or two small lapses from the highest point of efficiency If the general conduct is good the increment will be given, even if a man has had a couple of small fines of 10s. or £1. I largely agree on the point of military titles in the police. I suppose this is a heritage from the way in which the police force has grown up. I would prefer only such titles as commissioner, sub-commissioner, inspector, head-constable, and so on, and I will endeavour to see if we cannot get to that in course of time. I suppose it is too late to abrogate these titles so far as the present incumbents are concerned. The reason why these titles have been used is to give the men in the police force the same relative seniority as officers in the defence force when they act together, but that difficulty could be overcome by laying it down that an inspector was of equal rank with a major or something of that sort.
What about military training?
A certain amount of military training is necessary, especially in this country, although it may be overdone. The police force will always be required to do, at all events, some military duty, so we wish to keep their efficiency at a fairly high standard, and therefore a considerable amount of discipline is necessary. The amount of discipline may be overdone in certain parts, but it is difficult to secure a happy mean. You don’t want laxity to creep into your police force, which is your first line, and it is necessary that the first line should be as strong as possible.
*The hon. member for Wodehouse (Mr. Vermooten) and other members have complained about the accommodation for the police and about stock theft on the border. Well, the housing is of course again a matter of money. We always press for proper housing and proper quarters for the men in the service. But at the moment we must do the best we can with the available means.
With regard to the point mentioned by the hon. member for Worcester (Mr. Heatlie), we admit that our construction programme always lags behind requirements; if we did all that is necessary the country would not face the expenditure. Therefore we deal with the most urgent matters first, and try to get as much as we can out of a reluctant Treasury.
This is one of the most urgent matters.
Every member will say that of his own constituency.
*The hon. member for Albert (Mr. Steytler) brought up the matter of unsympathetic treatment of constables by officers, and also spoke about the uniform. As regards unsympathetic treatment, I hope that the difficulty will solve itself. I think that, in general, such a complaint is not justified. It is probably only in exceptional cases that unsympathetic treatment has occurred. If any special case is brought to my notice I will go into it. I will certainly go into various matters more fully than has been done in the past. As regards uniform this is a matter which is brought under my notice from time to time, but the reports that. I have received all say that the uniform we now have is the most effective. The closed collar is necessary, and is in use in all countries in the world. During commotions and conflicts a man should have as little possibility of gripping the police as may be, and an open collar always gives more opportunity of gripping than a closed one. The open collar will be torn open and, in this way, it will cost the State money. The summer uniform is, of course, also a matter which immediately causes expense. I shall go into these matters from time to time, and when I find that it is necessary, and that the question of expenditure is not insuperable, then I will adopt them. The hon. member for Losberg (Mr. Brits) has asked for a more effective police post. Hitherto, every Minister has been appealed to every year for it, and over and above this, the Minister of Justice is written to about it about six times a year. There is a police post close by, and the reports say that the provision there is sufficient. I will go into the matter again and see if I can do anything.
May I direct the attention of the Minister of Justice to another episode in the career of his administration. The Minister has issued many circulars, and I would like to call attention to his latest circular, issued on June 18th. which states—
Hon. members know the old adage about there being more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream. This circular is going to press very unjustly and unfairly on a certain section of the police force.
The Dutch section?
Both the English and the Dutch.
Then it is equal treatment.
I will take the case of a Dutch constable who has to take down a statement in English, and who has to report in English, and also the case of an English constable who takes down a statement in Dutch, and has to send a report thereon to the department in Dutch. Does my hon. friend not understand, until you have a perfectly qualified bilingual staff in both languages, it will be unfair to the force whether English or Dutch-speaking. It may be easy to take down a statement in the language it is made, but it may be difficult to send in a full report in the same language. If they could use either language, it might be done much more efficiently. It appears to me to be a desire to issue another circular like the circular he issued before and withdrew in time.
My hon. friend is wrong in saying I withdrew or modified any circular I have issued.
The Prime Minister did then.
With regard to this instruction, it is simply this: Take the case of an Afrikaans-speaking constable, who goes to an Englishman in the country and takes a statement in English. It is unfair to write it down in Dutch, and then expect the English farmer to sign the Dutch version, which he does not understand although the Afrikaans have had to do it thousands of times. If the policeman who takes it understands the language sufficiently to write it down, then he understands it sufficiently to make his report in the same language. Surely that must be so if a man knows enough to take it down, he can report it in English to his superior officer. It speaks for itself. If he does not understand it, he will not try to take it down.
What if he cannot understand it?
Then he will not take the statement down at all. There is nothing in the circular to compel a man to understand Dutch if he does not understand Dutch. Even this Government cannot do that. I must say I have never heard a more puerile objection than in this particular instance.
I can quite agree with the circular in so far as it stipulates that a statement which is made in English or Afrikaans by a person should be recorded in that language. But we should be careful about making it compulsory for them to make their report in that language. The largest part of the police is young men who have parsed Standard VI, and they cannot write such reports in both languages.
Not after Standard VI?
No, they are not able to do it. They will not be able in the Transvaal to do it in English. If one dictated it to him he would make many mistakes, à fortiori than if he had to compose it himself? Let him take down the statement in the language in which it is made, but let him prepare the report in the language which he knows best. This will get hundreds of Afrikaans-speaking policemen into great difficulty.
I knew nothing about the circular, but I must say that it is the best piece of news that I have had for a long time. I will mention one case. A young Afrikander policeman came to me, and I made an Afrikaans statement to him which he took down in English. He then gave it to me to read, and I had to tell him that it did not represent my statement. The whole spirit was altered. It must be a very good linguist who can at once translate a statement into another language, so that it represents the spirit and contents of it exactly. Therefore it is necessary that it should be taken down in the language in which it is made. The same applies to English. The meaning of the statement may possibly be entirely altered when it comes into the court. The circular is fair to English and Afrikaans-speaking people, and if the police cannot carry it out, then a change must be made.
If the regulation is that a policeman must take down a charge in the language in which it is given, the hon. member knows it is equally unfair to the member of the police force who was either Afrikaans speaking or English speaking. The hon. member knows there is a difference between making a report to a superior officer and taking down a statement. I should have thought, in the interest of justice, that although he takes a statement in the language it is given, he would be more capable to make his general report on the case in the language he best understands. Article 137 of the Act of Union says there shall be equal rights for both official languages, and nobody shall be penalized for a lack of knowledge of either language. If a policeman is capable of taking a statement in Afrikaans and it was an important case, and the superior officer demanded a report on the case, and the constable was compelled to make the report in Dutch, he might not be able to do that thoroughly, and it might be used as a means of preventing his promotion, or retiring him from the service. There are many young policemen whose mother tongue is Afrikaans, but who could take a statement in English, but if it was an important case, they would not be nearly so well able to express themselves in their report to a superior officer in English as in Afrikaans. It works both ways. Hon. gentlemen are so prejudiced on questions of this sort, that there is little use in applying to their ideas. Were I in the police force and had to take a statement in Dutch, I should take it in such a way that it could be read and understood. That is a different thing to my writing a case out in Dutch to my superior officer. All I can say is, I consider it an ill-advised thing to do in the interests of justice and in the interests of the police force themselves, whether English speaking or Dutch.
I just wish to say to my friend opposite there (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) that I congratulate him that all the head constables in the Transvaal understand Afrikaans. My experience in the Cape Province is that it is very difficult here to find a head constable that knows both languages. My experience is that the ordinary constables are nearly all bilingual but the head constables, sub-inspectors, inspectors and commissioners in the Cape Province almost without exception speak only English. I am certain that not five per cent. of the head constables in the Cape Province know Dutch. At a place not far from Cape Town in my constituency up to last year I always heard complaints that the head constable who was in charge there always said that he need not know Afrikaans, and did not learn Afrikaans, and the evidence of a Dutch speaking man had to be recorded in English and signed by the man. I think the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) exaggerates a little when he says that all the head constables in the Transvaal know Afrikaans. As for the ordinary constable in the Cape Province they can nearly all draw up a report in both languages and take down a statement in both languages.
I am sure that, even with the best intention in the world the Minister, if he considered this matter carefully, will satisfy himself that this is an order which cannot possibly be generally carried out. In a large number of cases it can and no doubt where it can be carried out the Minister is quite right in saying that it should be. But it is really useless issuing a general order and sending it forth throughout the length and breath of the law that this thing must be done when you know beforehand that in many cases it’s an impossibility. Take the Minister’s departmental report now before the House (page 8) and you will see that it states under the heading of “Natal”—
Now that is a very serious admittance to have to make to this House. I have discussed the reasons for this with the Minister and I am sure when we get together and we get a grip of the reasons why there is this serious crime a change will have come over the position and we shall probably be able to bring about an improvement, and one of the outstanding reasons for the existence of this serious crime in Natal is that we have there a large number of police who do not understand the native, his language or his customs. When you have that state of things it just gives the native an opportunity of committing crime with a fair amount of certainty that he is not going to be convicted. I have discussed this with the Minister and I hope that he realizes the position. Now, if you require that the depositions, the charge or whatever it is shall be taken down in the language in which it is made, what is going to happen in the case of a policeman who does not understand Zulu or the Indian languages and has a very indifferent command of English? What language is he going to take it down in? What kind of a report is he going to send in, and what kind of justice is going to result therefrom? I understand from the Minister that he means this order to be carried out as far as possible, but, if he is going to insist that it shall be a hard and fast order, then I say it cannot be done, and efficiency and injustice both to the individual member of the force and the public are going to result therefrom.
I do not believe that there can be anybody who can say that it is not desirable that what the Minister says in his circular should be carried out. I agree with the hon. member for Barberton (Mr. Rood) that if a statement is made in one language it requires a clever man to write it down in another language so that in every respect the sense of the statement made is given. But on the other hand I am afraid that the circular of the Minister will be abused and that it will cause trouble with his own people. I will say why. We know that a number of people in our country are bilingual and that it is the same to them whether they make a statement in English or Afrikaans. Then comes a policeman who is not quite au fait with one language. Suppose he is particularly weak in Dutch. Then people will abuse the circular and demand that the statement should be recorded in Dutch seeing the man is bilingual and it can be done just as well in English. I hope that the Minister will slightly amend the circular so that it says that if the person makes the statement in English or Afrikaans, that the official then, if possible, shall take down the statement in that language. We must not give the public an opportunity of abusing a policeman who is not quite au fait with a language. While the hon. member for Ceres was talking something occurred to me that took place in a certain village. I know the police constable well. He is a smart chap and has been many years in the service but he is not very strong in English. He arrested a group of boys and they spoke in English to him and one after the other said that they had not done it. Then the policeman said—
Now, if anybody makes a statement in English, how can he report it in English? Therefore while I agree that it is right I think the Minister should not make it obligatory because otherwise he will get the policemen who are weak in one language into trouble.
I am afraid that the Minister’s circular is based on a fallacy. It lays down the doctrine that a man who is able to take down a statement in one language or the other must necessarily be able to make a report in that language. Surely, that is a hopeless fallacy.
I think that is the fallacy.
I will test it. I will take a man of intelligence like the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs who understands a certain amount of Dutch, and who is quite competent to take down a report in Dutch, and I will guarantee that he will make no report of the proceedings in Dutch. I do think that this circular is going to create great hardship to both the English and Dutch-speaking members of the force. I repeat I will take a capable Minister like the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, or the Minister of Defence, or the Minister of Agriculture, and I will guarantee, for example, that the Minister of Agriculture can take down any statement in good English but he would find great difficulty in making an adequate report on a complicated subject in that language. If the principle is to be laid down that no report is to be valid unless taken down in the language in which it is made, how are you going to deal with all the native territories and the reports and statements made by natives? There, at once, the principle falls away. I quite agree that it is in the interests of justice that a man who makes a report should have it taken down in his very words. I think, as the police force is constituted at present the bulk are competent to take down a statement in the language in which it is made.
It has not been done.
If it is not done, I think the sooner members of the police force are competent to take down a statement in the language in which it is made, the better, but I do not think the pace should be unduly forced. We are all aiming at a complete bilingual service but I do not think that time is yet. I think this is going to create hardship on the policemen of both races. I think it will interfere with the course of justice. I can imagine the pointed remarks from the bench when some of these reports come before the magistrates and the poor policeman has to say—
It reminds me of the young policeman who was sent to see a dead horse in Buitengracht Street and he told the man to move it into Long Street as he couldn’t spell “Buitengracht.” I can visualize a policeman right up in a Dutch-speaking district when an Englishman comes along and he has to make a report in English; or when in Zululand a young English policeman has to take down a report in Dutch. You will find it will obstruct the course of justice. This circular is uncalled for. We all hope to see the day, and speedily, when we will have a completely bilingual service, but the Minister should not force the pace to the extent of penalizing deserving members of the force. To-day the bulk of the members of the police force are Dutch-speaking South Africans; 90 per cent. of the privates of the force are Dutch-speaking.
There is one thing, at all events, and that is I cannot be accused of racialism here.
You people are obsessed with racialism.
I am trying to prove that in this case, at all events, no one has accused me of that. I am very well satisfied, and for the rest I will adhere to it.
I am surprised at the Minister. He is apparently so pleased at being able at last to make a statement devoid of the taint of racialism that he is boasting about it. It is such an obsession of the hon. gentleman across the way that anything we say is flavoured with racialim that it is becoming absurd. We have never once looked at this circular from the racial point of view.
I was very glad to accept your statement.
The Minister jumped up in great glee—
In the minds of the Opposition.
I must congratulate the Minister on at last being able to make a statement that does not smack of racialism. Why he should make this uncalled-for interjection I do not know. Here is a circular which is going to cause very serious hardship and injustice to members of the police force, very largely the Dutch-speaking members. About 90 per cent. are Dutch-speaking. Is that not so?
The Dutch-speaking members are mostly bilingual.
By Dutch-speaking I mean those whose mother-tongue is Dutch. I would be glad to think everyone of them is bilingual in the sense that he can make a report in either language. They are drafted straight off the farms; they make excellent policemen and they know both languages after a maimer. There are a great many members of this House —for example, the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) who can follow both languages quite easily.
He can speak them quite well too.
Writing a report is an entirely different thing.
I do not think the right hon. member would be able to write a complicated report in Dutch. Take the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan). He can follow Dutch quite well; he can also speak it, but he could not draft a report in Dutch. Here we have right through this House quite a number of members on both sides who are able to take down a statement in one language but certainly could not make a report in both languages. If a large percentage of members of Parliament are unable to do what the Minister is demanding from these unfortunate young policemen, I think he should realize that this circular, if not withdrawn, should at any rate be modified.
I have been listening to this debate, Mr. Chairman—
Could you make a report in Dutch?
I could not report the hon. gentleman, anyhow, except to report him to his superior officer, and of course that would be useless. I have been listening to the discussion, and I have had an opportunity, through the courtesy of the leader of the Opposition, of reading a circular, from which it certainly seems to me that the Minister of Justice has put a rather heavy tax on the majority of policemen. And I am afraid it is more than a heavy tax; it is likely to lead to a considerable amount of confusion. More than that, it is likely to lead to a tremendous amount of in justice to the police themselves. I have been examining the circular as fairly as I possibly can. I cannot be accused of racial bias or opposition to the party in power or opposition to the Minister of Justice personally, and I have come to the conclusion that the Minister has rather missed what is likely to be almost the direct result of this circular. I have been trying to place myself in the position which the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has been asking us to do, and to say how I would act if, having taken down a statement, I have to forward my report upon it, and the surrounding circumstances, in the same language in which I have taken down the statement. It would be quite easy for me, not knowing a word of Dutch, to take down a statement in Dutch, because I would be correcting the statement as I went along, with the assistance of the person making the statement. I would say: What word is that? How do you spell it, please? And I would put it down. My point is that a man, having the time at his disposal, taking down a statement in a language which to him is largely foreign, would be able to take that statement down with the assistance of the person making it, especially as the man who is making the statement is going to sign it, and would make sure that it was correct. That is, I believe, simple; but when I have got to sit down and consider the statement, and draw up a report embodying the statement, and my opinion of it, and the surrounding circumstances, I find myself in a very different pair of shoes. I should be hopelessly confused, and there are many Dutchmen who might be able to speak English, who might be able to take down a statement in English dictated to them, who would find the utmost difficulty in giving the true significance of that statement and of the circumstances, and sending it to his superior officer. He is more likely to become confused and make mistakes when he realizes how much depends upon the correctness of his report on the statement. I think, that has to be taken into consideration. Would it not be far better if the man were to take down the statement in the language in which it is dictated to him, and be allowed to make his comments in the language with which he is acquainted. If you expect the ordinary policeman to be bilingual, have you not the right to expect his superior to be bilingual and to understand exactly what the policeman is driving at? That is where the pinch is; because he is setting the pay and has the responsibility. With all due respect to the Minister of Justice, I think there is a tremendous amount in the remarks from the other side, and I do not look upon them as conceived in any racial spirit. The calm way in which it has been put and the evident anxiety for the true interests of the police force. I coincide with, and I think the Minister would be well advised to reconsider the position and make an efficient bilingual police force in the manner I have indicated.
I think that, from the point of view of the proper administration of justice, the Minister is on sound lines; for it is very necessary that any declaration in regard to any criminal charge should be taken down in the language in which it is given. For some time past the magistrates have had instructions that, whenever evidence is given in a court of law, they have to take down the evidence in the language in which it is given. That is a very sound doctrine; but the Minister will know that in many cases this cannot be carried out. Many magistrates are unable to do this, and if the Minister will only carry out the circular in the spirit in which the instruction is carried out in regard to the magistrates, I think it will occasion no difficulty or hardship; but if the letter of the circular is carried out, I am afraid it is going to prejudice a large number of constables—good men, both English and Dutch-speaking—who are unable strictly to carry out and adhere to the circular.
I am in agreement to a certain extent with the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley), but I think one fact has been lost sight of, and that is that the report that is to go to the superior officer does not require to be written on the spot at the same time as the affidavit. That report can very easily be written out by the constable in his mother tongue at the same time as the affidavit, and could be later on translated into proper form. I think it is quite possible that the insistence on this order immediately may occasion some little inconvenience in the administration of the police force; but I think that inconvenience is insignificant compared with the distinct wrongs which might have resulted from the conditions appertaining hitherto, and I think the Minister is taking a right step in going in the direction of compelling his force to qualify equally in both languages, and by compelling them to put into practice the use of both languages as occasion might demand, he is taking the most workmanlike course to attain his object, as, if it is left entirely voluntary as to which language shall be used, they will always conveniently use the mother tongue, the one which is easier to them, and will get very little further with the other tongue. I do not see that the consequences of the adoption of this order are going to be dire, but I can see one beneficial consequence and that is, a very greatly improved efficiency in the use of both languages in the force by both English and Dutch-speaking, no matter what the language is of the majority of the people in the various areas.
I hope the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen) is practising the doctrine he has expounded to the House. If he is burning the midnight oil in translating his speeches into Dutch. I hope it will not be long before we shall hear him deliver a speech in Dutch.
But he, is not in the police.
There are other people who have not the command of both languages. The police are very much in the position of a large number of our scab inspectors. I have had to go through very many of these inspector’s reports. When a scab inspector inquired into a case and found it necessary to report to the Agricultural Department, when he was dealing with an English farmer many of these inspectors wrote their reports to the Department in Dutch, because Dutch was their mother tongue, and in writing an explanation of the case they used the language with which they were most familiar. Reports came in in English and Dutch. Common sense will tell the ordinary members of this House that, if they can take down a statement in either language, if they have to write a report—very often of a technical nature—they would prefer to write it in the language they know best, rather than in a language which was practically foreign to them. It is a self-evident fact, and it is unfortunate that in questions of this character any other consideration should weigh than those which are in the best interest of the service and the force. I realize the importance of everyone in this country trying to familiarize themselves with both languages, but the Minister will not help by measures of this description. People will do things voluntarily that they will not do if they are forced upon them. I remember when this question was discussed at the National Convention, the late President Steyn said—
How many years ago was that?
That was the spirit that animated that great statesman, and I am sorry that spirit does not animate all the members of this House. I am pleading for the sake of the efficiency of the police force. I feel perfectly certain that it is not in the interests of justice that a circular should be issued demanding that a policeman, in writing out a report for his department, should be prevented from writing that report in the language with which he is most familiar and can best express himself.
I hope the Minister’s reasons for issuing the circular are better founded than the reasons given by the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen), who told us that these policemen, who could not speak the language in which a report might be made to them, could spell it out afterwards, and compile a report upon it with the aid of a dictionary. It is the very crux of a police report that it should be made on the spot in the language in which the police officer is best able to do it. If a policeman has to spell out a report with the aid of a dictionary, he will miss out all the important details, and the interests of justice will suffer, for while the policeman is concentrating on preparing a correct translation, the correctness of the report itself may suffer. The hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) interjected that the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen) was not a policeman. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that we should ask for a higher standard of efficiency from a policeman than we require from members of this House. What will happen in an outlying district where, say, a murder is committed? fake a young Dutch-speaking policeman who is not fully bilingual. The Minister admitted in circular No. 10 that the police force is not efficiently bilingual. The report is made to the policeman in English or Dutch; he is able to take it down in the language in which it was made to him, but is unable to make a report on the affair in the language in which the statement was made to him. What is going to happen if this young policeman puts down his pen and says—
And then he does not send in a report. In order to take down a statement in the language in which it was made, and to be able to make his comments on that statement in that language, a man must be efficiently bilingual. The police will become bilingual if we go about it in the right way, we know how crimes are reported in outlying districts. An excited man or woman comes in and makes a statement, and the policeman has to accompany his informant to the scene of the crime and make investigations and follow the criminal’s tracks before he can report on the statement. Now the policeman makes his investigation, and it may be the report is many pages in length, and it may be an important feature of the investigation and the most important feature in bringing the culprit to justice. What is going to happen in that case, and what is going to happen to the policeman? How is the criminal going to be dealt with if the policeman cannot make the report in the same language as the statement is made? Supposing he says—
Let me show the Minister another reduction ad absurdum of this. The policeman takes the report in the language it is made, and writes the report in the same language, and sends it to his superior officer. We know we have unilingual superior officers, magistrates and judges. The policeman having complied with the circular and having made the statement and report in the same language, it has to be re-translated into the other official language for the magistrate, judge or superior officer. That position will fairly often arise, and it will be the case in a large number of cases. Can I state a better example of reduction ad absurdum in the matter. Again, say a young English policeman is sufficiently bilingual. A crime is reported in Dutch and he is able to make the statement and the report in Dutch. It goes to the magistrate and the magistrate says to him—
I thought the Dutch-speaking constables were going to be handicapped the most.
I think the Dutch-speaking policeman will be prejudiced the most. But I am now giving a special case, and the Minister will find there will be a large number of this kind. What would happen if two witnesses came along in regard to a crime. We have an efficiently bilingual policeman and he takes the statement of one witness in English. Along comes another man, he can only speak Dutch, and he says to the policeman—
The policeman would get two reports in two different languages, which is reducing the thing to an absurdity. The same policeman would have to send one report in English and a Dutch report in the other case.
If he deals with the whole case he can choose either language.
That is the absurdity of it. Why cannot he do that in any case? [Time expired.]
I have experience of this sort of thing in my part of the country. We have Dutch constables who are transferred to the Transkei who have not had a very liberal education and they go to the native clerks-in-charge and ask them to transcribe their report in English to send to the superior officer. It seems to me the Minister of Justice must realize he is Minister of Justice and not Minister of bilingualism in this country. However ardent he is to further bilingualism, he is not keener than I am, because I believe it is necessary to have every man speaking English and Dutch, as I believe the two races will sympathize with and understand each other when they speak each other’s language. He must remember he is Minister of Justice. Whatever statements are taken down is it not one of the first rules that justice must be done? If an officer is not able to make a statement in the particular language in which it is given he should take it in the language which he understands. I have known magistrates taking dying statements from natives who have had to get interpreters. It is understood in law that they can take the statement in the language which they understand. We must look at the thing from the broadest aspect. We must allow the police to take the statements in the language the declarant has spoken but once he has taken the statement it is in the interests of justice he should be allowed to make his report in the language he finds most useful to his pen. Otherwise the Minister of Justice must come here and say to this House—
I say the Minister must divorce himself from that particular aspect and he must realize that this is not a country of two languages only, but a country of a dozen languages.
A country of two official languages.
Does the Minister say that because a constable takes a declaration down in kafir, we will say, and transcribes that into the English or Dutch language, that justice is better served? Does he not think, looking at the true interests of justice, that the statement should be taken down in kafir, the language in which it was made?
I want to reply to a question which was put to me by an hon. member just now. It seems to me that it was a perfectly absurd, almost an inane question, for this reason, that a policeman is employed to do certain work, and he has got to have certain qualifications to do that work. If a commercial man wants an accountant, he does not take a man who is a good salesman and vice versa. You do not employ a policeman because he is a first-class valet or a good groom. The work of a policeman is to make himself efficient in the duties that he has to carry out amongst the public. This is the year 1925, and it was in 1910 when the provinces were merged and this matter of the equality of the two languages became a decisive one and I think every man who has been looking forward to a career in the police has had an opportunity of qualifying. The effect of this circular is just this, that a policeman is either going to prove an efficient policeman or an inefficient policeman. If this House will assure me now in 1925 that in 1940, we will say, the highest position in this House will be open to me if I become bilingual, I will make it my business to be bilingual by 1940. The policeman’s profession, does not demand such a galaxy of accomplishments that the learning of the other language than the mother tongue becomes an impossibility. The question put to me entirely loses its force, I think, and I can see no hardship whatever. I think that the Minister in issuing this instruction has taken a very wise course. It is going to make it obvious beyond doubt to members of the police force that if they are to get, on in the profession they have chosen they have got "to become proficient, and with perseverance on the lines laid down in that circular they will eventually become proficient.
It is very unfortunate that the time of the House is wasted in this way. Here is a matter being discussed in which there is nothing. In this circular it is provided that two languages must be used in the country at the proper time, and it is something which should have been done in 1910. If hon. members opposite had done it then we should not have had all this trouble to-day. They are the cause of it. In Johannesburg the police have no trouble in recording the statements in both languages. I do not know the country side so well but I think that the police can do the same there. If a man does not know Afrikaans then he will get assistance. They always arrange amongst themselves to get through although they do not know two languages, even the magistrates. Why are the members now obstructing so to keep us here? We surely want to go home and I wish we could sit right through the night to make an end to this sort of thing.
Can the hon. member say that we are obstructing?
The hon. member may not do it and he must withdraw.
Well, I willingly withdraw but I want to say that hon. members must not detain the House so. They cannot deny it that they are doing it. I want to bring another thing to the notice of the Minister because I did not have an opportunity to do so before. It is the difficult circumstances in which the Johannesburg police perform their duty. There is an Act that the natives must be removed out of the town. That has however not yet taken place. There is also an Act that with a special pass they can stop out the whole night. Irresponsible people give them such passes or they write them out themselves. And it is those natives who commit the crime of burglary. I hope that the Government will apply the Act so that the natives shall be removed from the town. Then the police also tell me that there are natives who have not had a pass for two years. The Minister must instruct them to visit all the natives in the locations so that they can find out who are not provided with passes. We shall then see who causes all the great troubles and we shall be able to arrest them.
I would very much like to know whether it is the intention of the Minister to put into effect the recommendation of the select committee which sat two years ago.
I have considered that.
With regard to the report that has been discussed just recently I would like to say that in the opinion of many of us too much importance is attached to the reports these policemen are required to draw up. I have been told by one of them that it is necessary for them to transcribe their reports on five different sheets. That hangs like a nightmare over many of them. Some of our best policemen are men with very moderate education. This is pushing things too far to require all these men to come up to a certain standard of education. We have excellent men who have grown up in a district and who know local conditions, and these men are pushed out because of their inability to write reports according to official requirements. One of the most capable witnesses who gave evidence before the select committee was a Mr. Parry, a magistrate. He said—to mention an instance of the usual spirit that pervades the police—that he had a discussion with a police officer once about a ‘certain man, and the officer said he was a very good man in tracing crime—in tracing a nigger who had stolen sheep—but was—
so he was no use to them. That is to say, that, although the man was good at recovering lost stock, because he could not make out returns in the office he was discredited. I think we are perhaps pushing this matter too far in requiring a higher qualification for our men, and we are really going to exclude men who do excellent work in the line in which they are expected to do work, that is, in detecting thefts and wrong, wherever it exists. And here it is hanging like a nightmare over the men some of whom spend sleepless nights in order to satisfy some particular officer over them.
I cannot congratulate the Minister on his two champions. Neither was particularly logical. The hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen) once more stated that, after all, a policeman is a servant of the public, and he must be efficiently bilingual; but surely he ought to realize that we, too, are servants of the Public, and the Minister would have as much justification for circularizing this House and saying that in future every member must reply in the language in which the previous speaker spoke, as in issuing a circular of this sort. Surely we are serving the public as much as the police force. I hope the Minister does not think we are making these remarks in any carping spirit, in any sense of trying to catch him out. There is a real feeling in the House, and I do not think it exists only on this side, that this is going to work hardship on the police. I have seen, I think, as much of the police in the outlying districts as any man.
I draw attention to the fact that there is not a quorum.
Committee counted, and the chairman declared that a quorum was present.
I think the Minister will agree that the case I put to him just now was not far-fetched, but will probably happen in five out of ten criminal cases in the country districts. The Minister is a lawyer, and he will admit that it is an untenable position to adopt to say that because there happens to be only one witness of an occurrence the policeman to whom it is reported is tied down to the use of the language in which the statement was made, but when there happen to be two or more witnesses then the policeman has to use his discretion as to which language he will employ in making his report of the occurrence. I think the Minister, with his sane, legal judgment, will see that the case I have put will very frequently crop up, and his own answer shows that he realizes that His position is untenable. I remember the Minister telling us that he had appointed 12 unilingual men in Natal. Say a Dutch farmer, who knows only one language, makes a statement to one of those 12 men in Dutch. I think the Minister will realize that this circular does require overhauling. I am afraid the Minister’s desire to have an efficient bilingual service has outrun, I will not say his zeal, but the administration of justice of his department. I hope we will not need to carry on the discussion any further, for our remarks have been made in a friendly spirit. No party is more desirous to see a thoroughly bilingual service than we are, but I do not think this particular circular will do very much in that direction, and I hope the Minister will agree that there are serious flaws in the circular and that he will modify it.
For some time any provision for women police has ceased to be made in the larger towns. There is a considerable body of opinion which considers that in Cape Town women police served a very useful purpose. If the principles the Minister has explained to the House as guiding his conduct in regulating the detention of criminals are to be carried out, it seems to me that the appointment of women police would rather appeal to him as being a step in consonance with those principles. It may be too late to put any money on the Estimates this year for women police, but if the Minister is interested in the matter he might find time before returning to Pretoria to receive some representations from those interested in the matter, who would be very glad to put before him some solid facts in regard to the appointment of women police in Cape Town, and then I think the Minister will admit that women police have rendered really very valuable assistance, especially in cases to which men cannot do justice.
That position has been placed before the department on various occasions as well as before my predecessor in office and myself. The department of police have a strong feeling against it.
On a point of order there is no quorum and I don’t like the Minister speaking without a quorum.
Committee counted and the Chairman declared that a quorum was present.
That opinion was held by my predecessor in my department but there is a large body of opinion in favour of the position advocated by my hon. friend and I will be pleased if before the termination of the session these representation were made to me because I do not know as much about the matter as those people who had the actual experience in Cape Town during the war. We will try and see how the instruction works out in practice and if it works out badly we can have some alteration or withdraw it.
Is the hon. Minister referring to the circular?
Yes, I don’t think there will be any difficulty. My hon. friends spoke about the clerical work done in the police department. So far as statistics are concerned it seems somewhat complicated and there have been complaints about it. It is one of the matters I am going to see if it can be simplified in some way. There is a great mass of clerical work which has to be done owing to the burdens cast on the department by other departments and I don’t think we shall ever be able to bring it down to a narrow compass. It does prevent them from dealing with their proper work. With regard to stock thefts, I said I would go into the several points of the report of that commission and I will see if I can introduce legislation, but I don’t want to promise new legislation because there is so much on the paper and the passage of law takes so long and the legislation I have mentioned and that promised for next session will take me a few years.
I think the Minister is dismissing the circular in a brusque way. He is sort of—
And in this case the policeman is going to be the dog. If it does not answer, the dog will die but the Minister will be all right. I would like the Minister to answer the cases I put to him. Two witnesses make a statement, one in Dutch and one in English, and the policeman has to make his report in the different languages.
There is only one report surely. It will not be one line of Dutch and one line of English.
That exposes the untenable position. Where there are two witnesses he chooses the languages he puts in. But in the one-witness case he is bound. Where is the principle in this? Surely there must be some rational principle underlying a circular of this kind. Here the language in which the policeman has to make his report is going to be decided, not by the Minister’s circular, but by the number of witnesses that come and make a statement. I would prefer that the Minister, instead of saying that he will wait and see whether it will work, should give me a direct answer on the point.
I have given the answer surely.
That is not an answer; that is evading the whole point. I have asked the Minister the other question: what is going to happen to the administration of justice where a witness comes along and makes a statement to a policeman who is unable to draft the report in the language in which it was made? I could give him a third case, which, I admit, will not happen so often as the two-witness case. Say a witness comes along and makes a statement in both languages. He starts in English and goes on in English for two lines and the rest of the report is in Dutch. In what language is that report to be made by the policeman? The Minister must see that the thing is full of loopholes and weak points and pitfalls. I do wish that the Minister would say to this House—
I am firmly convinced that the Minister, in his own interests and in the interests of his department, would be doing a wise thing if he were to say—
The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) seems to want to champion the police force.
But he is not championing the police force; he is really standing up as champion of the men they imported up to the end of their term of office and trained in the Maitland camp for a month and put the sons of the soil out of their jobs in order to make jobs for these men, who are unilingual. Here at Plumstead you have as head of the detective department a unilingual man. All the public living about there are Dutch-speaking. He does not know a word of Dutch.
How can he carry out the circular then?
He could never carry it out.
That is just my point.
The public has been suffering there for years on this account. Even in my own constituency, which is wholly Dutch-speaking, they have come to recognize that it is the custom that whatever is written down is in English and they have to come and sign their names like good boys. The public also have rights in this matter; they are tax-payers in the country. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) would not sign his name to a promissory note if it was written in French and he could not read it.
As it happens, I could.
The public have got into such a slavish habit of doing it that they think it is for all time. Even the police are tired of it. It is only the few men whom they imported up to the term of their office who will stick up for them. They get the pay, but the other poor devils earn the money.
Vote put and agreed to.
On vote 36, “Irrigation.” £170,133.
I take it I have the right to discuss the Minister’s policy under this vote, because yesterday afternoon, when we started discussing this vote, we decided to go on to the Justice vote first, in order to enable members to discuss the Minister’s policy. While it was temporarily under discussion. I asked the Minister a certain question. This afternoon, in reply to a question by the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) the Minister said he was prepared, under a certain financial Bill, to make provision for the last clause in the report of the Irrigation Finance Committee. I certainly wish to express my thanks to the Minister for going thus far, and I think irrigators will be pleased to hear it, but I think the Minister ought to go still further and introduce a Bill establishing the irrigation board which is so strongly recommended by the Irrigation Finance Commission.
The hon. member cannot now plead for new legislation.
I am discussing the Irrigation Finance Commission’s report.
That does not matter. The hon. member is not entitled under this vote to plead for fresh legislation.
As a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I am just looking through the reports of yesterday, the Hansard report. I asked the question—
Yes, that is so.
The irrigation vote was allowed to stand over. I put that question and you gave the ruling that when we came back to the irrigation vote we would have the opportunity of discussing the whole of the irrigation policy.
As far as policy is concerned, as I said yesterday, the Committee has the full right to discuss it; but I am not entitled, under the rules, to allow any hon. member to plead for new legislation. The right hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) knows that on the Estimates we cannot discuss, say, women’s enfranchisement, or plead for local option or proportionate representation, or any other legislative acts. We cannot plead for new legislation but we can discuss policy.
I know that, but under the expenditure of the Irrigation Department was money expended in connection with the appointment of a commission to inquire into certain matters relating to irrigation. The vote in connection with that commission is before the House and, under the circumstances, is the hon. member not entitled to get from the Minister a full statement of what his views are in connection with that commission’s report, and what steps he proposes to take to carry out the recommendations of the commission.
The hon. member is entitled to ask a question.
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, are we entitled to discuss the advisability of a commission of that sort under this head, without discussing legislation. It is a very important aspect of the irrigation position. Would we be in order in discussing the appointment of a permanent commission?
That would mean legislation, and I am afraid I cannot allow discussion on the point as to what the Minister ought to do as regards new legislation.
Under what head can we discuss that? I think it is possibly the most important factor at the present moment in connection with irrigation, and it is difficult to see where we could discuss it, as this is the first opportunity we have had of discussing irrigation.
The hon. member will have the opportunity, I dare say, when the Speaker is in the Chair; but I am afraid, on the Estimates, you cannot do that.
I must bow to your ruling; but it seems an extraordinary impasse. I am not discussing your ruling; but the general position in the House. Here we are discussing irrigation, and a vote representing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and all this vote is going to be largely influenced by the question as to whether the Minister is for or against a commission to put the irrigation schemes on a proper basis, and although we can discuss the estimates, we cannot discuss this question.
The hon. member may be discussing the rules; but I am not responsible for them.
I am not taking exception to your ruling or to the rules; but could you not devise some way by which we could discuss this matter; because the Minister would be the very first to agree that it is desirable that we should discuss it.
I draw attention to the fact that there is not a quorum.
Committee counted, and the Chairman declared that a quorum was present.
May I ask the Minister whether the salary of this commission is included in these estimates? I am sure the Minister will wish to afford us an opportunity of discussing the matter.
It is not under this vote; I think it is under the Treasury.
Would motor transport cover it?
That is in Vote 9.
That is not of much use now. I hope the committee will realize that we are trying to find a solution in the interests of irrigation itself.
There is nothing on this vote for the commission; all the money is found by the Treasury.
May I then ask, as irrigation is of such an important nature and the House has not yet had an opportunity of discussing it, in what way we can bring irrigation to the notice of the House or of this committee? I do no question your ruling, but I want to know when this important matter can be discussed.
The hon. member could have moved specially or discussed the matter on the general appropriation Bill.
I find under this vote a sum for the Olifants River irrigation works. The Minister will not deny that a commission, of which the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) was chairman, was appointed by the irrigation department to enquire into the whole position in connection with irrigation works and to make recommendations whether it would be advisable to reduce irrigation rates both for Government and district schemes which have borrowed money from the Government, and the Olifants River works comes under this category. We are entitled to know what is the view of the Minister on this matter, and whether it is the intention of the Government to reduce the rates and to take any steps on the advice given by the commission.
The hon. member may ask that question.
That is what the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) wants to ask.
Very well, but no discussion can be allowed on it.
Am I entitled to discuss the commission’s report?
The hon. member may discuss the report so long as he does not advocate fresh legislation.
Even if the report advocates fresh legislation?
The hon. member can ask the Minister whether it is his intention to act on that recommendation.
We feel how essential it is to have a permanent board of irrigation. I am not discussing whether it is appointed with statutory powers or not, but the importance of having a permanent board appointed as soon as possible. Delay in this matter will retard the progress of irrigation very much. In the first instance, the commission recommends, in regard to the rates that are going to be paid, that the Government must not press the farmers who pay their rates until such a board has been established. The Minister has said it is his intention to make provision that the rates shall not be payable now. We want to know whether the Minister cannot go further and appoint a permanent board, which, I take it, is the Minister’s policy, and that it is the policy of the Government to establish such a board. If a board is not appointed there is a likelihood of companies buying the ground under the big irrigation banks. We have two instances, and if they come in and buy the Fish River that will retard the progress of the Fish River Valley to a large extent. We want to get that country settled, and I know the Minister of Lands will support me in this matter. Both the Ministers have been to Cradock and both of them have inspected the Fish River and know the possibilities. Delay for even a year is going to have a very detrimental effect on the irrigation. I feel the powers of the board should not be of such a character that they are absolute, and the board to be appointed should be on a similar basis to the railway board, which is responsible to the Minister and to Parliament, who always have the right of controlling that board. If the board had full control there is danger, because £6,000,000 has been spent on irrigation and it would be a serious matter to take that out of the jurisdiction of Parliament and leave it to the board. It is a huge amount of money which is involved as well as the land which is to be settled. I appeal to the Minister to take the matter into his serious consideration. It is riot a contentious matter, but one on which all sides of the House are agreed. If the Minister delays this, that he has promised in regard to rates, arrests the financial position of these men holding land, but it would retard progress. By putting rates backward you are just merely piling up for the future, and that has the effect of stopping men coming along and buying land for settlement. Men who buy land on the irrigation settlement want to know the position with regard to rates. That is a matter which I feel must be settled as soon as possible. I know the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) will bear me out, and that the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie), who so ably acted as chairman of this commission, will also endeavour to press the Minister and appeal to him to bring forward the establishment of a board of this nature as soon as possible. I can assure the Minister that feeling is running extremely high amongst irrigators along the Fish River Valley and, I suppose, in other parts of the country, too.
What I should like to know from the Minister is what the intention of the department is with reference to the report of the irrigation commission. The hon. Minister will remember that feeling was so strong with regard to the Act of 1912 that strong representations were made to the former Minister of Agriculture to alter the position. He would not listen at first, but later on, he went so far as to appoint a commission consisting of Mr. Lewis and Justices van Zyl. Louwrens and Jeppe. They made a report about the difference between the upper riparian owners and the lower riparian owners, because the rights of the upper owners were taken away by a stroke of the pen. They had no rights to the water which ran past their property unless they had made a claim to it before the water court. The administration in connection with those water courts is very expensive, and the consequence is that the upper riparian owners have to pay a tax of 10d. per morgen on their farm where there are ii ligation works. I want to know what relief the owners can get. I admit that they were to get ten years extension according to the judgment of the water court, but it makes no difference whether he has obtained ten years extension, the costs still have to be paid. The costs of the irrigation works are a heavy burden on the people and also this tax. If it is the intention of the Government to go on in the old way, what is then the use of the whole irrigation department and of the hundreds of people who work in it? Everything is altogether useless. I should also like to know what the Government intend doing with reference to the appointment of a permanent commission with regard to irrigation. The people cannot comply with their obligations and the Fourie commission has recommended that they should not be pressed. But, in the meantime, the people are still recommended to sell the ground. Who will get possession of the ground? It will to the large companies again, and we shall land in the old position. Whether legislation is necessary or not. I hope that the commission will be appointed to get the people out of their troubles. Irrigation is suffering through it, and it is one of the things we cannot do without. I want to urge the Minister to give his attention to these two matters, namely, to legislation to meet the upper owner, and also the people who find it hard to pay the water tax and in connection therewith, to the permanent commission.
As I said in answer to the question, I do not think it is possible to introduce further legislation. I do not think hon. members of the Opposition will complain of that, because their complaint has always been that there is too much legislation. At all events, it is practically impossible to introduce that Bill this session, and the policy of the Government is to introduce legislation the following session providing for a permanent irrigation commission, and probably we will be able to issue a report dealing with certain aspects of the problem, and we will also deal with the question of amending the Irrigation Act in certain respects. I am not prepared to say in what respects it will be amended. I am not prepared to say what we will do in the direction of assisting either the upper owners or the lower owners. The report that has been prepared shows the difficulties of the position, because half reported one way and half the other. I am afraid we cannot go further than that. In a matter of that kind I think we have got to the stage that it is, perhaps, better to deal with your Irrigation Act generally. You will have your permanent commission and will deal with it generally next session, and in the meanwhile we will preserve the status quo by amending the Financial Adjustments Bill. It is part of our policy to have this permanent commission because we feel it is going to do a considerable amount to administer the work, and to assist the House in deciding what schemes should be undertaken, and what expenditure we should indulge in in new construction schemes. As far as I can gauge the feeling, the idea is that powers should not go much further, if at all, than the powers given to the railway boards. I do not wish to bind the Government as to what the exact scope of the powers will be, because it may be that they may be somewhat wider than the powers given to the railway board. My hon. friend here asked what work the staff is doing in the meanwhile, now that there is no special construction on the tapis. That is really a question which largely concerns your loan vote. The loan vote would have to deal with your money which is voted for construction, and the report will show to what extent the staff are required for construction, as against the irrigation work. The fact that there is no construction work does not mean that the work has stopped. Your ordinary administration, your hydrographic survey, boring, etc., continues, and all has to be supervised, but the point of the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet. (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) could more properly be raised under the head of your loan vote. I regret, equally with my hon. friend, that we are not able to introduce that legislation now, because, after all, every month gained is so much solid gain to the irrigators of the country. Unfortunately, I do not see that we can go any further, but we will try to retain the status quo in the Financial Adjustment Bill.
I think my hon. friend will understand that all the members in this House who take an interest in irrigation are deeply interested in this report, and I would like to say that we are very much indebted to the members of this commission for the important facts that they have brought to the notice of those interested in irrigation throughout the country. Your further disappointment is that in certain cases there is an enormous amount of uncertainty as to what the position of the farmers is going to be, and what the policy of the Government in the future is going to be; either in connection with the reduction of rates, or the State taking over a certain proportion of the surplus land and thereby relieving the people of the huge amount of rates. What I think is conceded by hon. members on the other side is that, unfortunately, many of our works were started during a speculative period, when the ostrich was becoming, and when farmers thought it was not necessary to go in for intensive cultivation. There are schemes of from four to nine hundred morgen, and where the rate is £2 or £3 a morgen it is utterly impossible for these people to pay the rate; not because it is excessive per morgen, if intensively cultivated and divided into small holdings, but because the people have not the capital necessary to develop that land, level it, and put it under water furrows. Although a lot of these major works have been expensive, in many instances the most expensive part is the laying down and preparing of the land, and that costs more per acre than the cost of the water. I do not want my hon. friend to go to a large expense in printing the evidence, but would suggest that he lay the typewritten copy of the evidence on the table, so that the report and the evidence might be available to hon. members interested in irrigation. If the Minister placed the evidence on the table we should be very much obliged to him.
That evidence is available, and we will place it on the table.
Thank you very much.
I should like the hon. Minister to tell me what the position is with regard to the irrigation scheme for Bloemfontein (North). The scheme was approved by the Government. There was a commission, and many people have done considerable work and incurred heavy expenses. Now I am told that the Government do not intend to develop this scheme. I, therefore, want to know what the position is.
I have a letter from a firm of water boring engineers, who complain of the unfair competition by Government in boring for water. According to the estimates boring for farmers, including repairs and depreciation of plant, is to cost the country £18,600 this year. The firm complains that the old price for boring was £5 a day, but the Government gives a very considerable rebate. They also state that the Government gives credit, but every firm cannot do that. They do not complain so much about the Government boring for the poorer settlers, but of government drills being used for wealthy landowners who can well afford to pay the ordinary charges. The firm says that if the competition were fair no doubt they could easily compete. Certainly it is not fair to the taxpayers to discourage private boring. Why should the taxpayers have to make a big contribution towards the cost of boring for water, for if water is found the value of the land is increased and the landowner gets the benefit of that, and then he should pay the full price for the drilling. Then the Government cannot meet all the demands that are made to it for the supply of drills, and if a few private men undertook the work the country would benefit. Private firms should be given a fair chance by the Government making a fair charge. The letter from which I have quoted adds that if private contractors are forced out of the business by Government competition they will have to leave the country.
I am very sorry the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has brought up before this hon. House the same letter we discussed in the Public Accounts Committee that we had upstairs. Evidence was taken in regard to boring by private firms, and it was acknowledged by the department that it was not satisfactory. I understood that the hon. member was satisfied with the evidence given upstairs.
If we want to know what irrigation is then we must go to the pass to see. The farmer first made a small sloot and led his water. Then the first thing was to know how much water was required on the land and how much water must sink into the ground to make the things grow. Then the farmer went over to more cultivation and subsequently the Government came with its engineers and the first big work they built was the Beaufort dam. That washed away. One would have thought that the engineers and the Government had then learnt a lesson, but nothing of the sort. The second was at Wykvlei. This dam was made far too large. They did not look at the catchment area or to the rainfall. Up to this date that dam has never yet been full. But when the dam was half full it began to leak and the people had more and more to leave the neighbourhood. One would surely think that the Government and engineers had drawn lessons from all these things but they have made blunder after blunder. Now hon. members opposite come and say that the commission has done such good work. The members have sat for 14 years on the Government side. Why did they not appoint a commission to find out the mistakes? The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) has said that the tax for irrigation works is so high. We will not complain if we only get sufficient water for so and so many morgen that the scheme is intended for. There is not a single scheme carried out by the Government that has enough water for the ground which was intended to be served by it. Not one. The engineers have always cherished too great expectations. Nobody went into the matter: Not one Minister in the past could say how much water was necessary to make a morgen of lucerne grow on those schemes. Our sons must first know how to lead water. I could lead water from my eighth year. The former Government have always treated the irrigation problem as a football. It came under one Minister after another and the one made a greater failure of it than another, because not one of all of them knew what irrigation meant, not one was a farmer. The member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) has only farmed just a little with a cheque book. We must find a solution. We must first think of a plan to rectify once more the mistakes made by the engineers and the Government. The Government must always bear in mind that it is ultimately responsible for what its servants do wrong. Now we have always had a wrong position, that settlement fell under one department and irrigation under another department. Irrigation comes under the Minister of Lands. I admit that he has too much work for both. But I think that the Minister of Lands should have the control over land settlement which falls outside irrigation. Just imagine a farmer who has a farm who ploughs and harrows his farm and he depends on his neighbour for water. That is the position here. The one department controls the water and the other irrigates. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort has complained about the water rate of £1 12s. 6d. We do not complain about it, but the dams of the Government are too small, and the dam sloots too small. The hon. member for Cradock is such a champion of irrigation schemes let him mention me one scheme since 1910 that has been a success. There is not one, and there is not a single farmer who has made a success. The farmers have not received enough water. It has always been below the estimate. And what are the schemes in the end? They are built on nothing else but flood water. We must try and take an interest in the matter. I hope mat this Government will take more interest and make a success of it,
I am sorry to get up at this late hour of the night, and I do not want to delay the vote, but I have a matter of some importance to my part of the world, Zululand, which I would like to bring to the notice of the Minister. It is the function of governments in all civilized countries, as far as I have any knowledge of them, to maintain the natural drainage of the country, to keep open the river mouths and conserve the river banks. In the U.S.A., India and many other countries they spend vast sums on conserving the river banks. In Natal, we have numerous rivers, and these rivers are constantly becoming silted up with sand and mud, "and water cannot find its way to the sea, with the result that they cause a lot of swamps which are unnecessary, and which it should be the function of the Government to remove. I see no provision is made in the estimates for this work, and I think it is a work that can be fittingly undertaken by the irrigation department. We spend a lot of money to put water on the land, but we have thousands of acres of land in this Country, fine alluvial soil, where you only want to take the water off the land.
We want to put it on.
I know you want to put it on, but there are thousands of acres where you want to take the water off the soil. It is an important matter, because most of the rivers in Natal silt up at different times of the year. It is a governmental function to keep open those river mouths. If the Government does not do it then the people living far up the river suffer as the result of this. I do think the Minister might look into this matter and see if he cannot make some provision for keeping open the river mouths.
I see here on page 170 that £18,500 is put down for surveys, etc. An irrigation district has lately been proclaimed in my constituency, namely, Buffels River. I hope that a portion of this money will be used for surveys in that district so that a commencement can be made with the work if the money is available for it. It is highly necessary, and I can assure the Minister if the dam is made above Laingsburg I will not come here to plead for a reduction of taxes, if I still have the fortune, or the misfortune, of being a member of Parliament.
That we hear from everybody.
Yes, but there are members who have said that their irrigation works are a success. I hope that we shall draw on the experience of the past so that this dam shall not be a failure. I hope that the dam will soon be made. Recently a great quantity of water has run away to the sea, and as we know there has also been drought in Laingsburg. Then I wish also to speak of irrigation at Aspoort. The Government are in the position of owning most of the ground at that irrigation scheme. If the Government leads the water out by a furrow it will be able to settle many people on the land there, because the rainfall is regular. It is rich ground, and I hope that the Minister will not delay the matter long.
I never detain the House long, and shall be very short. I want again to bring the irrigation scheme as from Kromellenbogen to the notice of the Government, and to ask what the position is in connection with it. It will be one of the chief irrigation schemes in the country. The Vaal River water is available for it, and there are 200,000 morgen of the most fertile ground in the country that can be put under water. The water can be taken out between the Vaal and the Harts River. The ground is of the best, and I do not ask for it simply to have an irrigation works, but because it can be of great use.
I just want to point out to the hon. member that he can ask the hon. Minister a question but that he cannot now ask for a definite scheme.
I just wish to ask the hon. Minister when he will make a commencement with that scheme. Because I have not yet seen a report about it, and as I have said before it will be of great help to the diggers of those parts.
I should like to bring up the question of the Olifants River scheme. The scheme was intended to irrigate 10,500 morgen of ground but now it has been found that only 2,800 morgen can be brought under water because as I understand the catchment dam is too low and the sloots too small for carrying the water to the lands. I should like to know what the Minister’s intentions in this connection are. I see under this heading £8,000, for maintenance and £7,000 for extension. Other hon. members talk about prospective schemes and I think that I certainly have the right to speak about existing schemes that have been a failure. The Boegoeberg scheme is another old scheme which was built by the old Cape Government and on which a fairly large amount of work has been done. I understand the difficulty there was that the ground which would be available for irrigation belonged to a private individual. Now I understand that the person has recently died and that the Government now have an opportunity of possibly getting the ground at a reasonable price and something can be done to make a success of this work.
I am sorry to detain the House so late, but the vote came under discussion so late, and I have several times lost my opportunity in favour of other members. But if I abstain any longer then I shall get into trouble with my electors. With reference to boring I want to say that in my constituency it is a burning question amongst the farmers. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) said that the charges for boring are made too cheap, and that they should not compete with private individuals. The charge by the Government for boring is £5 per day. Some people in my district enter into an agreement by which they deposit £200, and they are guaranteed 6,000 gallons of water per day, and if they do not get it then they pay nothing. Why then if this can be guaranteed to the people by a private company cannot the Government not also meet the people a little? The difficulty of the farmers is that they are not in a position to deposit the £200. If the Government would give a little extension under the ordinary hire agreement then the people there would be much assisted. There are quite a number of farms all along the ridge of the Kalahari, and here and there boring is done. We should like to see the irrigation department once and for all tackling the matter properly and putting at work five, six or more bores at once in that area, and to so work that the farmers need not fetch water from one end to the other, but that the one farm is taken after the other. So that when work is begun on the next farm the water at the last preceding farm can be used. If those parts are properly provided with water and are made habitable then we shall have an additional buffer against the locusts. Why is the locusts plague in the northwest so difficult to fight to-day? Because there is no water. Just one word more in connection with the irrigation commission that is to be appointed. We should have had such a commission years and years ago. There are certain schemes here and there, which are a failure. There is not enough water. The dams are too small or the ground is not suitable to make it a success. The Orange River is actually the only river that always has water, except possibly every ten years at a certain time in the year. There are many farms there. The member for the Paarl (Dr. de Jager), has talked about the Boegoeberg, but there are many other farms, and the Government has large properties there which were bought long ago by the Government. It is one of the places where the commission should institute an enquiry, and if it uses common sense it will see that it is an area for irrigation. But we must avoid things such as happened at the Orange River dam, and which are useless to the irrigation department. £75.000 was wasted there for cement walls, and to-day the monkeys are walking along the walls. I only wish to add that I am also very sorry that the Bill to establish such a commission is not to be introduced this year.
The hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) has referred to the keeping open of river mouths and the conservation of river banks. The way in which I think we can deal with that matter is by legislation laying down drainage districts, in the same manner in which we have provided for irrigation districts. In the meanwhile we have sent a superintending engineer to that part of the country to give us some estimate of the cost. We shall try to come to the relief of the farmers there.
*The hon. member for Paarl (Dr. de Jager) has mentioned the matter of the Olifants River scheme. That is one of the matters which must be enquired into by the commission which is still sitting. The permanent commission will investigate matters such as the Boegoeberg scheme, etc., and then make recommendations to the House as to what ground should be bought. Then as regards boring the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has always taken up the attitude that we must not compete with private bores. We have now practically taken the middle course. We assist the farmer with boring which costs considerably more than what is paid, £5 per day arid £2 10s. 0d. per day thereafter are less than the expense to the department. The sum of £22,400 which appears under head F, is practically nothing else than a subsidy to the farmers of the country in that connection. At the same time I think that I cannot meet the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) by making the hire of the bores more. The price is a reasonable one for the country as a whole. It is true that private bores possibly cannot compete here. But as a matter of fact there is no question of competition. It is anyhow always the duty of the State to see to it that its supply of water is used.
Vote put and agreed to.
Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to be reported without amendment.
On the motion of the Minister of Finance it was agreed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
The CHAIRMAN stated that the committee had agreed to the Estimates of Expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund without amendment, and that he would bring up a report at a later date.
Progress reported; House to resume in committee to-morrow.
House adjourned at