House of Assembly: Vol5 - THURSDAY 9 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
The MINISTER OF LANDS laid upon the Table—
- (135) Proposed exchange of certain Government lots for other lots in the Springbok Village.
Papers referred to Select Committee on Crown Lands.
First Order read: House to go into Committee on the Native Lands (Natal and Transvaal) Release Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 3,
I would like to have some information with regard to this clause. Certain information has been put before me and, if it is correct, it simply means that the native will get, in return for land which is useful to him, land which is of no use whatsoever to him. A deputation has been to see me on this matter, and I would be glad if the Minister of Native Affairs would make a statement.
Of course, it may be so; we very often get information which is not correct. That is why the select committee is really there to go into these questions and see, after hearing evidence, that the bargain really is a good one. I think the hon. member (Mr. Pearce) might very well leave this question over until we come to the schedule, and then we shall go into each transaction separately, and the hon. member can draw the attention of the committee to the particular item which he has in mind.
Clause put and agreed to.
On the Schedule,
I move that the items be considered seriatim.
On Item 1,
I would like some explanation from the Minister as to why this land is being transferred from the Native Trust to the Citrus Estates, Limited.
I think this is for certain railway purposes, for the necessary buildings for storage of fruit, etc. Unfortunately, this has been before the select committee, and I have not the exact particulars before me.
I think we should protest against the transfer of this land to a private company. I protest against land being transferred to a private company in any shape or form.
Item put and agreed to.
On Item 2.
I would like to know from the Minister the reason for this exchange. It appears the Natal Native Trust is giving an area of 1,969 acres in exchange for an area of 3,306 acres in the Bergville division. Bergville has already 239,700 acres scheduled under the 1913 Act as native area, and this exchange means that the difference between 3,306 acres which the Union Government is giving and the 1,969 acres, namely, 1,337 acres, is to be added to this already large area of 239,700 acres. When the Native Affairs Commission was in Natal the Bergville people were very well represented at the meeting of the commission in Ladysmith. The stand they took was that they objected to further ground being added to this already large area. I must say on behalf of the Bergville people I protest against this 1,337 acres additional land being added. The Bergville division has set apart under the 1913 Act almost twice as much land as native area as the whole of the Free State. I do not suppose there is a district in the whole of Natal which in proportion to its size in contributing more to native areas, and they object very strongly to any more land being added.
The hon. member forgets this, that here we have to do with business transactions, and although the native area which is being given in exchange is smaller than what is being given to the natives, the value is the same. The hon. member says “no,” but that is what I am informed, and that is what the select committee takes to be the case. It is ground exchanged against ground. You are taking from the native area and, perforce, we shall have to see that anything taken from the native area is replaced again by ground, otherwise we can easily see what is going to happen. One of these days you will have the native totally ousted, and he will not have his land; and if there is one thing which the Act of 1913 contemplated it is that your native areas shall be preserved for the native; but, of course, it allows the right and the opportunity of ground being exchanged, taken away and substituted by the consent of Parliament. I do not think my hon. friend can possibly take any objection as long as it is seen that what the white man gets is fully the equivalent for what the native gets, and what the native gets is fully equivalent to what the white man gets.
Item put and agreed to.
On Item 9,
On the motion of Mr. Heyburn, the Chairman put Item 9, proposed to be omitted by the select committee.
I learn from the report of the Select Committee that the Committee recommended the omission of this particular clause from the Bill and also recommended in connection with Item No. 9 of the Schedule—
A few minutes ago the Prime Minister said the Select Committee’s duty was to investigate these particular transactions and take evidence on them. When the Select Committee met there was, I think, sufficient information available to make it desirable in the eyes of the Select Committee that further information should be obtained. It is very late in the session; the Select Committee felt it was impossible to obtain adequate information, information from all sides concerned, and they therefore recommended the abolition of the clause. I was a member of the Select Committee and moved a motion to delete this clause. I personally know of nothing whatever against this transaction, and do not for a moment imply that there is anything wrong in it, but I think sufficient information is available to show that there is a case for further enquiry before passing this clause. I want to read one of several letters which I have received in connection with this matter. This is from a European farmer in Zululand. The story of the transaction, as he states it, is as follows—
I am giving that letter to show that there is a distinct case for enquiry. I understand that a committee, consisting of three men, investigated this question, consisting of the chief native commissioner, a magistrate, and Mr. George Higgs. I think it is wrong for a man who is associated with one side to be a representative of the Government on a committee of that sort. It ought to be an entirely independent committee. We in the select committee have asked that, before the clause is passed, it is due to the House that we should satisfy ourselves, by means of an independent enquiry, and we have suggested the native affairs commission.
I wish formally to move that this section, number 9, be re-inserted. This matter is one of those which was left to us as an inheritance, and I must say that, as far as the present Government is concerned, I have not seen any reason to depart from the recommendations of the commission; but I may be allowed first to state briefly what it is about. The sugar milling company, for some years past, have been desirous of getting that piece of land from the natives. The land is suitable for sugar cane, and therefore is an asset of considerable value to the milling company; otherwise they would not have tried to get hold of it. It was all along pointed out that unless they could get other ground to be substituted for that ground for the natives the Government would not be prepared to consent to this sale to the company. Commencing in 1924 they obtained the option on another piece of ground, also adjoining this reserve, and that was one of the conditions that the Government had always insisted upon, that it must be adjacent to the native reserve. The option was over a piece of ground of a similar extent, and they then offered to give this piece of ground to the natives, plus a sum of £10,000. Then the Government was prepared to approve of that transaction, and took the necessary steps to give them possession of that piece of ground which they wanted. But the ground had first to be surveyed, and it was made a condition that a fence should be erected. In February, 1924, the matter stood thus: That the sugar milling company could get that piece of ground from the natives by giving them another piece of ground in its place plus £10,000, and that as soon as everything was right the Government would take the necessary steps to secure Parliament’s sanction. A commission was appointed to enquire into and report on this contemplated bargain. The commission consisted of Mr. C. A. Wheelwright, chief native commissioner; Mr. R. M. Tanner, who is also a magistrate, and Mr. G. W. Higgs. I do not know exactly what the position of the latter is, but I believe he did stand in some relationship to the sugar company. The report was a very favourable one as far as the natives were concerned. The report, which is dated March 25, 1924, states—
The application by this company to acquire this land has been before the Native Affairs Department for some time now in various forms, but could not be seriously considered until now, as although the Zululand Sugar Milling Company wished to acquire the land to increase the acreage under cane in their concession, and were willing to pay a good price for it, they had no scheme for replacing the land to be taken from the natives. A second scheme was put forward to remove the natives to the “Thorn” country north of the Ntambanana Settlement down towards the White Umfolozi River. This also could not be entertained on account of the shortage of water in the area, the presence of tsetse fly and “nagana,” and the fact that the land would not have been contiguous to the remainder of the lands of the chiefs concerned. The scheme now put forward has remedied these defects; and the milling company have acquired options over a number of farms contiguous to the reserve, the acreage of which is more than sufficient to replace what may be cut off from the reserve; so that there is a certain amount of choice of land. We have seen the two native chiefs concerned, Saiyana (Mtembu Tribe) and Mcinzeni (Cebekulu Tribe), and they having consulted their followers offer no objection to the exchange of their lands, except that Mcinzeni wishes his father’s grave site respected, and asks that a portion of their present lands be retained by them. The Ntambanana Farmers’ Association, in whose area the farms to be acquired are situate, have passed a resolution withdrawing all opposition to the scheme with only one or two dissentients. We have carefully inspected both the land the Zululand Sugar Milling Company are desirous of acquiring and the farms from which they offer a selection by way of exchange; and we make the following suggestions:—
That the Zululand Sugar Milling Company be allowed to acquire the portion of Reserve V lying along the O’Kulu stream left (or west) bank between the Enseleni River and the Ikuku stream, bounded north-west by the line C.D., in extent about 8,600, but not less than 8,000 acres; and that should it be found that the area so included falls short of the estimate, the line C.D. may be overlapped to a maximum extent of six hundred acres distributed as evenly as possible between the triangles A. and B. That in exchange for this six lots totalling 7,664 acres be taken over. This is in addition to the £10,000 offered by the Zululand Sugar Milling Company for the 8,000 acres. The farms mentioned are equally good land for the natives, and have been pointed out to the chief. There are several good houses on the farms, three windmills and five dipping tanks, besides a good deal of cleared and ploughed land at present growing excellent cotton, which we saw and inspected. This land was originally occupied by natives of the same tribe. The farms to be taken over for the natives run on both sides of the Enseleni River right up to Lot No. 300; and the taking of this portion of the Ntambanana Settlement will cause the least inconvenience to the settlers. We attach two maps, the one showing the reserve and farms as they are now, and the other showing the proposed alterations, which have been drawn up with the aid of surveyors. There will be one or two local adjustments to be made amongst the chiefs themselves later, but it will be on reserve lands, and can easily be arranged departmentally. We recommend that it be a condition of the exchange that the land acquired by the Zululand Sugar Milling Company be fenced off from the native reserve, and that 2 or 3 lanes be left at the points indicated to enable the natives to get to the main road and to the various farms on which they work. Mr. Coffey (302) and Mr. Dingwall Gibson (301) are as far as we know the only objectors to the scheme, and their objection is that the native reserve may be brought alongside of them. This it will be observed will be obviated by leaving out the farms 289 (Payne), 288 (Gold), and 300 (A. Otto), so that in no part will Coffey’s or Gibson’s farms be touched by native reserve, and a road otherwise than through native reserve will be left open to them for use should the road through native reserve be stopped for ox transport through East Coast fever quarantine. We are satisfied that this exchange and cultivation of the land by the planters will assist materially in the agricultural, industrial and financial development of the district.
This is the position as we found it, and as laid before us by the only men whose evidence, under the circumstances, and upon whose advice we would be entitled to act upon. Mr. Wheelwright is the chief native commissioner, and Mr. Tanner, as a magistrate, occupies a high position, and we must accept it that their findings are impartial, and also that the interests of the natives have been duly considered. The members of the select committee, I understand, wish to have the Native Affairs Commission to enquire into the matter, or to have some other enquiry before this is sanctioned by Parliament. As far as the Native Affairs Commission is concerned, it is there for a totally different purpose. For matters of this kind the department has necessarily to rely upon the advice and assistance of those of its officials who are locally versed and know the position, the value of the ground, and who also know how the natives look on a thing like this. I can hardly devise, at present, any other commission who, in my opinion, would have greater weight with the department and the public generally than this commission, at any rate so far as the chief native commissioner and Mr. Tanner are concerned. This is a transaction which originated with the previous Government. I have gone into the matter, and I must accept it if it is in the interests of the milling company and of the natives concerned. My hon. friend can understand that I cannot say whether what is alleged in the letter that has been written to him is true or not true. I can only say to the House if there is any doubt let the matter stand over. But I must say that with the lack of any evidence before us, I do not feel justified in saying to the House simply because of that don’t let us pass it. In the meanwhile if the sugar milling company had been told by the previous Government that if it could satisfy the commission that the land to be given in exchange would be satisfactory, the Government would take the necessary steps to bring it before Parliament. The milling company having been acquainted with the report of the commission exercised the option over the farms it was going to give to the natives, and bought these farms. They have already undertaken certain works on the farm which to-day still legally belong to the trust. They have also, in anticipation, given over their farms to the natives who are actually in possession of those farms to-day and are living upon them. In these circumstances I feel that the Government is bound not to do anything to frustrate this unless the Government has real facts upon which to go. There are no facts, but there are allegations, and unfortunately we do not know even the name of the person who makes those allegations, and in anything I said or did this afternoon, I would not like to throw any doubt on the bona fides of the transaction as far as the natives or the sugar milling companies are concerned.
I hope the House will agree to the motion of the Prime Minister to move this clause back into the schedule. I had a good deal to do with this transaction as Minister of Lands, and I can give the assurance to the House that the then Government went into the matter from every point of view, particularly from the point of view of the natives. We appointed Mr. Wheelwright, Mr. Tanner and Mr. Higgs. Mr. Higgs was appointed on my recommendation. I look upon him as a gentleman having a unique knowledge of Zululand conditions. He is trusted throughout the nation by the natives.
Is he a sugar planter?
Yes, but that need not debar him. He is not a miller, but a sugar planter, and his interests are against the milling interests as a whole. He is a fair-minded man, and was put on the commission at my suggestion.
Is he interested in the transaction?
Not personally, but he does not want to see an extension of the area over which cane can be grown for the milling. Whatever Mr. Higgs did, I will guarantee to the House it was above-board and honest. In this matter there are three points of view: the mill-owners, the natives, and the settlers; and I am satisfied from all three points of view that the transaction was a fair one.
Were the settlers given a chance of objecting?
Yes, and there were only two objectors, and they were men, two whose grounds the company did not want to buy. The natives are back already on their ancestral land and if the House upsets the arrangement it means sending the natives back to the place from which they trekked. From the native point of view it was welcomed, because it has placed them back on the land they were originally. So far as the settlers from Ntambanana are concerned, they are satisfied. There was no compulsion brought to bear on them. As Minister of Lands I believe the transaction was in the interest of the whole area generally, and I said that if the settlers agreed to sell the land I, as Minister of Lands would consent to the transaction going through. The company went to each individual settler and bought the land and paid a high price for it, higher than they got it from the Government originally. The Land Settlement Act is designed to stop speculation in Government land, but we looked upon it from the settlers’ point of view, and the point of view of the sugar industry and the natives, and we were satisfied that the transaction was a sound one. What is going to happen if the House does not pass the clause? We told the company, the settlers and the natives to go ahead and that subject to the consent of Parliament we would approve of the matter. Acting on our promise they bought the land from the settlers and there is at any rate some moral obligation on the next Government, and upon Parliament not lightly to upset an arrangement like that. Of course if there are cogent reasons or a strong belief there was something wrong about the transaction, Parliament can and should refuse to confirm the transaction. I hold however that, short of very strong reasons. Parliament should not upset this arrangement. The natives, quite willingly, have already shifted to their new ground. The settlers have got other ground. At no stage have the natives shown any reluctance and they have gladly trekked back to their old land. If the House interferes what is going to happen? The settlers have sold and got their money, and left their farms, and the natives are on their farms. It seems to me that if the House were to exclude this clause it would be unnecessarily dislocating a public business transaction of a very important nature. The only objectors were one or two settlers. I happen to know that the only settlers who were dissatisfied with this transaction were those whose farms the company did not want. I, myself, went over the ground. I admit that the ground the company is getting is very good ground from a sugar-planting point of view. I think it is better ground from a sugar-planting point of view, than what the natives are getting, but not from an agricultural, pastoral or farming point of view, and the company is paying £10,000 for that land, plus what it had to pay the settlers. Taking it all through, I do not think this House need fear that there is anything wrong in this transaction. I hope the House will agree to the motion of the Minister of Native Affairs and retain this clause of the schedule as it stands.
As representative of the constituency in which this transaction took place, I think it is due to me to say a few words about it. I have no interest whatsoever in this transaction. I knew nothing whatever about it until I received a letter, as my hon. friend (Col. D. Reitz) did, telling me that this transaction was going through. I made enquiries from him, and he told me what it was all about. I went back to the district and enquired into the matter, and I say that if ever there was a transaction carried out in this country which is in the public interest it was this one. The land in question was not the ancestral ground of the natives. They originally lived in another area, from which they removed when the Government settled them on the ground which they were occupying when this transaction took place. The only people who have objected to this transaction, as far as I know, are the people whose farms are adjacent to those purchased by the company in question, and their main objection was that their ground also was not bought. All the local associations have discussed this matter, and they have unanimously come to the conclusion that they would support it in the public interest.
At any rate, it was as unanimous as things can be in this world. There may have been one or two objectors, but you will always find one or two who will object in their own interest. The natives themselves saw that this was in the interest of the whole country. The agreement which was come to with the company was that the particular area which they would obtain would be cut up into small areas of about 200 acres each, and they were to be given to these planters at Empangeni who had not done so well on their farms owing to their having suffered to some extent from drought, and it was felt that the addition of these areas to their farms would enable them to make a decent living—a thing which the Lands Department does every day.
At what price?
The price they are going to pay for this is the price which the company itself has paid. I have a letter from the president of the Zululand Planters’ Union. I wired to the company, and said that, unless I was certain that this land is going to be allotted to the settlers and is not going to be used for speculative purposes by the company, I would oppose. In the reply which I have received it is stated that Mr. Armstrong had assured him (the writer) that the ground would be sold at cost price, and that there would be no profit to the company on the deal. Now as to the natives. The natives were living prior to this transaction on this land, which is open veld land, without any improvements whatsoever, except the huts that they had on the ground. They graze very few stock on it. They have now moved on to this land at Ntambanana. They are living on the farms originally fenced by the occupiers, the chiefs are living in the houses of the settlers, and all the stock they had is now kept in the paddocks where before they had to herd their stock on the veld. The natives have £10,000 added to the trust for native development. Land which would perhaps not have been developed for years, certainly not developed to such an extent, is now coming under cultivation. The people who were struggling on farms which are quite unsuitable for cane-growing in some respects will now secure an additional area, and they will be able to make a decent living.
I am supporting the request of the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) that the matter should be delayed a little while. It is a very reasonable request. It is not direct opposition to the transaction. I think if any arguments were required to support that suggestion they have been supplied by the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) and the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). It is remarkable that the opposition to an enquiry by the Native Affairs Commission should come from the very same individuals who were loudest in their clamour for such enquiry and evidence in the case of the Colour Bar Bill. Yet here, a matter of the most serious and intimate import to a considerable body of natives is proposed to be summarily disposed of. If, as has been stated by hon. members, the natives have come so well out of the deal, why raise objections to having an enquiry by the Native Affairs Department? I was very much struck by the essence of the remarks of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) that the whole thing is completed except the matter of the official transfer. That is a rather surprising side light on the methods adopted in conducting these very important transactions. Here we have big interests concerned; and it seems to have been a case of—
If that is the case it seems to me more essential still that the Native Affairs Department should be called into this matter. In the absence of a land-taxing policy, I have misgivings as to the encroachment on the land of these big interests which become a monopoly. When the call for land comes, as it inevitably will come, and very soon you will find that the land is consolidated in the hands of a few private controllers. I want to support the request by the hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn). It is couched in very reasonable terms, and nothing has emerged up to now which alters the reasonableness of his request. Seeing that this occupation has already been effected, no harm can be done and nothing can be lost by delaying the matter until this enquiry is made and a report received. If the report is as favourable to the transaction as those who have spoken in favour of it are, then nothing will be lost, and everything will be gained.
The last speaker has asked that the Native Affairs Department should enquire into this matter. I do not quite understand what he means, because the chief native commissioner in Natal, Mr. Wheelwright, a man second to none in South Africa in his desire for the welfare of the natives, is the head of the department in Natal and associated with him are Col. Tanner and Mr. Higgs. I just want to say that nobody could be found in this country which would give a fairer hearing to the natives and see that justice is done them than the three gentlemen who have been named in this House this afternoon, and who have made this recommendation. I would entrust the affairs of the natives concerned to these three men as soon as to any other three men in South Africa. I trust there will be no necessity to refer this back, certainly not to the Native Affairs Department,
I quite appreciate—I am sure we all do—the interest of the hon. gentlemen on the cross-benches, because I believe they are sincerely anxious to avoid doing anything that might be interpreted as an injustice to the native but, in asking the Government to upset the arrangement which has been come to, they do not produce a shred of evidence in favour of doing so. If these gentlemen on the crossbenches had come to us with any concrete evidence from the natives and if one single allegation had been made that this transaction was unfavourable to the natives, then I would have been the first to say let us have another look at it, but the letter the hon. gentleman read does not touch on the native point of view at all, and I take it the interest of the hon. gentlemen on the cross-benches is purely the native interest; they are afraid the native is not coming out of this advantageously. The contents of the letter, which was read, make no mention of the native point of view, so these two gentlemen are asking the Prime Minister to hang up a transaction which has been very carefully gone into without a shred of evidence. When this thing was first mooted I appreciated the fact that it would be very carefully scrutinized and examined. I realized that the nature of the transaction in which a large slice of native land was coming into the hands of a company and the natives were being shifted would be minutely scrutinized. That made me the more careful and Government the more careful to go into the matter from every point of view. We are satisfied; the Prime Minister is satisfied, and I believe the Minister of Agriculture personally visited this land, too, and satisfied himself on the point and I believe the Minister of Lands has also gone into the matter, so that every Minister concerned is satisfied that the position of the natives has been safeguarded. What object can be served by delay? The hon. member says that nothing will be lost by delaying another year, but it must be obvious that at least one year will be lost on the sugar land. This company will have to down tools if they find that Parliament has refused to pass this. As the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) pointed out we safeguarded the position by saying to the company—
I do know that the only interest of the company is increased cane production. They found it made for inefficiency to run the mill without the maximum output of cane. If we hold this matter up for another year with the uncertainty of its perhaps being hung up the year after that we shall be retarding sugar development in Zululand. I am not blaming hon. members across the way for bringing this forward; it is only right they should be satisfied when we are dealing with natives not directly represented that we should take every possible step to safeguard them, but I do not thing a single thing has been left undone in this matter. Both the previous and the present Government have taken every step to safeguard the native. The present Government are satisfied and we were satisfied that the native is secured, and that being the case, I hope the gentleman across the way will withdraw his objection to the Prime Minister’s motion.
While I was satisfied to a great extent with the Prime Minister’s statement, yet there is an important principle involved, and that principle is that no exchange of land should take place between the natives and the Europeans, in any shape or form, unless under circumstances which are dismissed in Parliament first. I do not object altogether to the transfer of land and exchange by the Government, but I say the principle we have here is a wrong one, and I hope hon. members will vote against it and once for all lay down the principle that no private individual or company can, through bribery of the chief, or by influence, bring about an exchange of land that previously had been given to the natives.
I was one of the select committee to whom this Bill was referred, and I do not think any of the committee challenged the bona fides of this transaction. But it appeared that this was the first transaction on a large scale which had taken place since the Act of 1913, and the committee felt that in a large transaction of this nature, in which a large number of natives were concerned, there should be the most careful enquiry into any exchange of land. If the transaction had been a grant to the Union Government the position might have been different, but it was to a private company directly interested in the acquisition of this land, and in committee we felt that it would take a considerable time to obtain the necessary evidence. As one interested in native affairs, I know that it takes a long time to gather evidence from natives on a particular point, and we came to the conclusion that we could not recommend at that stage, that this clause should be accepted, and we thought the easiest way to avoid considerable expense to the country and to arrive at a correct solution was to suggest that the Native Affairs Commission, appointed a few years ago in this House to represent native interests, should make enquiry on the spot, and if, after enquiry, the commission reported to the House that the transaction was in the interests both of the Europeans and natives, we, as a committee, were prepared to accept that, and to recommend it to the House. I have always been under the impression that this is one of the duties of the Native Affairs Commission. The Act of 1920 lays down that the committee should consider any matter of administrative routine submitted to it by direction of the Minister. I understand from the Prime Minister that that does not exactly fall within the scope of the duties of the commission, but we as a committee, felt that that was the easiest and most satisfactory way of dealing with the matter. I know the duties of that commission to a certain extent. I have heard them addressing natives, and one of them, in addressing a large body of natives, said—
I think the natives have come to realize that the Native Affairs Commission is the direct link between Parliament and themselves, and I think the commission should sit in loco to consider the question. That is why we deleted this particular section. I do not want to go into the merits of the transaction, but the mere fact that this company has paid a sum of £10,000 to the Natal Trust for this land, shows that it must be of more value than the land exchanged for it. I do not know whether this particular clause I am going to read has any relation to this land, but in 1917 a commission sat in this House and made the following report—
If these are the same lands, it looks as if they belong to the Crown, and should revert to the Crown, and that the Crown should make provision for the natives. Since that select committee sat, I have had a letter handed to me, written by a gentleman who styles himself the president of the Natal Native Congress. The letter is dated 17th June, and reads—
June 17th, 1925.
What the influences of the Native Congress are, I do not know, but I feel that this is certainly a case for enquiry by the responsible body we represent, and the natives most vitally concerned in order to let the natives realize that Parliament down here is representing their interests, and desirous of doing its duty to the natives, and that this matter should receive careful enquiry before it passes this House. I should like to say that in transactions of this nature the parties interested should not be entitled or allowed to carry out options and so forth, until Parliament has sanctioned them It is unfair to come to a select committee and say that a certain contrast has been completed, and that if we upset it, it is going to cause hardship. If any sanction has to be obtained from Parliament for the carrying out of any transaction, nothing further should be done by the people interested until parliamentary sanction is obtained. I think this was the feeling of the select committee who carried the motion in connection with this matter with only one dissentient.
There is one point on which I have been asked to make representations, and that is the differential treatment meted out to settlers in this matter. When the Ntambanana lands were given out, they were allotted under the usual conditions; that is to say, personal occupation by the settlers themselves. They had very, very, hard times. It is a very dry spot, and they were not successful with their crops, their cattle died heavily of nagana, and many of them were anxious to get out, but they were told by the Lands Department that they must sell the land only to people who would personally occupy them, or otherwise transfer would be refused. That conditions prevented some from selling, and one or two have had to leave their farms altogether, the leases of which have been cancelled, but in the six or seven cases of sales we are asked to sanction in this Bill in which they were allowed to sell to the Zululand Sugar Milling Company, these conditions were abrogated. I took up the case of one man who asked that the same consideration might be given to him, but his request was absolutely refused. Do you think that right? It is not just or fair to mete out differential treatment. I am not imputing to my hon. friend in front the appointment of Mr. Higgs on this commission.
I said I did not know whether he was interested or not.
This land was a Naboth’s vineyard, and it was particularly valuable to and coveted by the milling company in question. They approached Mr. Higgs, a man who has great influence with the natives, and who is an interested party, to negotiate the transaction. He was to receive an interest if he was able to induce the natives to agree to the exchange of land. He approached the chiefs and the matter was arranged, his interest is on record.
You are well aware that it is on record. He was afterwards put on to the commission which was to conduct an independent enquiry whether that transaction was a sound one, and in the interests of the natives or not. I say that in the interests of justice, that was a position which should not obtain, and though I do not impute any unfairness or wilful bias to Mr. Higgs, he should never have sat on that commission. I think the request of the Native Affairs Commission should receive consideration and that an absolutely independent enquiry should be made. I am prepared to accept the statement that the exchange is in the interests of all parties, but in order to clear the transaction of a stigma which has given rise to very unfavourable comment, a proper and independent enquiry should be made, not one by a commission, one member of which is peculiarly interested in securing the adoption of a favourable report.
I would put it to the House whether Mr. Higgs prejudiced the judgment of the Chief Native Commissioner of Natal and Mr. Tanner, the magistrate. I know nothing whatever of this, except what I learned when I went into Zululand to enquire into it. The whole charge seems to be against Mr. Higgs, that he had some interest in the matter, and that the case is prejudiced by his sitting on the commission. Mr. Higgs is probably one of the most respected men amongst the natives in Zululand. He speaks the language like a zulu, he is a trustee for several of the tribes, and I do not think there is anyone who would do more for the natives than Mr. Higgs. Whatever his interest was in the transaction, that did not prejudice the opinion of the Chief Native Commissioner. The Minister of Agriculture went into the matter when he was in Zululand with me before the commission began its investigations, and certain representations were made to him by an individual whose farm was not bought. The idea that the natives were losing by the exchange never entered his head. The Minister of Agriculture went into the matter, and was satisfied that the best interests of the country were being conserved. The Minister saw the natives living on the farms, he also saw the chiefs and he saw the cotton. Zululand is not run in the same way as the Transkei is. In this instance, not only the chiefs, but all the natives concerned, were consulted, and the whole gathering was met by the magistrate himself, and there was no objection whatever to the transaction.
As a member of the select committee who dissented from the recommendation of the select committee on Clause 9 of the schedule, I should like to give my reason for voting against this recommendation. My principal reason is that the Native Affairs Commission is not an administrative body,, and if it is allowed to interfere in administrative matters, it will only complicate the already difficult task of native government. We have a responsible administrative officer over Zululand assisted by the magistrate of the district, and Mr. Higgs, who knew the value of the land. From the point of view of local knowledge and independence there was a guarantee that the interest of the natives would be safeguarded by the presence on the commission of the Chief Native Commissioner and the magistrate. I do not know of a Case in which it was considered desirable that an administrative matter should be referred to the Native Affairs Commission. I can conceive of a large number of cases in which their interference in administrative matters would produce nothing but confusion and harm, for if the natives get the idea that at the back of the recognized administrative authority there is a nebulous body which can interfere and reverse administrative decisions much harm can be done. It also seemed to me that we should be dictating to the Prime Minister how to conduct his own department, and I also considered that any statement made by persons whose names were not disclosed should have been ventilated be for the select committee. For that reason I moved that the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) should be allowed to give evidence on the cause, because I was aware that he had personal knowledge of this area and knew a good deal about the transaction, and if he were confronted with the allegations made, he would be in a position to deal with them or to refute them, and if they were not refuted it would be time enough to decide whether any further enquiry was necessary. The land belonging to the natives was originally beaconed off by the Zululand Delimitation Commission, and vested in the Zululand Native Trust, whose powers were conferred on the Minister of Native Affairs. The trust had the power to sell, exchange, or dispose of the land in any way it thought fit. It would be an unwarrantable interference with the Minister of Native Affairs in the administration of this estate to virtually decide to send a commission to investigate matters that should be dealt with either by the Minister, or by the select committee itself. For the same reason, I embodied in a resolution a request for further information in connection with section 10. the next clause, which I mention only incidentally. In my view, in matters of this sort, it is better to leave it to the Minister of Native Affairs, who is the best judge of the land market, and if any additional land is necessary it is better sought for by the Minister of Native Affairs in his own good time, and under such conditions, as will not put the market up against him if he decides to buy land to replace an area taken away. On these grounds. I objected to dictating to the Minister of Native Affairs by the select committee.
With reference to the speech of the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick), I would like to assure the House that the select committee had neither desire nor intention of dictating to the Minister. The committee recommended—
It was suggested, and was not a dictation to him. If we were wrong, the best thing to do is to re commit the Bill to us, and allow us to take the evidence of the natives and others concerned. We thought we would be saving expense of the country, and that was the entire reason for our suggestion.
I am not satisfied with the transaction. We want further information. From the facts, as I gather them, it appears that this sugar company was anxious to secure 7.600 acres of valuable land adjoining the sugar mill which formed part of native reserve. They apparently got the Government to agree to their purchase of land which Rad been allotted to the settlers in the N’tambanana district. The Government apparently consented to an exchange. The company gave the land purchased at N’tambanana to the natives and took the land which the natives occupied, which was valuable sugar-planting land. If it was the desire that this valuable land should be occupied by Europeans why didn’t the Government take it and allot it for European occupation? What guarantee have we got that the company will allot any of this land, when it is transferred to them, to European settlers who already own land adjoining. There is no safeguard that this will be done, and we ought to have further information before agreeing to the transaction.
Mr. Higgs’ share in the transaction has been queried. It has been stated that he has personal interest in the matter. I remember Mr. Higgs coming to me and refusing to take part in the business because he had a store concession, or something of the sort, and he was keen on keeping it if the Government allowed this transaction. He was interested in a small trading site, a few morgen, so far as I remember, and he didn’t want to lose it. I discussed it, and decided that was not a factor in the matter and I asked him to serve on the commission. Another point which rather concerns me personally is the question why I agreed to give these options. As a rule the land department sets its face against anything that savours of speculation in Crown lands. In two exceptional cases I granted title in Zululand with good effect. The first time was in the N’qualeni Valley, where I allowed cotton growers to transfer to a syndicate, and in the present case I did it because I thought it was in the interest of the area to do so.
Since the hon. member for East Griqualand (Mr. Gilson) has told the House that Mr. Higgs is interested in all these concerns I will give the House some further information. He got the information from the letter which I have read, and it is from the president of the Zululand Planters Union. He reported he wanted a farm for his pension fund for mill employees, and he intended to let George Higgs have one at cost price. Mr. George Higgs is a planter, and is interested in common with all the other planters in the district in getting one of these farms at cost price.
It is getting worse and worse.
It is necessary to state the worst. I want the House to understand the position. My hon. friend asked why the Government did not acquire this land. It has cost the company £60,000 to acquire this land and to buy out the nine or ten planters. They paid something near £3 an acre. £10,000 have gone to the native trust. If the Government had done this they would have paid £60,000, and would the land have ever been transferred and come into cultivation? It never would. Mr. Higgs was asked to see if the natives would agree to the transfer, and no promise was made to him, but subsequently, when the transaction was complete, he was to have the option of one of these farms.
I want to associate myself with the request to refer the matter back to the select committee or to the Native Affairs Commission. The hon. the Prime Minister sees the difficult position in which we are placed. We were not members of the select committee, and with the very conflicting information which we have received this afternoon I think it is asking a little too much to vote for or against that transaction. I therefore think that the request of the hon. member for Tembuland (Mr. Payn) is quite reasonable seeing that with the different information before us we do not know where we stand.
May I just say that I, of course, at once took up the position in this matter to leave it to this committee to decide. I felt that I had no other data about the matter than the report of those who were appointed to make a report to the Government. As regards the other objections mentioned this afternoon I just wish to say that up to to-day only vague suggestions have been made, and of course the committee will quite understand that it could not be expected of me to doubt the good faith of officials in high positions and that I should do anything that would make their work suspected. The head of the Native Affairs Commission who was one of those that instituted the enquiry. But after the discussion which has taken place here this afternoon I must acknowledge that facts have been brought out which placed this committee in a difficult position and that after the discussion it has become necessary to make an investigation in one way or another. I feel personally that I can rely upon those who instituted the enquiry, but I feel that I cannot expect this committee to just share my view without more to practically make us a party to something wrong that might take place. I am convinced, as I have said, that nothing wrong has taken place. One member, Mr. Higgs, as has been stated this afternoon, was interested in the matter even if the interest was only a small one, but I personally feel complete confidence in the other two to approve of the transaction, but I do not know whether I may feel justified to ask the committee in the circumstances to make itself a patty to the matter. I feel with hon. member-, that anyone who investigates such a matter should have absolutely no interest in it, and I therefore completely understand the slight difficulty which exists with hon. members and their request for the matter to be referred back to the select committee for further investigation. I proposed to add section (9) in conflict with the resolution of the select committee, but thinking that the statements of which the select committee had notice were only vague things. After the discussion of this afternoon, however, I must say that I think it is fair that I should not further urge the committee to incorporate the section now. I take it that the meaning of the discussion this afternoon is that my department is asked to first have a proper enquiry made whether that transaction is fair to the natives. I think I will not go into the small interest that Mr. Higgs has in the matter, but I think that it will be a good thing to have another commission appointed to report again, and then at the next session, if I find that the recommendation is in favour of putting the transaction through, I can come to Parliament again. I would then suggest that.
The position of the committee is now still more difficult. We, as a committee, have no inclination about this matter. The Prime Minister introduces this Bill to have certain transactions authorized, and it appears to me that he is not au fait of all the recommendations. We understood that the natives live on the ground which the company bought, and we learn that the settlers returned to go and live on the ground of the natives. What will the position be now if we do not approve of the transaction? We can, perhaps, get more enlightenment, but the position of the committee will be the same, because the displacement of the white people and the natives has already taken place. The position is now so complicated, that I do not know what will happen about it. I think that the committee should adopt the transaction which the Prime Minister has proposed. I cannot see that the information of the hon. member for Tembuland (Mr. Payn) makes it necessary for this section to be postponed. I agree that the ground which the company has bought is better than the ground which it got. I will support the Prime Minister to have the section passed, because otherwise he will make matters more difficult in the future.
I am glad the Prime Minister has made this a free vote, as we may call it, and taken off the whip. As far as we are concerned here, we felt that we would have to vote against the Government on this particular clause. I cannot understand the speech of the last member (Lieut.-Col. N. J. Pretorius), who makes his speech and then goes away, in which he says that because the transaction has been carried out, therefore, we must say that Parliament must agree to it. The same speech was made by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). Is this House to be a registering machine? So that whatever is carried out by the department we must carry out, otherwise somebody will suffer. We have heard to-day that Mr. Higgs is the nominee of a sugar company.
He gets a farm. He is one of the commissioners who do the deal. There is many a time that a man wants a farm and can’t get it, and he would like to go on to a commission to get a farm. This man gets a farm and that is wrong. No man, who serves on a commission to buy ground, a Government commission, has a right to buy a portion of that ground. I am surprised at the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) standing for that. I don’t think he does, really.
I have enquired into it on the spot, and I am satisfied that it is in the public interest.
Here is a man who was on a Government commission and he gets land which he pays for. Mr. Wheelwright is the chairman of this, and the Prime Minister does not want to let him down. His name has been before us before. He is one of the planter type. There are very bad rumours about this transaction going about this House at present, rumours coming from the other side. We ask Mr. Higgs this question. Let him state before a Justice of the Peace, so as to let Parliament and the country know, has he made any money out of the transaction or has he not?
My information is that he has not.
Well, we want to know that. We also want to know whether he has any farms on the way to Kosi Bay or Huhhluhu. After all, it is not the National party or the Labour party, but the South African party that did this deal, and we are a little bit suspicious.
You come up with me.
Why should we go up with the hon. member? We are a little bit suspicious, and we want to know what is going on. That is why we are going to vote against this, because we want an enquiry before this clause is put in, not afterwards. We also want to know, did the chiefs get anything?
I don’t know.
That is just it; that is why we want an enquiry. I am surprised at the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.- Gen. Byron), who got up and told the ladies last night that he stood up for the natives, and yet when this question comes along he is outside having tea.
You were outside when the colour bar Bill came along.
I voted all the same. If the right hon. member will enquire from his whip behind him he will know all about it. The South African party have always been championing the rights of the native; let them do it now. Let them have an enquiry and find out whether the chiefs got anything, and whether Mr. Higgs got anything. What is the native commission for but to protect the natives of this country?
It has no administrative powers.
It does not matter whether it has administrative powers or not. They can enquire into the question and tell Parliament about it. No, there is something wrong, and an enquiry has to be made, and we are going to vote against this clause.
I must say I find this very refreshing, this anxiety to have the natives give evidence through a select committee. It is a new-born interest in the natives, and I welcome it, but up to recently we found where very much wider native interests were concerned the same hon. gentlemen who are showing so much anxiety to-day, refused to give a single native a hearing, so this is, indeed, a welcome sign of a change of heart. I personally, I need scarcely say, have no interest in this transaction, and if the Prime Minister feels he wants to recede from the position he took up originally, I will not make any objection. I do feel it is up to me to defend my friend, Mr. Higgs, in this matter. The last part of this discussion is a beautiful example of how a perfectly clear transaction can be made into troubled water by suspicions and innuendoes. The Prime Minister got up originally and told us he was satisfied with this transaction. Since then, we have had members distilling, drop by drop, poison into the minds of the House.
On your own side.
I do not care on which side it is. I say here we have an example of how clear water can be made muddy by hints and insinuations. Here we have the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) asking, not in direct words, is Mr. Higgs getting a farm out of it? He says, has he a farm at Kosi Bay? He does not even know where it is, otherwise he would know that there is not a farm within a hundred miles of it. He has distilled drops of venom until he has even influenced the Prime Minister, who started believing the matter was clear. I do not blame him for being influenced, because this is such a typical example of the gentle art of insinuation. I think it is my duty, as a gentleman, when I hear a friend of mine maligned, to stand by him. Mr. Higgs is a Government settler at Empangeni. We put him on the land as a farmer. First of all he got a sugar farm in the Empangeni concession, which sends its cane to that particular mill. The Government is a third party to this, because all these settlers are Government settlers, and that mill could not exist without the Government settlers sending their cane to it under contract. We said to the company—
He has to pay for it, naturally. He has not got another farm, but I hope he will. Why should he not get it, when everyone of his fellow concessionaries, his fellow Government settlers on that land, is going to get a piece of land? It was I, myself, and the Government I represented, which insisted that the land should be divided up among the Government settlers who were put on the land. The hon. gentleman mentioned Kosi Bay. He knows nothing about it; but four years ago, when I was in Zululand with the land board—and this shows the gentle art of insinuation—we came to the Hlue-Hluwe Flats. They were lying barren with not a white man on them. We decided that an experiment should be made to see if sugar would grow, and we cut up four farms of about 100 or 200 acres, to make experiments, and we made very stringent conditions. Any man who got a farm had to plant so much cane for so many years. We had made mistakes before and had put men in the Nagana area, and we were not going to make mistakes again. Mr. Higgs was one of the successful men and the hon. member has brought forward this sort of insinuation against his character. One of Mr. Higgs’ two neighbours died of blackwater fever, which shows the risks they ran. Instead of being maligned by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), Mr. Higgs deserves the thanks of the community, for having tested this lend at his own expense. I would not have intervened in this aspect of the matter if it were not for the uncalled for innuendo which has been made against Mr. Higgs.
How many farms did he get?
He has got two, and I hope he will get a third. According to his agreement with the company, he is entitled to this third farm. When the hon. member talks about farms, most of them are about 100 morgen. I wish the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) would go into Zululand and do some pioneering in those fever areas. I have no objection to the Prime Minister coming to the conclusion, in view of the calumny levelled by these gentlemen, that now there should be an enquiry.
I do not think the hon. member who has just sat down has been quite fair. The gentleman concerned in this matter turns out to be a very great friend of his.
And I am very proud of it.
No doubt he is equally proud of the association too, but that is a pride which we cannot join in. But the point is that the chief objection taken to the interest taken by certain individuals or a certain individual has come from hon. members who are sitting behind the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central), and singularly enough, has come from gentlemen who represent Natal portions of the country, where sugar is chiefly grown. The gravest charges have been made by the hon. member down there, and not from over here. They started the hunt, and our friends in these two corners of the House have joined in, as we always shall join in, where the question of the natives’ rights and interests are concerned. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) said he was delighted to see this change of heart. I would like to ask the hon. member to look up the records of the House at the time the Native Affairs Commission was instituted, and he will find that the Labour party moved that the commission should be composed of equal numbers of natives and whites. We wanted the representatives of the natives themselves to be elected by themselves and not selected by the Government, and this was opposed by hon. gentlemen who now are sitting on this side of the House. I understand that the Prime Minister has decided that he will use no persuasion and allow the House to vote as it likes on this question. In other words, he is not going to make it a vote of “no confidence” if the House carries it against him, because one is deeply concerned about this matter. After all, the natives are not able to put up a case for themselves. They never are, and we always have to remember that the native gets the thin end of the stick whenever he is forced into the economic field. We know how it is done. We have sufficient evidence to show that they never have a free choice, and what one has to ask, as a member of Parliament, is who started the ball rolling? Did the natives spontaneously come along to the Government and say, we are not satisfied with this land. We would like to have that land. If that had been the case there might have been something in it, but when it comes from people who we know are not backward in extending their holdings in sugar-growing land, and that the natives have more or less been silent partners to the concern, then we have a right to oppose and think deeply before we agree to it. That is a point I want to put to the Prime Minister, how necessary it is to be supremely careful that we do not do something that may ultimately deprive the natives of their rights. When members like the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) sneer at our attitude on the colour bar, and try to contrast it with our attitude on this question, they have to remember that the thing that concerns the native most is his land, not whether or not he shall be forced into the industrial field; that is not his natural sphere. He does not come into industrial life of his own free will. He is forced by means of taxation and other things to go to some place with which he is not acquainted, and take up walks of life he does not know and does not like. But the land is his natural method of earning a livelihood, and when we join issue with those who try to take that away from the native, we are on perfectly sound ground. In the first place we are acting. I believe, with justice to the natives themselves. In view of the fact that they are gradually being narrowed, first by the growth of their population, and secondly by deliberately cutting off part of their lands as the years go by; being narrowed in opportunities of earning their living, we have to scrutinize very carefully every proposal to take away from the natives—even if you talk about exchange—their means of earning their living on the land. There is another aspect of the matter. The object of the transfer is to enable a certain company to obtain possession of good sugar ground. But why should not the natives have it? When the Beaumont Commission was appointed the Labour Party asked why should not the natives be allowed to grow sugar, and why should whites be allowed to filch the ground because it is suitable for sugar-growing. I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw his amendment because the Select Committee turned this clause down by an overwhelming majority, Mr. Marwick being in a minority of one. All the others were men who have generally stood by the side of the native. In view of the recommendation and the importance of the question I ask the Prime Minister not to go against the Committee’s report.
If I could I would withdraw the motion. We ought not to prejudice the case by discussing it any further.
Item put and negatived.
On item 10,
On the motion of the Minister of Native Affairs, the Chairman put Item 10, proposed to be omitted by the Select Committee.
This clause was struck out, by the Select Committee but I am afraid that it ought to be passed. It refers to a transaction between the Natal Native Trust, which is the Native Affairs Department, and the Department of Lands, in respect to the transfer from the trust to the Onion Government of land in the Umlazi Location which is situated on the Natal Coast. Abort 100 plots were sold in 1895 for residential purposes to Europeans at Amanzimtoti. A railway runs parallel to the coast, and the ground between the line and the coast is hardly of any practical value to the natives as it is sandy. However, there is a great demand by Europeans for this ground for residential purposes. In fact the ground is so good for this purpose that it is said to be valued at £100 per plot. About 300 plots could be laid out between the railway and the coast for residential purposes. The commission which inquired into the matter said that if this land was sold the Europeans would cut through the native area lying between the main road and the railway, So that if it is desired to keep this land out of the location for residential purposes the Government should also take the other block of land—about 3,000 acres—between the main road and the railway. The residential plots would bring in £30,000, and the remainder, reckoned at £4 an acre, £12,000, making a total of £42,000. The question is this. We have to see that when any ground is taken away from the natives we give back to them land at any rate to the same extent. But it is clear that you could hardly get ground to the same extent, so the Lands Department offered the Native Affairs Department £20,000 in cash and 20,000 acres of ground in another district. The difficulty with the Select Committee, as far as I can ascertain, was that its members were not satisfied that the £30,000 would be utilized for getting ground for these natives. The committee wished to know where the ground was to be obtained before it said “Yes.” Naturally it is not such an easy thing to do. All we Say in the Lands Department is that we are: prepared to give the other 20,000 acres not adjacent to this location. It is a question I must leave to the committee to see whether it is reasonable or not, I consider the, natives would get far more benefit than if they retain this strip of country which is of no value whatever. I think I can advise the committee to adopt this transaction.
The Prime Minister has put the position before this committee exactly as it was placed before the select committee. There are 1,000 to 1,200 natives who occupy this land and who will have to be shifted, perhaps forcibly. Before the natives are removed they ought to be taken and shown the land on which they are to be located. That is how the committee felt on the matter, and they were faced with a difficult position. I think about two years ago there was trouble in Natal owing to the natives having to be forcibly removed. We cannot be too careful in dealing with land transactions in which natives are concerned. It is unfair to refer matters like these to the select committee, and ask it to take the onus of evicting natives from the land, and that is what it practically means, and that is a reason the select committee refused to recommend this particular section to the House.
I come here from Natal with a mandate to oppose any further land being added to the proposed native areas and, therefore, I cannot allow this vote to pass without recording a protest. The effect of this transaction will be to add 16,000 acres to the proposed native areas in Natal, and that is quite opposed to the wishes of my constituents and of the people of Natal. There is another aspect. This particular 20,000 acres in the Sundays River valley is not land which is in my constituency, but I believe it adjoins my constituency, and we shall have this native area contiguous with European occupied land in my constituency. I want to know if the interests of these land owners have been considered, because Europeans have strong objections to native areas adjoining their lands as it, depreciates the value of their lands. It is only natural these European owners will feel it very much when they are apprised of the fact that land adjoining theirs has been acquired by the Government for inclusion in the native area. I wish to enter my protest against this transaction going through.
We are taking away 3,000 morgen of native area and naturally we are called upon to see that we restore land to the natives. We are giving 20,000 acres of land in another part where the natives require it, and for a great part are already on this land. We are really not extending the native area in the other part as far as my information goes. In Natal we have certain Crown lands which are within the areas, where, according to the recommendations, my hon. friend will know that either Europeans or natives can buy it. All we are doing here is to say that we shall take away land from your Umlazi location, but we give him 20.000 acres of land in the other location where natives can acquire land.
Then it becomes a native area under the provision of this Bill?
Yes, it becomes a native area.
I want to join in this protest. We feel in Natal there has been a dead set against us to acquire land there and grant it to natives. Here we have an instance of 20,000 acres being acquired for natives as against 4,000 for European acquisition. The native area is thereby increased by 16,000 acres and we, in Natal, have already given up sufficient land for native reserves. We have given up more land in Natal than any other part of South Africa, and I object to any further Crown land being taken in Natal and granted to natives. An injustice is being done to the people of Natal, and for all we know, we may have another Bill next year with further areas being acquired for natives. Take the position of farmers who are adjoining this particular area which, up to the present, has been Crown land. Their farms immediately become depreciated, because it is an admitted fact that where a European farm adjoins a native area that land is not nearly so valuable as land which is purely within a white area. These farmers will find it most difficult, when they come to sell their farms, to secure a ready buyer. You are restricting these unfortunate farmers, whose farms will now adjoin native areas, as the value of their farms will become depreciated, and I feel bound to protest against a further extension of native areas in Natal.
The hon. member (Mr. Nel) is looking at this matter from the aspect of the European. I also do the same. The reason why I am anxious to have this exchange brought about is this: I am informed, first of all, that this land is for agricultural purposes worthless, but it is of immense value to Durban. That is the only place to which Durban can extend.
It is good cotton land.
This 3,000 acres that I get is the only possible extension for Durban, and I am told that it will become one of the nicest suburbs in the future. It is most undesirable to have native land so close to the town, and that is the sole reason why I went so far as to give 20,000 acres in exchange, and £30,000 to the native trust.
It is all very, well to meet the Durbanites, but you are punishing us.
The 20,000 acres which I give in exchange is uninhabited. Surely the claims of Durban, which has the largest European population of any town in Natal, should weigh more than the giving of this tract of ground.
Item agreed to.
On Item 11,
I should like to have an explanation of section 11 from the Prime Minister. It appears, according to this section as if there were an exchange of ground with Malaboch, and that is not the position. A couple of years ago a piece of ground was bought for him in consequence of a promise said to have been made by the old republican Government. It appears here as if he has certain ground, and I should like to know whether Mohlaba has paid the purchase price of the ground and whether the Government did that for him. I should also like to know whether the ground which now reverts to the State, that is, the farms Rietbokvlei, Knoppiesfontein, etc., will be given to settlers as Crown land. Section 4 of the Bill reads—
I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether this ground is regarded as Crown land and whether it will be given out to white people. It is a piece of ground which falls under the area indicated by the Beaumont commission as a piece of ground which subsequently would revert to Malaboch. Therefore, I want to know whether the Minister of Lands will give out this ground to white people. It was said some time ago that it would be given to the Rustenberg insurgents.
It is the old Malaboch location which was reserved as a location for Malaboch under the old republic. He did not live there. They are the upper farms. He was given another location for which the department bought ground, and the upper farms the department is now getting back by exchange, and I can make it available under the ordinary Land Settlement Act.
Item put and agreed to.
Remaining items and the title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; to be considered to-morrow.
Second Order read; Second reading, Natives Taxation and Development Bill.
The main principles of this Bill have, of course, already been accepted by the House when the taxation proposals in regard to natives were agreed to. I shall, therefore, at once proceed to make a few explanatory remarks in regard to the more important sections of the Bill itself. Hon. members will see, in section 1, that taxes, are levied in respect of the calendar year commencing 1st January, 1926. Hon. members will find the particular taxes described in section 2 of the Bill. There is, first, a general tax of £1 on every adult male native. A definition of—
will be found later in the Bill. Then there is a second tax, a local tax of 10s. in every respect of every hut or dwelling in a native location on the native occupier thereof. There is also a special definition of “native location” in the definition part of the Bill, The reason for the levy of the local tax is to impose an additional burden on the native who enjoys the privilege of occupation of Crown land, and to enact some return for that benefit which he enjoys. Natives who hold land in a location under quitrent title will not pay the 10s. The local tax of 10s. and the quitrent which the Government receives will be used specially for the benefit of the natives. Then in section 4 we deal with the exemptions, the classes of natives who will be exempted from this tax. These exemptions I think hon. members will find self-explanatory. Hon. members will see that a certain measure of discretion is allowed to the Receiver of Revenue in Clause 4. The reason is that in some cases the native may be exempted from the general tax and the Receiver of Revenue may find that he is receiving the benefit of occupation of Crown land and, therefore, will have to pay the local tax. The next important section is section 6. That deals with the returns by owners of land on which natives reside. That has been found necessary in order to facilitate the collection of tax, especially in the case of farmers and companies and other private individuals.
You have to give them notice; why don’t you fix the date?
I do not think any difficulty has been found in practice. A policeman generally comes round and hands the form to the farmer or occupier and it is collected again. In section 9 hon. members will see that two methods for the recovery of tax are laid down. The magistrate of a district in which a native resides, if the native is three months in arrear, may issue a writ of attachment against the property of the defaulter. If there is not sufficient property for the satisfaction of the tax, he may be arrested without a warrant and charged with failing to pay the tax. In those areas to which the provisions of section 7 are applied, if the native has failed to produce a receipt, he may be charged if the facts justify, with failure to pay the tax. Hon. members will see that failure to pay is made a criminal offence, but provision is made that as soon as the tax is paid the defaulter is automatically released, so that imprisonment is really with the object of getting payment of the tax itself.
It is a long time, three months, too long.
As soon as he pays he is discharged. Then sections 11 and 12 provide for the disposal of that portion of the proceeds of taxes which do not accrue to the State. I have explained in the Committee of Ways and Means how it is proposed to deal with the proceeds of these taxes. Four-fifths will go to tile Consolidated Revenue Fund. The local tax of 10s. and the quitrent will be laid over in the area where collected. The balance of the local tax and the one-fifth of the general tax will go to the Native Development Fund in the manner which hon. members have been informed or for the benefit of the natives themselves. In; view of the fact that these contributions are being made from taxation levied by the Union Government, the provisions of the 1920 Act which provides for the rebate of a tax which the natives might have paid will now be withdrawn under this legislation. Of course, hon. members will tee that the Minister of Native Affairs, in consultation with the Native Affairs Commission, will dispose of the proceeds of the tax which goes to the native development fund. I gave the figures to the House on a former occasion which we hope to get from this taxation, that is £1,125,000 from the general tax, of which the treasury will get £900,000, leaving the balance in the native development fund, and from the ordinary tax we expect to receive about £290,000. Provision is also made for the repayment of the loans which the treasury have already made for the advancement of native teachers’ salaries, according to the arrangement of which hon. members are aware. The amount now is about £160,000. I am now being pressed in view of the fact that legislation would go through to provide £100,000 on loan this year, and the treasury is doing its best to find the money, in anticipation of the amount being refunded over a period of years. In section 15 hon. members will see that there we deal with a matter which is really extraneous to the object of the Bill. Opportunity has-been taken of regularizing and giving effect to the system of tribal levies. These, levies are made annually for specific purposes such as dipping or for the object, of allowing natives to buy land. If it is shown that it is in the interests of the natives, the Minister may do this and the proceeds will go direct to these natives. With regard to the definitions, I think the most important one is the definition of a native location. It has been made to include all land provided by the State for the residence of natives and in respect of which no charge for occupation is made. The intention is that the local tax will be regarded in the nature of a return for the occupation of land which the native has from the State free of charge. Then. I come to the schedule of repeals. The first is Act 37 of 1884, the Act relating to the hut tax. In the Free State the position of the coloured people will remain unaffected. They will continue to be taxed. The Union legislation repeal includes the provisions of the Financial Adjustment Acts passed for the rectification of certain anomalies that formerly existed. At soon as this is passed, the Governor-General will be recommended to, repeal the proclamations imposing the taxation in force in the Transkeian territories. These are the principal features of the Bill, and I now move the second reading.
As, the Minister has just said, this question has already been discussed in Committee of Ways and Means, but I think it would be rather unfortunate if we allowed it to go through without any discussion to-day. We have had other items dealing with European taxation which this House has discussed at, length, and I think in common fairness to the natives, we should let them understand that when Matters, taxation or otherwise, affecting their interests, come before this House, that we also take an interest in such measures. Otherwise it may be said by the natives in the country that as long as natives are taxed nobody represents them down here and nobody speaks on their behalf. I think we all realize that the reason for this taxation is that it is considered by the Government necessary to bring about uniformity of native taxation in this country. And I think it should be pointed out to the natives that really this was the policy of the Government that has just ‘left office, and I think the country and the House has realized that it is in the interests of the natives that they should have uniform taxation and that the present Government is also bringing forward measure? Providing for uniformity of European taxation. I, think the natives should also be advised that we are trying to bring about not only uniformity of taxation, but uniformity in the ‘general administration of native affairs in South Africa, because I understand from the Prime Minister, that a Bill has been published already, or is about to be published, dealing with the general administration of the natives in this country. I think one factor should be clear to the country and it is a very pleasing factor, and that is that the question of native taxation has riot been made a party matter in this House. I think we all realize that questions affecting the natives should never be made matters of party criticism in this House. We have discussed the question or racialism for a number of years, but, personally, I have always felt that we have no such thing as racialism between English and Dutch. That is a passing phase of the troubles times through which we have passed, and the only racial question we have to face is the one between white and black, and it is absolutely necessary, in dealing with matters in which the natives are interested, that we should all realize that no matter what our race or party may be, the native questions should be entirely above party politics. I think that any political party which tries to make capital out of the native question in this country, is not doing its duty to the white population or to the native population, and I trust that the native questions that come before the House in future will always be discussed in the manner in which we are dealing with this question of native taxation to-day. We have seen, during the past few months, a good deal of legislation brought forward here which affects the natives very directly and in many cases very adversely. Even this taxation measure is going to hit a large-section who have not been taxed in the past. I saw recently in one of the papers that supports the party opposite, that next session is to be called the—
I hope the Prime Minister will realize that to bring forward a large amount of legislation affecting the natives in two successive sessions is probably not going to be conducive of good feeling among the natives. The natives have an expression “hamba gahle” which means—
and I think, considering the amount of legislation that has been put before the House this session, directly affecting the natives, the Prime Minister should be careful next session not to overburden his programme with too much legislation. The native takes a long time to grasp a thing, and is slow to take action, and if you are going to overburden him with a lot of legislation—it may be in his interests, but he is prejudiced against change—if you are going to bring forward a lot of legislation that affects him, naturally he will be suspicious. I think the Prime Minister and the Native Affairs Department should be very careful, and go step by step. I believe the real reason the Act of 1917 failed to pass this House was that the Government took on too heavy a programme. I would like to discuss the details of the Bill to a certain extent. We have been told that the natives will now be induced to form councils. This local development fund will give them the necessary funds, and the necessary impetus to form local councils. I have gone carefully into the Act of 1920, which provides for the forming of these councils and I think that Act was far too advanced for the body of natives who we are now legislating for. Even to-day, in the native territories, where we have had a council for 25 years, our system is not nearly so advanced as the administration provided for and the powers given in that particular Act. One thing I fear is that our natives in the territories, who are used to our council system, when they see these greater powers being placed in the hands of untutored natives who have never had any councils, may be inclined to be dissatisfied, and they will want the same powers as are given to these newly-formed bodies. We have to realize in parts of this country that the natives are very largely controlled by their chiefs. The tribal system still prevails in certain areas, and I am afraid, under the 1920 Act which gives considerable power to the native bodies the chiefs may not have used the powers advisedly. When the natives are called on to form these councils, they will elect their chiefs to represent them. That was our experience in the Transkei, and the chiefs are not so advanced as many of the commoners, and we found the commoners coming and pushing, the chiefs out. We have had these councils for a number of years, and I think they should be advisory. We find the chiefs have not the power they had many years ago, and in deciding along what lines the future policy of these councils should develop, I think the Prime Minister should consider carefully what power and authority he is going to give to the chiefs; whether to continue the system now prevailing in Natal, where, I understand, the chiefs have almost absolute power, or whether he is going to follow the lines in the native territories of allowing the gradual evolution and education of the natives, has tended to push the chiefs aside, and place them in line with development that has taken place in other parts of the world where education has placed every man more or less on a common level.
I do not think there is anything in the Bill in regard to councils. It would be better if the hon. member would confine himself to the Bill.
This development fund is to be controlled by these councils.
No, the Minister controls them.
I do not think the hon. member should go too far into the constitution of the Councils. A more appropriate time would be on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.
I would like to discuss the question of the native development fund which is a new departure. The native should be told how this fund is to be administered, so that he can be satisfied that the money will not go into the Government Coffers, but that he will receive some benefit from it. So far we have not been told upon what lines the fund will be administered. The natives should know exactly what is in the mind of the Prime Minister with regard to their development and how the money is to be utilized. I wish to support the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick). In the Transkei as well as in Natal we have a large mass of uneducated natives, and unless we are careful we shall be setting up the red natives against the Christian natives. The red native will hear that the native teacher is being paid more and will say to him “You are demanding more taxes which we have to pay so that your children who are teachers shall be paid more.” At my election meetings when educated natives have asked for a higher salary, uneducated natives have objected on the ground that that would mean more taxes. I am not quite sure whether the money is to be used entirely for education, but it is essential that there should be development in agricultural and other matters. I would suggest that a capital fund be created for the benefit of the natives, large numbers of whom are contributing towards Union Government funds. I know of cases in which natives have invested £500 in Union loan certificates. A capital sum is needed for development purposes, and if such a fund were instituted the natives would feel that Parliament had some interest in them and that would bring about a better feeling between the Europeans and the natives. Unfortunately in the last few years the feeling between the blacks and whites has not improved. The 1913 Act gave the natives the idea that we desired to seize their land. The only way to allay this feeling of suspicion and distrust is to assist the native to develop in his own Country. I hope something will be done towards that end.
On what Times?
Irrigation schemes, for instance. If the natives had the same facilities for raising money from the Land Bank for fencing and other purposes that the Europeans enjoy, I think that would give a great many more friends amongst the natives than we have to-day. We have two agricultural institutions in the native territories and more should be started. We have at these agricultural institutions two or three Free State boys and natives from Bechuanaland, Rhodesia and Natal. Now that the natives are being taxed directly money should be extended in the direction I have indicated. A great many natives send their children to be trained as teachers, as that is the only calling open to the educated native with the exception of a few who act as interpreters or who go into attorney’s offices. Those who do the latter frequently become agitators. If the money is utilized to help develop the natives in their own areas the natives will welcome it, and in a few years they may be prepared even to ask for higher taxation if they realize the benefits to be derived therefrom.
The Native Development Fund is certainly not intended to be spent merely upon ordinary book learning. I think everybody will admit that although it is necessary that the natives should have an opportunity of having his children given ordinary book learning he should also be taught what agricultural and industrial development mean for him. It is with a view also to supplying this want which has been hitherto ignored that money is required. It is intended to utilize this fund for agricultural, industrial and irrigation development, and on whatever else may be necessary. I think what has happened during the last few years has sufficiently convinced us all that it is very necessary that the native should be taught to make better use of his land and that is why the department has already set about trying to have demonstrators and to increase their number so as to be able to pay attention to the agricultural position in the Transkei and so forth. I certainly think we shall have to make provision for the natives sharing in the facilities of getting the necessary credit from time to time. Unfortunately, to my mind, a great obstacle in the path of the native so far has been that he has not been able to give the same security as the European, and my hon. friend will know what the position is to a great extent, in the Transkeian Territorities, with regard to native holdings, It is a matter which will have to engage the attention of the department to see that his holdings are on such a basis that he will be in a better position to get credit if credit is required. I don’t think it has ever been the policy of withholding from the natives, facilities for acquiring loans where required. What has hampered the native in that respect has not been the policy of the Government, but certain factors in the native national life, as compared with the European. I think we are realizing it more and more that we ought to do everything that can reasonably be done to assist the natives in his developments, both as to his intellectual development, and his economic position in South Africa. Unless we do that I fear we shall have a constant source of friction and dissatisfaction with the native, which, instead of making him a co-helper of the European in South Africa, will make him in a frame of mind of dissatisfaction which will hamper the white man.
What about the colour bar?
We will not speak about that. I am positive next session, when I come before Parliament to ask hon. gentlemen on the other side to assist me in laying down and following out a definite policy for the country, my hon. friend will be anxious to stand by my side, and he will see, after all, the colour bar is not such a bad thing. The misfortune is that unfortunately the question had to be raised this session out of the real connection where it should have been. That is, as a part in the framework of a general native policy, and I feel confident, when once that is properly assigned to its place in the proper policy, both the white man and the native will see that what I ask is nothing more than is absolutely fair. I may say this here, and I hope I am not raising a point of dispute, but I want to remind you that the native policy of to-day, the policy which is being followed this moment and will be followed in its further development, is to secure to the native, within his own territory, every possible scope of employment for him and the white man shall not be allowed in there to oust him from those territories. After all, it is not asking much. When it concerns the white man’s territory, we take the power to see if the occasion requires it, that the native shall understand he is within the white man’s territory, and he must give him a chance. I don’t want to go further into this. The policy of the Government is, and I have always insisted on this, and I insist upon it to-day as strongly as ever, that what we allow to ourselves we shall allow to the natives, and what we allow to the natives we must allow to ourselves.
Does that extend to the extension of his land also?
The white man cannot buy in the native territory.
The native cannot live in the limited territory he has now.
That was the principle adopted in 1913. The whole land segregation policy of the Government started with the general principle that the native was to be secure in his own land, and the white man secure in his land. I admit your native has not been satisfactorily dealt with up to now. When that law was accepted in 1913 it was said to the native—
I am fully determined we are going to comply with what we held out to the natives at that time. It is going to be a part of my endeavour to put the native question on a proper footing, and see he gets what was promised to him in 1913 as far as land is concerned. We cannot possibly think of discriminating between the European and the native in the assistance we, as a Government, give to the people of this country to help them to develop their land and themselves. I don’t want to go any further this afternoon. I only wanted to refer to the question of this development fund, which is to assist the land and industrial development of the native, and to supply the necessary want of a school for the natives where they desire it.
Under the Bill it is proposed to impose two different kinds of taxes, a general tax, which is to take the place of the natives’ present contribution to revenue, and which is fixed at the same amount which the natives in the Free State are paying to-day, namely £1 per annum. In Natal the present tax is 14s. per hut, plus 5s. per hut as a dipping levy, roughly 19s. per hut in native areas. In addition there is now to be a local tax of 10s. This 10s. tax is to be used in the promotion of the well-being and education of the natives. As the hon. member for Tembuland (Mr. Payn) has pointed out, the natives have in some areas not yet manifested any desire for education.
Hasn’t he other wants besides education in that area?
I quite agree that they do desire certain improvements in their lot, but not to any large extent, not to the extent to which they will be prepared to suffer increased taxation. There is a proviso to that section of the Bill dealing with the local tax to the effect that it shall not apply to natives who pay quit-rent. I should like the Minister to consider whether that might not be extended, so as to suspend the tax in areas in which the natives have not manifested a wish for education or improvement such as is designed in the section of the Act which specifies for what purposes the allocation of that portion of the tax shall be applied.
He only pays it in an area where you give him land free to occupy.
Or in the native reserves, for instance, in Zululand which are set apart for native use.
Is not that reasonable?
I think it is reasonable, except that we have got to bear in mind that in those grants we made to the natives they were made to them with the idea that they were to use those lands communally, but the intention was that in course of time they were to get individual tenure, and, although we may say to the native that he has to pay 10s. per annum for the use of the land which the Government has given to him, he, to some extent, has already realized that that land is set apart and dedicated to his use by a trust which makes the land inalienable for any other purpose, and I do think that where a council does not exist, or the natives have not yet manifested any desire for education we should take, power to suspend the application of the local tax to those areas. I suggest this to the Minister, because I think that if we go too rapidly in taxing these natives for their own education, you will find an acute feeling springing up in the native areas against the more educated and civilized natives, and that would react upon the very progress which the Minister has in mind. Amongst the exemptions proposed by the Minister there is one which exempts any native who satisfies the receiver that, in consequence of his regular attendance at an educational institution, he has been precluded from earning wages which would enable him to pay the tax. I suggest that that exemption is going to lead to a certain amount of conflict between the interests of the landowner and the natives who are living on his land. There will be quite a considerable number of natives who will assert their right to attend such an educational institution as is contemplated here. The farmer on his part will feel that natives of that age owe him some obligation in connection with labour. He provides them, or their fathers with land, and the use of grazing free, and he will feel that some return is necessary from the natives who are at that particular age, and I do think that, if this section is not carefully worded, we shall provoke a certain amount of friction in the farming areas against the operation of that portion of the Bill. The aim of the Bill is to bring about uniformity and in that respect I think the Minister is fortified by the opinion of a native congress or conference which was summoned by the Government in September, 1923, where the natives, although not fully representative of the backward classes, passed this resolution—
That came from educated natives, natives, I think, who might be looked upon as likely to oppose any taxation unfair in its incidence upon the people. Natal was represented by W. Ndhlovu, W. Msimang, Rev. M. Kuzwayo, Rev. S. Majozi. There will still remain a considerable body of feeling amongst natives that the uniformity is in itself not altogether justifiable. We are repealing the law of 1875 of Natal under which the natives were obliged to pay 14s. per annum per hut. Prior to that they paid a tax of 7s. a hut, and it has always been asserted—with what truth I cannot say—that when the tax was doubled they were given an assurance that the tax would not at any future time be increased. I think a considerable number of natives of the backward kind will assert that that was the understanding. Those who pledged themselves to uniformity by this resolution, as they were educated natives of the Free State and the Transvaal, although Natal was represented, were probably not fully aware of the controversy which had gone on in Natal in regard to the alleged promise that the amount of hut-tax which since 1875 has been levied at the rate of 14s. per hut would not be increased. In connection with the allocation of the tax there is one matter of considerable importance which I should like to impress upon the attention of the Minister of Native Affairs. That is that among the bodies to whom under the Bill the local tax is to be allocated, I should like to see the Natal Native Trust included, because that body in the past has been constituted as the trustee of native development in Natal. The Minister takes power to receive the proportion of the tax where no local council exists, and I fear that the administration of the tax in that manner, in a wholesale manner, may lead to a certain amount of dissatisfaction on the part of the natives of the relative local areas which contribute the tax. A native of some specified area in Zululand contributes his 10s. tax, and that tax, instead of being used in his particular area, is, owing to the absence of a local council, put into the native development fund and used in such a general way that he will not receive the advantage of its being returned to him, or in any case he will not perceive the operation. In that way a certain amount of dissatisfaction will spring up as to the allocation and subsequent spending of the money. I think the Natal Native Trust and the Zululand Native Trust should have this tax allocated to them with the provision that they should apply the tax to the area from which it is derived
It will remain in the province; the hon. member will see that.
Yes, but in order to avoid any possible dissatisfaction against the tax, if we could go one step further and make some provision for the application of that tax in the area from which it is derived, it would be a great gain. Because in the backwardness of the natives in Natal it will be many years before these people are fit for native councils. We should let the natives have the benefit of the tax which they have contributed to the revenue. Section 14 almost suggests to one’s mind that in future the non-payment of the tax is to be only a civil matter. In the past it has been a matter punishable by the magistrate, and any native failing to pay the tax on a given date has been treated, as a tribesman of his chief, in the old patriarchal manner, for disobedience to the chief, in not bringing the tribute to the Government on the due date, and in that simple manner it has come to be a form of discipline which the natives readily assent to and would not find amiss. I hope we are not going to make the collecting of the tax cumbersome by making this a civil matter. It is true that in section 16 power is given to the Governor-General to make regulations and I hope under that power it may still be possible, in purely native and tribal areas, to deal with the natives in their tribal state, and where the native fails to appear with his tax on the due date, he may be dealt with in the old customary manner.
Section 9 lays down two methods for the recovery of the tax.
Another matter is the question of the identification of natives. I may say, incidentally, that it has been proposed that there should be a universal registration of natives in the Union, but in one portion of the native affairs commission report of 1923 they suggest that in connection with the uniform taxation proposals that it might be possible to introduce a system of registration which would obviate any such general system of registration as was proposed. I should like the Minister to consider this phase of the matter in connection with this Bill. The Native Affairs Commission stated—
In that connection, I have had brought to my notice by Mr. R. Compton Pechey—one of my constituents—a system that is very much in use in large works in England for the identification of the workmen by photography. The photograph and the height of the workman are taken in one operation, and I should like to be able to submit particulars of this system to the Minister’s office with a view to his considering whether with the uniform system of taxation, some such system of photography would not provide a complete safeguard against the very many instances of impersonation and the misuse of tax receipts which, to my knowledge, have gone on in the past. By this means it might be possible to effect the registration of the native people throughout the Union, which would prove most advantageous and subserve an economy much larger than the mere identification of tax payers. There can be no doubt that the universal registration of the natives would be a great good. At Durban we have a complete index of every native employed there, so that they can be identified. The family totem or clan name, father’s and chief’s name are all recorded. It is done in quite an inexpensive manner, and with the assistance of photography the Minister would be able to have a system which would assist his administration very considerably. This can be done in a manner to which the native could not take any exception. Another point I would ask the Minister to consider is the introduction of this Bill in such a way as to carry the natives with us. I suggest that farmers’ associations throughout the Union should be given the fullest information with regard to the legislation, and they be asked to co-operate so that the information can be disseminated among the natives in a way that they will understand. We shall need to rally to our assistance the help of everyone who can reassure the natives that nothing but their own good is aimed at, and that no sort of injustice or interference is intended, but that they are being asked merely to pay what is considered a fair contribution, and that a portion of the money is to be utilized for their own benefit.
When I heard the Prime Minister say that he hoped next year to come forward with his policy of native segregation, a ray of light went up in my mind. I am sure the Prime Minister will agree with me that if there is one question which should be raised out of the arena of party politics, it is the native question. I regret that when we started this session that the offer of the Leader of the Opposition to co-operate was not accepted. Will the Prime Minister ask the Leader of the Opposition to co-operate, so that if possible they can come forward next year, with legislation which will be acceptable to both parties? Parliament cannot deal with the native question in one session or in one Act. I would like to compare this question with a huge building that must be erected and will take years to complete. If the foundation is properly laid then the one Government can start and the next one could continue at the building. With all parties co-operating such a foundation could be laid.
The hon. member must confine himself to the Bill.
The Bill is on the native question.
I trust the Prime Minister will be able to do what I have suggested, and will ask the Leader of the Opposition to co-operate with him during the recess on this difficult question.
I shall certainly do so, and I hope he will comply.
There are only one or two remarks I want to make on the Bill at this stage. They have reference to clauses 7 and 9. We find in clause 7 of this Bill a provision which is unprecedented, and if there is a precedent for it, it is a bad one. It provides that a native, who fails on demand to produce his receipt for tax, or his certificate of exemption or extension, may be arrested without warrant on the spot, and by whom, sir? Not only by any policeman but by any native chief or native headman recognized by the Government. I think that might be the subject of very considerable modification when we come to discuss it in detail. In clause 9 a very considerable penalty is provided for the native who fails to pay any tax within three months of the date it becomes payable. He is liable to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a period of three months. That is going rather far in this matter, although the same person cannot be sentenced a second time to a term of imprisonment for failure to pay the same debt. So far from the debt being a civil matter as the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) refers to it, it becomes a criminal matter from the beginning. The time has arrived to do away with these drastic penalties and methods and I hope the Minister will see his way when we come to it in Committee to give more convincing reasons than are apparent now, or modify them considerably. I mention the matter now in order to give the Minister time to consider the matter and consult with his advisers from the native department.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee to-morrow.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
Third Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported yesterday on Head 1, Railways and Harbours Estimates; upon which an amendment had been moved by Maj. G. B. van Zyl: To reduce the amount by £5, from the salary of the Minister of Railways and Harbours, £2,500, under the sub-head “Minister’s Office and Office of the Railway Board”, £12,531.]
I would like to call the Minister’s attention to a matter which has arisen in Johannesburg at Park Station, where the porters engaged at the station have, I believe, been complaining—if I am not mistaken they have sent a petition to the Minister—about the engagement of two coloured porters at that station. I realize it will be very necessary as time goes on to accustom people to the position and policy that has been taken up, but, there are prejudices which have to be got over, and I believe there is a certain amount of nervousness amongst some of the porters at that station. I would like the Minister, when he replies, to inform the Committee whether he is aware of the position, what complaints have been made and what he proposes to do in the matter.
I would like the Minister in his reply to give us some indication as to what he proposes to do with the report of the Workshops Commission. Perhaps the Minister will state whether he will give the House an opportunity of discussing the report before the Government come to a decision. I would also like to support the members who have already spoken in regard to the large amounts which have been contributed from revenue to the betterment fund, more especially in regard to the amount of nearly a million for me purchase of electric locomotives. When this matter was before the Select Committee in 1924, of which the Minister was a member, there was no more persistent critic of the policy of the Government in those days than the hon. gentleman. I hope, now that he is in a position to carry some of his ideas into practice, he will see that no more money than is necessary is diverted to that purpose. I would also like to say that it has the support of the Auditor-General, who says that this money should only be diverted for the purpose of wasted assets, and in his opinion, this money for the purchase of electric locomotives was not for wasted assets. There is also a long outstanding question. When the present Minister of Finance was chairman of the railway committee in 1923, they brought up a report on that old question of the £13,000,000. I would like to ask the Minister what is the position of the Select Committee on railways. In some cases they have brought up reports which seem to have been ignored by the railway board. Then there is this question of coal rates. There has been a great demand from the coast towns for lower rates on coal, it is contended by the Transvaal that on the Reef alone something like from £750,000 to a £1,000,000 profit is made on the carriage of coal from the coal mines to the Reef and Pretoria. There is a strong demand that the rates from the coal mines to the Reef and Pretoria should be reduced.
This report of the Workshops Commission has only been put in our hands to-day. It does not lie within my province to criticize the commission, because, naturally, they are all experts, and I know nothing about it, I admit, so far as the expert portion is concerned; but I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to one important phase here which the commission say is a most important factor, and that is the factor which excludes from consideration all localities with higher rates of pay. The existing workshops can deal fairly economically with the maintenance of rolling stock, but they point out that the machinery is out of date. We have pointed that out to the Government as regards Bloemfontein time after time, that some of the machinery at the Bloemfontein workshops is out of date. In fact, one machine sent out in 1861 is still doing duty. I find that the average cost of maintaining engines in South Africa is £1,011 as against £1,246 in New South Wales where they have nothing but white labour. The commission deals with the factors of hours and conditions and says there must be suitable land for workshops. Then they talk about Salt River. There is no further room for extension there, unless you go into the sea or take land which has been reclaimed. This is the point I really want to make, that if new railway workshops are to be built they should be built in the interior, for this reason, the ports do not keep our railways going; it is the interior that keeps them going. If you are going to put down a graving dock or one for building ships I say put it in ports, but if you are going to have railway workshops build them in the interior. If you go into the Public Gardens you will see a statute of Rhodes with his arms outstretched, saying—
He is pointing to the north. There is no doubt that the vigorous people of South Africa live in the north; the future of the country lies in the new and vigorous north and not in the piebald south. The railways are being paid for in this country by the mines and the Transvaal and by the producers in the north. If you are going to lay out a new township in Colenso and if the railway men are to live there all by themselves stewing in their own juice and cut off from everyone else you are going to have a pretty hot time from everyone else, including members from the Free State and Transvaal; we are going to “kick up a devil of a row.” The Government should not accept this report and they should decide to make the Pretoria workshops bigger and the Bloemfontein workshops bigger. Bloemfontein is the place to build your coaches; they do not crack if they are built there. Cape Town, the great city of Cape Town, has not even offered to give more land or cheaper electric power. They are waiting for the Government to come along and lay down the power; you are spoon-fed down here. I hope the Minister will take a long view of this—a view as long as Bloemfontein or Pretoria. The coast ports live on the north. You could not keep half your coast towns going—Muizenberg and Cape Town would starve—but for the north. I say keep your Salt River slums; but do not ask us to put railway men in them. In Bloemfontein we have provided beautiful homes for the men, and Pretoria has done the same. Any new workshops should be built in the north in Bloemfontein particularly.
I quite agree with what the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) has said. Usually when a member gets up it is said that he is out to benefit his own province. In this case it is not so. The point here is that if workshops have to be built that they should be built where the raw materials are to make the component parts. Pretoria, possibly also Bloemfontein, are the places suggested. They are the centres from which the articles when they are produced can be distributed all over the country. I do not agree with the commission that the workshops should be built here or in Natal. They say that the labour is cheaper here because the cost of living is cheaper but, my experience of Cape Town is that as soon as one comes here one is attacked on all sides and living is much more expensive here than with us. The commission argues incorrectly that the cost of living of the work people here and in Natal will be cheaper than with us in the north
A jackal praises his own tail.
Yes, that is usually so, but I hope that when the time comes to build workshops that the House will have a proper opportunity to discuss the matter to see what is best for the country. I do not think that at the moment we are in a position to spend so much money because as soon as the workshops are established more will be spent on the work that has to be done and the feeling of the public is that to-day it is in the first place desirable to reduce the rates and that is what everybody was looking for to-day. The farming population is hoping for reduction of the rates and the Minister must be very careful to not lightly enter upon big schemes which the country cannot stand. We find to-day that the principle is adopted—I do not say it is a wrong principle, I think it is right—to employ white men on the railways. We are accused by the other side of the House of being opposed to it but I just want to say that that is a reproach which we take for what it is worth. Ever since 1913 the foundation has been laid for the use of white labour on the railway and since that time it has always increased. Slowly the number of white men has been increased. Now the present Minister of Railways during the past year has employed nearly 9,000 more white people. What is the result if the white labour is so suddenly increased? The Minister has himself acknowledged that owing to the increased cost in connection herewith the railway rates must remain unchanged. The policy means a relief for a portion of the population but that another portion suffers through it. The tax payer, the farmer and other people who import goods or use the railways to transport produce must pay for it. I am in favour of white labour being used where the revenue permits it but we must take care that we do nothing which is uneconomical for the State and unsound.
I would like to support in the main the remarks made by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow). It has been a bit of a surprise to me, when I read the names of the commissioners, that they should make a recommendation that workshops should be built in a certain district because a lower wage is operating there, and that there should be a new township formed where the workshops arc erected. It is a well known principle in engineering practice that new works should be established in centres of population, where there are educational facilities and other amenities of life for the families of the workmen. Not only so, but it seems to me that in recommending that the workshops should be built where the lowest wages are paid, the commission are recommending the establishment of permanent work on a temporary basis. Wages are not always going to differ in different parts of the country, and whether the levelling is up or down is not now under discussion, there is no question, however, but there will be a levelling and that has been recognized by the Railway Administration for a good many years. Mr. Burton, during the administration of the railways, in his various conferences with the staff and the trade unions, recognized the fact that there could not be continual differences in the wages paid the same class of work throughout the railway system. There is no difference in the cost of living, and there is no reason why different wages should exist. There are two ridiculous things which the commission are recommending, and I sincerely hope the Minister will not follow these two recommendations. I am going to give the Minister a tip—I believe that is the racing word. Build your workshops in Germiston. That is the Clapham junction of this country. The largest junction of South Africa, where the lines converge from everywhere. A distinguished visitor recently visited Germiston, and in the station he said to me—
I am not saying this because I am the member for Germiston, I will tell the House a well known fact: Before I had any connection with Germiston, and before I had thought of coming to Parliament at all, I discussed this matter with Mr. David Hendrie, the late chief mechanical engineer of the railways, and he agreed with me that Germiston was the centre where the workshops should be built. There is another point that I would like the Minister to consider, namely, the granting of excursion fares to workmen, when they get their annual leave—not only railway men but all workmen. Most employers now give their workmen 12 days’ leave in the year, and it generally includes three week-ends. But all the men cannot go on their holidays when excursions are running. My suggestion is that employers should issue certificates stating that a man is in their employ and is on his annual holiday, and production of this certificate should entitle the holder and his family to excursion fares. Those men who are so unfortunate as to have their holidays when excursion facilities are not available are compelled to spend their time kicking their heels in their own town, and the weak-minded among them probably drift to the “pub,” with the result that they return to work no better than if they had had no holiday at all. The granting of this concession will be a blessing to thousands of working class families.
It is just as well that I should reply to the points already raised in order to check the eloquence of hon. members in regard to the Workshops Commission’s report, and the merits or demerits of the various localities for the establishment of workshops. No decision of any kind has been taken up to the present on that point, so I would ask hon. members not to waste time in discussing the matter. It is no small matter for the Government to take a decision on a matter involving the spending of millions of pounds.
They wish to give you a little advice.
I fully appreciate the advice, but only wish to say that when the shops are established the directions contained in the Act of Union) will be carried out, and business principles observed. I am not going to say whether I agree with all the commission’s conclusions, but the report is a very valuable one and gives proof of most careful investigation.
The commission lays down very bad principles that will not be accepted over here.
On the whole all members will agree that excellent work has been done by the Commission and that the members of the commission deserve the thanks of the country;
Explain what you mean by business, principles.
ï think the hon. member will forgive me if I do not enter on that interesting subject to-night. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) has built up a case against the administration on certain information which he thinks he has regarding the financial position, but if he had taken the trouble to study the “Gazette” in which the figures of the financial year were given, he would have found that he is wrong in the estimates he has made. I regret that it should be so, for, unfortunately, the forecast I gave in the Budget statement have proved not to be correct. We have had washaways and in order to restore our bridges and permanent way, we were bound to spend a very large sum of money. It is only right that I should indicate to the House the actual position at the close of the financial year on March 31, last. In my Budget statement I intimated that we expected the revenue to amount to £23,196,816, but the actual revenue was £23,255,738, so that the revenue exceeded the estimate by £58,922. The estimated expenditure was £22,627,781, but the actual expenditure was £22,868,513, so there was an increase of expenditure of £240,732. The railway surplus at the end of the year was £387,225 instead of an estimated surplus of £569,035. The harbours show a surplus of £368,764 and the steamships of £9,070. The final result is that we have a surplus of £765,059, but as there was an accumulated deficit carried forward from the previous year of £770,244, we closed the financial year with a deficit of £5,185. The hon. member raised a point which is a very important one—the step taken in the Budget of providing £250,000 towards the reduction of interest bearing capital. Both he and the hon. member, for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) have raised the question of the legal position, and asked whether we shall introduce legislation to legalize it. The whole question has been referred to the law advisers. In view of the terms of section 127 of the South Africa Act, the law advisers have definitely expressed the opinion that no legislation is necessary and that the administration is entitled to set aside out of revenue amounts towards the reduction of the interest bearing capital. The reference to this question in the Act of Union is as follows—
Our capital debt has grown to such an extent as to give the greatest cause for concern.
You are investing your money at 4 per, cent. that is what it comes to.
I shall explain how we deal with it. We are paying four and a half million pounds from revenue in interest and the increase in interest this year is £279,000. In a big concern like ours we are bound to expend large sums on capital. It was about-£6,000,000 last year and this year will be no exception, in fact, with the purchase of the New Cape Central railway, it will be more. This interest must be found by the users of the railway from year to year and the time has come to face the position and to contribute from revenue a proportion towards the reduction of capital debt. I do not propose paying the money to the Public Debt Commissioners, but in financing our loan requirements we shall ask the treasury for a quarter of a million pounds less so that the capital account will get the benefit. No interest will be payable on that money spent from revenue on capital expenditure. That is the best way of dealing with it.
Keep the machine going that is the best way.
We should also look to this great growth of national railway debt, and the large proportion revenue has to contribute towards this interest.
Have you not a renewal fund?
It is really depreciation in another form.
No, it is not. It means spending money from revenue on capital expenditure for which you are not paying interest and which relieves’ the capital account of interest.
And investing your money at 4 per cent.
I gathered the impression from the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) that he wanted to show that the administration were hiding their profits in certain funds like the renewals fund. His point was in reality I think, that we had a big surplus of £1,000,000 that we were hiding it in different funds, and were not giving the public the benefit of reduced bates. That is an extraordinary statement and reflects very seriously on the Administration of my predecessor because he was responsible for the policy I am carrying on.
You are not doing enough.
I thought I was being criticized because I was doing too much.
It is also a reflection on the General manager and chief accountant. If we were not carrying out the law these officials and the administration will be called over the coals by the Auditor-General.
It rests with the Minister. You must take the responsibility.
The terms of the Act must be carried out, and if that is not done, hon. members may lay their finger on whatever item they think. I was asked by the hon. member for Pretoria (East) (Mr. Giovanetti) what my position was with regard to the resolutions of the Select Committee. I have the greatest respect for that body, and will treat their resolutions with respect, but I am not going to bind myself that everyone of those resolutions will be carried out.
We want you to consider them.
Oh, certainly. The hon. member raised the further point regarding our contributions to the renewal funds and thought our contribution of one and a half millions was on too generous a scale. His complaint was that we were debiting payments against the renewal fund which we should not have done. I take it he means we should be getting it from the capital, account. If we do err, I hope it, will be on the side of making greater debits against revenue rather than against capital account. The chief accountant is there, and the hon. member places great reliance on the work of the chief accountant. I agree with him. It is an important function. He is there to see that the allocations are correct, and if he does not agree with any of them he is always present at the Select Committee meetings and has the opportunity of, replying to questions and of tendering evidence. Therefore there is nothing to hide as regards the debiting of the renewal fund.
In these matters you can overrule the chief accountant I did it more than once.
With regard to this criticism that we are debiting the renewals fund with too large a proportion of our purchases, I can only say I don’t agree. Some members seem to think that you must only debit the renewals fund with the value of the stock scrapped from year to year. In one year we may not be scrapping a large number of rolling stock but depreciation takes place all the time and we must make provision by buying new stock against the time when a large quantity of rolling stock must be scrapped.
But purchases are not replacing them.
As long as I have responsibility in regard to the railways, I want to repeat that it shall be my endeavour to debit, as regards the purchase of rolling stock, as much as is allowed under the terms of the law to Renewals Fund rather than buy it from Capital Fund.
I am very pleased that my predecessor agrees with me on that point. Of course, it is the only sound view to take. May I remind the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) that, during all the years that he sat in Parliament, he never raised his voice against it? This is the first time he has done that. The hon. member has raised the question of the position of the chief accountant and has said that the chief accountant should have more powers. He has dealt very fully with the report which has been furnished to the New South Wales Government in regard to this whole question. I have studied that report on this particular point and I must say that I am rather at a loss to understand why the hon. member has raised the point. The actual position to-day in regard to the spending powers of the general manager is that for all amounts over £5,000 the authority of the Board and the Minister is necessary. Very large sums are involved in amounts over £5,000. So that it is not as if the general manager has got free power to spend whatever amount he may think fit. There is further the chief accountant who scrutinizes each item, who, through his staff and personally, deals with each item and, if he finds that anything has been done which is not correct, he will deal with that matter and report. There is further the Auditor-General who is, the final check, or perhaps I should not say the final check, because the final check is really the Select. Committee, which deals with the report of the Auditor-General every year and scrutinizes each item raised by him. Let me tell the hon. member, (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) that he is under a misapprehension if he thinks that the recommendations of that re-, port have been adopted by the Government of New South Wales. I found nothing in that report to support the hon. member’s contention that the chief accountant should be an independent officer. They recommend the enlargement of the chief accountant’s powers in a certain direction. Our own Select Committee dealt very fully with this whole principle and came to the conclusion that the system, as we have it at the present time, is the correct one. Let me remind the hon. member for Cape Town, (Harbour) that, after all, there is one man in the railway management who is responsible for carrying out the policy. That can never be the chief accountant. That can only be the general manager. On questions of policy the general manager is responsible, because he is held responsible to the Board and Minister.
Doesn’t the Minister decide question of policy?
Perhaps the hon. gentleman, does not understand. The General Manager is the executive officer carrying out the policy which has been laid down by the Minister and by the Board.
I am afraid it is the other way round.
The hon. member may think so.
Most emphatically I do.
If the hon. member can submit any proof of that statement I will be prepared to deal with it.
I am expressing an opinion.
I may remind the hon. member that it is very dangerous expressing opinions unless you have got very good grounds for them. The other point dealt with by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) and other members is the vexed question of the reduction of rates. He has twitted me again on this occasion, as he has done before, on my speeches’ when I was in Opposition, saying I did not make these speeches now. Does the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) forget the circumstances under which those speeches were delivered? (Laughter.) I expected that laugh. Let me deal with the position as it existed. Who was responsible for these high rates, against which we protested while in Opposition?
I thought hon. members over there had been on the Government benches for about 14 years. I thought the laugh would be against them. When I protested it was at a time when the rates were at their peak in 1920, and the policy I then advocated was carried out by my predecessor, and that policy proved itself to be quite justified. Since the hon. member (Mr. Jagger) reduced the rates our railway finances have recovered. Let me tell hon. members that, however much I am in favour of the reduction of rates, they must not imagine that we will ever get back to pre-war rates.
Unless the hon. member there wishes to reduce the wages of our employees.
No, but you get increased traffic.
The hon. member there wants to have it both ways then.
That is the argument you used just now.
The point the hon. member must endeavour to see is this, that your working costs have gone up tremendously—
And are still going up.
In what respect? Is this one of the hon. member’s loose statements? No, we cannot expect to get back to pre-war rates. Where is the country in the whole of the world where any railway system has come anywhere near pre-war rates? It cannot be done unless you reduce the wages and salaries of your staff, and purchase the materials required at a lower price. While I am in favour of reduction of rates, I have indicated on a previous occasion that reduction of rates under this Government will not take place at the expense of the employees. Hon. members may like that or not, but that is the definite policy of this Government.
You are going to put it on the poor taxpayers.
We are responsible to the taxpayers, but there is a further condition we shall not reduce rates until we give the people of this country as regards civilized labour, a square deal. The hon. member may like that or not, but that is our policy. We are prepared to pay more in order to get efficient service through civilized labour. I am prepared to meet the hon. member on any platform and defend that policy. You can go to any country constituency. If I were to tell the committee the number of applications on the books from boys of Standard VII and over—thousands of them—hon. members would realize how great the problem is of finding work for our boys. As I have indicated on a previous occasion, the Government further will not reduce rates if it means that we are going to have a departure from business principles. Not the sort we had under the previous Government, when there were deficits of over four millions, so that my hon. friend had to take two millions from the renewals fund. The Opposition members are very much concerned about the renewals fund now, but when my hon. friend raided the fund of two millions in order to cover up the deficit of his predecessor there was not a word.
What is this white labour costing?
I am coming to the questions of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). I thought the hon. member would prefer to get away from that subject. There is another very important point which members should realize, and that a change has taken place with regard to our traffic. While formerly we were carrying a very large quantity of imported high-rated goods, at the present time we are carrying almost 90 per cent. South African produce, which means we are largely carrying low-rated traffic. I think it is one of the things that we, as members of this House, have reason to be proud of, and thankful for that the whole of our carrying system has changed as regards the products we carry. While formerly we were largely dependent upon the carrying of high-rated imported goods, today the South African railways are kept busy with practically all South African products. It shows that the development of this country is proceeding apace.
Which way do they come, from the north or the south?
They come from the north.
Exactly. That is what I said.
I thought that this question of civilized labour policy had been disposed of, that it would not be necessary for me to refer to it again, but evidently the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) is not yet satisfied. Will the committee mark what has happened in this case? The hon. member now tells the House that he has had information about seven coloured men who were dismissed during the months of October and November. 1924. He waits eight months to bring these cases to my notice.
He has only just wakened up.
You only challenged me the other day.
No, it was the beginning of the session. This shows how successful the policy has been. During all these months the hon. member has been collecting evidence from all parts of the country, and look at the meagre result—seven coloured people dismissed. I am sorry I must disappoint the hon. member. Long before he mentioned these cases they had been brought to my notice and were investigated. There was doubt in the minds of the officers concerned as to whether they were coloured or native, and in a number of cases they erred, and dismissed men, thinking they were natives. The hon. member must not misunderstand me when I talk of dismissal. These were on branch lines.
Mossel Bay Harbour is not a branch line.
I am quite willing to admit that in a few cases mistakes occurred. It does credit to our officers that in carrying out a difficult policy like this they made so few mistakes. Where men were, unfortunately, wrongly dismissed, they were re-appointed at once. I want to repeat that if any coloured man or native is dismissed from the service without good cause by an over-zealous officer. I shall be glad if hon. members will bring that case to my notice, and I promise that that employee will be restored to his position. I have always insisted that no injustice to the native should be tolerated. Unless he leaves the service though wastage the native will be respected in his position in the railway service, and will not be dismissed.
I am pleased to find the term “wastage” applied to natives.
There are many ways in which a man may leave the service through wastage. He may not turn up for work, and he is then struck off the books. I am sorry the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) is not here, because he blew hot and cold with regard to this policy. He said—
I am very much in favour of it, but you must remember that if this is carried out you are not going to have lower rates.
May I ask him what is his real position? Is he opposed to the employment of civilized labour? The hon. member does not state the position correctly. It clearly shows he has not investigated the question and that he has no experience of the employment of civilized labourers. The direct result of the employment of civilized labour is that greater efficiency is obtained. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) has made an interjection about Zululand, but what has Zululand got to do with civilized labour? I have sat many years in this Parliament and have never heard a more stupid interjection. Civilized labour means increased efficiency, and increased efficiency means lower working rates, and I repudiate this theory of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) that if you replace uncivilized, by civilized labour, it is impossible to get a reduction of rates. You will get efficiency and, ultimately, lower costs. I agree that i’ll the initial stages you will have higher costs.
Why did you exempt agriculture from the Wages Bill?
One does expect these interjections from the hon. member for Cradock; but I would appeal to the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) to save his reputation. There is another point which is overlooked by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central). If you employ civilized labour at a civilized wage, you increase the purchasing power of the people, and as a result there will be more development. This is the farmers party on this side of the House, and is it extraordinary that the farmers’ party, who are largely interested in this question of lower railway rates, have not objected to this policy of civilized labour? Why? For the simple reason that hon. members on this side realize that if the workman receives a decent wage by which he can live a decent life and purchase what is necessary, it means that our farmers share in the benefit. Because these hon. gentlemen, representing more or less all the farming constituencies—there are just a few exceptions—have taken the long view, the national view, the South African view. That is why you have not heard any of the small-minded criticisms that have come from hon. members on the opposite side. We realize our responsibility to white civilization. We do not only talk about it as hon. members opposite did when they sat here. We are at the present time carrying out a policy by which we are ensuring to the white and the civilized coloured man and the native in his own particular area, a proper standard of living. Just let me deal with a point made by the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M, Brown).
Which is the natives particular area?
Evidently the right horn member for Fort Beaufort has never heard of the Transkei. I have always looked upon the member for Three Rivers as a very fair-minded man, but I was, indeed, surprised to hear him say that he has noticed a coloured prejudice in the railway administration during the last year. I want to give him the assurance that there is no reason why he should think so. Let me give him the facts in regard to his own constituency. Does he know that the coloured men working at the harbour at Port Elizabeth have had their leave privileges improved?
Does that show coloured prejudice? Does the hon. member know that this administration has appointed two coloured porters at Park Station, Johannesburg, to deal with the luggage of native and coloured passengers, a thing which was never done by any previous Government? Does that show prejudice? When this Government took office we had in our employment 4,294 coloured men, whereas at present we have 5,370, an increase of over 1,000. That means of course that a very much larger number have been appointed, because there has been wastage from time to time. The instructions given to all officers are that all coloured men have to be treated in the category of civilized labour.
They replaced natives.
Undoubtedly; where natives have left through wastage. Where? In Natal there is wastage of Indian employees, no new Indians; are appointed, but their plages are taken by Europeans. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) has raised the question of the Railways and Harbours Rifle Brigade.
I have not finished that.
Let me deal with it now, and the hon. member may not wish to deal with it again. While the administration of my predecessor and other railway ministers have contributed the sum of £2,000 to the expenses of the brigade. The present administration has reduced that amount to £1,000. Why do we contribute £1,000 from revenue towards this brigade? Because we act in the position of the rich friend, if you may put it in that way, to the Brigade, and, under the circumstances, I do not think that any real criticism can be offered to that. We are not paying them for any rifles, ammunition, machine guns or anything of that sort, and may I remind the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) that that was done under the previous administration.
I am not criticising that.
All we do is to provide the £1,000 for bands and things of that sort. But all the military part is found by the Defence Department; because the Railways and Harbours Brigade is in every sense a unit of the Defence Department, and they fall under the sphere of my hon. colleague, the Minister of Defence.
Did the Minister of Defence find the officers?
Where does he find them?
That is a question the hon. member should address to my hon. friend. As far as the Defence part is concerned, the railway administration has nothing to do with that. As to informal tenders, the chief accountant is the chairman of the Tender Board, which regularly scrutinizes all informal tenders. On broad lines I agree that we should have as few informal tenders as possible. They are, however, reported to the Tender Board, which deals with them in the ordinary way. I now come to the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). He asked what the civilized labour policy cost. In the estimates we have given all the items where there has been an increase of expenditure owing to the employment of civilized labour, and the total approximate cost is £160,000. He has also asked information with regard to the electrification of the Wynberg line. The tenders for rolling stock have been accepted, and the preliminary engineering work has started. The hon. member for Sale River (Mr. Snow) has raised the position of the insurance fund. We insure our own assets against fire, and the amount contributed by the revenue to the fund is regulated by the financial condition of the fund, so that in case the fund shows a big credit balance the contributions from revenue are decreased. We have a very large and valuable service, and are bound to make adequate provision for any loss we may sustain as the result of a fire.
Don’t overdo it.
I agree that we must not overdo it. Then the question of different rates of pay has been raised. I dealt very fully with that on a previous occasion, so. I do not propose to do sb again. I regret very much that there are these different rates of pay, but we cannot go back on the decision come to in 1923. As to repairs costing too much, the report of the Workshops Commission indicates why that is so. I agree with the Commission that you cannot hold workmen liable for increased costs if the machinery is out of date. As to the question of piece work, we have met the artizans, and we want to put the matter on a sound basis, so that it may be satisfactory to all cur workmen. The hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel) has dealt with the question of railway rates on coal. He began by saying that the rates on our primary products are too high. I agree that the rates should be as low as possible, but our railway rates on primary products are the lowest in the world, so I am informed; they are certainly very much lower than in England or Australia. I understood the hon. member to say that the rates on export coal were fair, but the export rates on bunker coal were too high. He made the rather extraordinary statement that our bunker coal trade had not increased since 1914, but the hon. member is wrong. In 1914, the railways carried 1,664,000 tons for bunkering, but last year we carried 1,905,000 tons. The ships do carry a certain proportion of bunker coal for the return journey. But I do not think that accounts for this increase of more than 250,000 tons since 1914. I see no chance of introducing lower rates for bunker coal. The pre-war rates were very low. We have not lost any business, and as far as ships calling at South African ports are concerned, their number has increased. In 1914 the gross tonnage of ships calling here was 19,750,000, and in 1924 the tonnage was 22,751,000. It is not as if our bunker rates have frightened ships from coming here, but so long as the companies maintain their high freight rates, I do not see why this country should waste any money in reducing rates on coal. If the companies are prepared to reduce their rates, the Administration will be quite prepared to consider the question of lowering their rates for bunker coal. But at present any reduction in our rates will mean that the shipping companies will be able to reap a bigger harvest. The coal mines do not supply only for bunkering purposes, but also for local consumption. The hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) has raised the question that our export rate is not an economic rate. But it is an economic rate if you bear in mind the whole position. It is a much lower rate than the rate for bunker coal, and for coal for local consumption, but unless for export purposes we grant a particularly low rate no coal will be exported from South Africa, We are in the position that we must compete in the world’s markets, and unless we give a low rate, that would be impossible. We have the choice of raising the rates and killing the export business, or giving the low rate and maintaining and increasing the business. Our export of coal has increased. In 1914 the coal exported totalled 569.000 tons, and in 1924-25 we exported 1,927,000 tons. If you export coal, it means that more money is coming into the country, and that helps us. I would like to charge higher rates—
Does it pay to carry at that rate?
Then why don’t you reduce it for the local consumer?
Then the railways would not pay. The collieries have bulk production of export coal, and are able, therefore, to reduce their working costs. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) asked a question with regard to the vacancy on the Railway Board. The hon. member is a little previous. He is just two months too previous. Mr. Orr’s period of service does not expire until August.
I was referring to the choice you have made.
The hon. member should remember that the choice rests with this side of the House and not with him.
I thought it rested with that side of the House.
The hon. member is so accustomed to nominate that it is difficult for him to realize that the power of appointment rests with members on this side.
With a section of that side of the House. I see the Minister of Labour smiling.
I would advise the hon. member to possess his soul in patience. In due time an announcement will be made by the Government and the hon. member may rest assured the nomination of the Government will be an excellent one.
It will not interfere with a South African party candidate.
I am glad to have an opportunity of paying a tribute to my colleague who has left the Board—Mr. Orr. My predecessor, no doubt, found him valuable and useful. I wish to say for myself that, more especially with regard to financial matters, I found him very helpful.
It is a pity you did not keep him on. You have dissembled your love very well.
Does the hon. member forget that Mr. Orr indicated that he did not desire renomination? But I must not blame the hon. member for Fort Beaufort. There are reasons why he forgets things. The hon. member for Durban (Stamford Hill) (Mr. Lennox) asked me not to forget the European position with regard to coal. I assure him we are not forgetting that. My Department is following events in regard to the European position closely. I assure him we are fully alive to the position overseas. He has also asked for more deep sea berths at Durban. Durban is like Oliver Twist, always asking for more. The whole railway and harbour system in Natal is most important and carries a large proportion of the traffic in South Africa.
Half the traffic.
No, one-third would be nearer the mark. I assure the hon. member the claims of Durban Harbour will not be forgotten when we deal with the whole question.
What about Kosi harbour?
The time may come in the distant future when even Kosi Bay may be required. At the present time, however, our existing harbours require all our attention and we must concentrate on them. I do not approve of the policy of seeking new harbours while our present harbours require development.
What about the passenger station?
I am afraid that will have to wait. We cannot give the hon. member more than sympathy at present. The hon. member for Yeoville raised the question of electrification in Natal. The whole position of electrification is one of great importance, and I appreciate the interest the hon. member attaches to the subject. The whole matter is under consideration in connection with the loan estimates, and I hope in that connection to lay on the Table a full statement of the whole position. Hon. members are entitled to ask me to deal exhaustively with the whole position.
When are we going to get the loan estimates?
They are practically complete. I shall lay them on the Table at the beginning of next week. Had it not been for the report from the consulting engineers, the loan estimates would have been on the Table now are getting a report so that hon. members may know what the position is. The hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) has raised the question of the eight-hour day, and other members have done so too. Let me say that until such times as the Hours of Duty Committee has reported—and they have now practically completed the taking of evidence and will begin very shortly to draft their report—hon. members should not press me for any statement in this regard. I may say that at an international Railway Congress, which is now sitting in London at the present time, the following resolution has been taken—
I am not going to comment upon that resolution but it is interesting to note that at the International Railway Conference, the principle has been laid down that in applying the eight hour day local conditions should be studied.
You can say the same in regard to a ten-hour day. What do you intend to do? That is the point.
I now come to a subject which I very much regret the necessity to raise. It was raised in the first instance by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) and I have not the least objection to the form in which that hon. member has raised it. He asked me what the special qualifications are of Mr. Oost. The share which I have had in connection with the appointment is one that I am fully prepared to face the House on. I do not desire to shirk my responsibility. Let me first say, in connection with the payment of £2 0s. 6d., no item appears on the estimates by which this payment is specially made. The amount which we contribute, which will probably be a few hundred pounds, will be found from our publicity vote, so that it is not as if we were asking the country, or the users of the railway, to contribute that particular amount. I am not saying that we are not paying for it. All I say is that we are not asking Parliament specially to provide for it. We are, in any case, spending £25,000 on publicity, and this is part of the manner in which that money is going to be spent.
Very badly spent.
I want to say in regard to the qualifications of Mr. Oost for this particular task which he has undertaken, that he is a journalist. I thought that that must commend itself to hon. members opposite, bound as they are, so closely with so many bonds, to the press. There is the further point that Mr, Oost has a thorough knowledge, of farming conditions. Hon. members opposite may not agree, but then you see, sir, hon. members must not forget that the responsibility for the choice lies here, and not over there, and it is this Government’s duty to satisfy itself in appointments they make that the men to whose expenses they contribute possess the necessary qualifications’.
But are you?
Yes. Does the hon. member suggest that the Government would have consented to contribute £2 0s. 6d. to the expenses of this gentleman unless they were satisfied that the farmers would benefit? Very well, we will in regard to the qualifications, agree to differ. I want to make a few remarks in regard to what has fallen from the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) and the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz).
You might expect that.
We may expect it, but we have the right to expect ordinary decency from every member in this House.
On a point of order, is the Minister allowed to refer to a want of decency on the part of any hon. member?
It is true.
I did not hear it. I was just going to remind another hon. member that it is not proper to read a newspaper in the Chamber.
I think the Minister will agree that he did make use of that expression.
I am prepared to repeat it again for the benefit of the Chairman, so that he can rule whether I am in order or not. I said that the remarks of the hon. member for Illovo and these of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) exceed the bounds of decency.
I do not think that is a proper remark to make. I think the Minister ought to withdraw it.
If you rule that I should withdraw it, I do so. Let me say that I have seldom listened to a speech in this House during all the years I have been here which was so full of spleen and racial hatred. I come from the stock of what is generally known as the backveld. I am proud to come from that stock. The hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) in his remarks, reflected on the personal appearance of Mr. Oost. I say that is disgraceful.
On a point of personal explanation, Mr. Chairman, I did not reflect upon the hon. member—on the contrary—
I have Hansard in my possession.
It was the way you said
The hon. member for Ladybrand (Mr. Swart) need not get so excited. I said I must be understood not to reflect upon his personal appearance. I wish to lay the point of order to know whether the Minister is entitled to refer to a remark of mine as “disgraceful.”
I think the hon. Minister must moderate his language.
I must say it is very difficult to moderate one’s language when you have to listen to speeches of that kind. Hon. members will note the quibble of the hon. member for Illovo now.
On a point of order—
Order. Sit down.
On a point of personal explanation—
I am not prepared to keep on giving way to the hon. member’s personal explanations.
Then you must withdraw “quibble.”
The Minister has not withdrawn.
The Chairman has not asked me to withdraw.
I simply ask the Minister to moderate his language. I feel sure the Minister is prepared to do so.
I want to say the remark of the hon. member in his explanation is a “quibble.” The manner in which he referred to the personal appearance of Mr. Oost, and his facial expression at the time, showed that he was reflecting on his personal appearance. Representing a country constituency and representing typical so-called back-veld farmers, I want to say to the hon. member that during the whole of my career I have come into contact with South African Dutch farmers over the whole of South Africa, and in all my experience I never came across any Dutch South African farmer showing the racialism of the hon. member for Illovo. I say that I regret it, and was surprised that the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Thomas Smartt) did not check the hon. member. The hon. member now laughs smugly; he is satisfied to insult the Dutch-speaking members. Does he not realize that we of Dutch extraction feel it deeply when he reflects on the personal appearance of our race. If the hon. member would only reflect for one moment—
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, is the Minister entitled to accuse me of reflecting on the hon. member’s appearance when I explained I did nothing of the sort?
I think the Minister ought to accept the word of the hon. member.
I want to submit to your ruling in every way, Mr. Chairman, but may I point out that the hon. member admitted he had made a reflection, and my point is that the manner in which he made his remarks was such to convey a reflection. It is a question of interpretation. The facial expression of the hon. member while dealing with the matter was clear proof to me of what he thought. No the hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. Oost) has made many mistakes in his life, but I ask the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) has not he made many mistakes in his political career? I will not ask the hon. member for Illovo, but ask the hon. member for Fort Beaufort is it right? Criticize this Government as much as you care for our share in this business we are here to defend ourselves: but is it right to deal with a subject of this sort in the manner it has been dealt with? Mark how far the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) went. In his effort to discredit the Government and Mr. Oost he went so far as to say the appointment was made deliberately, he thought, in order to offend the British people. I ask the hon. member for Fort Beaufort does he agree for one moment that the members of the Agricultural Committee of the Empire Exhibition in South Africa—
On a point of order, is the hon. member entitled to refer to a statement I have not made? I never referred to the British people.
The Minister does not wish to give up his opportunity of speaking now. The hon. member should not interrupt.
But the Minister must not make incorrect statements.
It is for the House to judge whether I am stating the position as it was stated by the hon. member. I ask the hon. member for Fort Beaufort is it likely that the members of the Agricultural Committee of the South African Empire Exhibition would appoint Mr. Oost as they have done? And that there was any intention on their part to insult the British people?
They could not have got a worse person.
I am prepared to discuss the question of their choice. The hon. member may think it was a wrong choice.
He has insulted the British people for years past.
But does the hon. member agree that the British people are insulted by the appointment? I repudiate that suggestion. That was a most unfair statement to make, and it reflects on the bona fides of the Empire Exhibition Committee. They have appointed Mr. Oost, and I have clearly indicated the part the Government took, and I am not ashamed of it. The Empire Agricultural Committee finances his passage money, his rail fares, and part of his expenses, and the publicity vote of the railway in contributing the sum of £2 0s. 6d. per day while he is doing that service. I want now to deal with a less contentious subject, namely, workmen’s tickets. I have much sympathy with hon. members who have raised the point, and am going into the whole question to see how far it will be possible to meet their views. There are, however, certain difficulties which will have to be overcome, but I think they have made out an excellent case. I do not think the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) wants me to discuss again the question of State shipping. The position of the Government is that we are watching the whole position very carefully. The hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) has raised the question of railway facilities for pupils attending technical schools. I have sympathy in the matter which is being closely investigated, and I hope it will be possible to meet the hon. member.
*The hon. member for Marico (Mr. J. J. Pienaar) has spoken about the rate for the carriage of agricultural lime. He asked why the lime could not also be carried at a reduced or the same tariff as the manure. The position is that the manure is often very far away from the railway line, and then it is also the case that the lime is not always used for agricultural purposes. It is also used for other purposes, and it is difficult to make a difference between it and the lime which is used for agriculture. The hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Geldenhuys) has spoken about the time table in Zoutpansberg. That matter is being considered and the arrangements will be notified later. The hon. member for Barberton (Mr. Rood) has spoken about the supply of trucks for the carriage of fruit. The Administration appreciates that many trucks are required, and that fruit culture is extending very largely every year, so that there will be more trucks required for effective transport. The hon. member for Lydenburg (Mr. Nieuwenhuize) and other hon. members also have discussed the position in connection with the employment of country lads in the railway service. I have much sympathy with that view and with what hon. members have suggested, namely, that we should not permit the son from the “platteland” being prevented from taking his proper place in the railway service. I am glad that the hon. member takes an interest in the matter, and I hope that all members will take an interest in it, because the boys will often fail to succeed in the railway service if we do not encourage them. He has mentioned a critical case of a lad who had almost passed standard six and who was unable to get an appointment. He must remember that we have so many applications from boys who have passed standard seven and higher, that we feel that we should first employ the boys with the best qualifications, and therefore it is true that boys from the “platteland” some times do not get a chance of being considered. The fact is that the lads in the towns have a better chance of being educated and getting schooling and therefore they have better qualifications. But I want to say that instructions have been given to the department that justice must be done to the boys of the “platteland” and that the boys from the towns should not be given the preference. We would like to improve the status of the staff, and therefore we naturally wish to employ the boys with the best qualifications, and I think in this we have a very good reason. Lads under standard six have very little chance of success and advancement in the service. Those who have been better educated have a good chance of subsequently filling a post in the clerical department of the service, which often does not come within the reach of the other section of lads who in many cases will have to remain ordinary labourers, and who should therefore rather remain on the country-side. I agree with the general principle that we should do justice to the lads of the country-side. The hon. member for Lady brand (Mr. Swart) has brought up the position in connection with grain bags, and he has pleaded for a reduction of the rates. When we come to a general reduction of rates that will be considered. In this regard, I want to point cut to the hon. member that the reduction of the rate on grain bags is not an insignificant matter. He will be surprised to know how many are carried. I understand, however, that it is a matter of great importance to the farmers, and it will receive attention at the proper time. We carry building stone at a low rate, but just as soon as we reduce the rate then we get up against competition between various places. The hon. member must remember that Bloemfontein and Pretoria and other places also have good building stone, and they say that it is the best. As soon then as we further reduce the rate then we bring all those places into competition with each other. The hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. A. S. Naudé) has requested us to cheapen the tickets for children under twelve years. We let them travel at half price, and more is not done anywhere in the world. That is as far as I can go, and the hon. member should rather not insist on it. The hon. member for Heilbron (Mr. M. L. Malan) has mentioned the matter of the inland factories, and said that we are not doing justice to those factories. I want to point out to him that we have here to do with vested rights at the coast. If we were now to reduce the rates so much we should come into contact with vested rights and we must retain equilibrium. Wages are higher in the interior than at the coast. We cannot therefore go hurriedly to work in this connection. He has called attention to the carriage of maize and said that we should be prepared for a great harvest, I can assure him that the railway management are aware of it. But hon. members and the farmers do not appreciate how difficult they make things for us by offering damp mealies. I cannot tell hon. members how difficult it makes things for us, and therefore I hope that they will bring it to the notice of the farmers. We cannot export them because he grader will not pass them, and they only accumulate and make it difficult in handling the others. They should rather be kept on the farms till they are drier. We are prepared to carry the maize, but hon. members should not continue under the impression that it will happen within a few months. With the best intentions in the world and with all the special trains and large locomotives, it will not be able to be done in a few months.
Will there be available space at the stations’
We will give all possible facilities but I just want to remind hon. members that it will not be possible to ship all at once the enormous quantities at the ports. The grain elevator at Durban is unfortunately not yet finished and most of the maize will have to come to Cape Town. The foundations at Durban are, however, nearly finished and then the work will be expedited. The hon. member for Oudtshoorn (Mr. le Roux) mentioned the matter of appointment of officials and railway servants by the divisional superintendent. He said that we should do justice to bilingual persons and to the boys from the country side. This is done as far as it is possible. A monthly return of appointments is made to the Minister in order to enable him to keep an eye on it and to see the qualifications of the persons appointed. As he says it is a matter which for the most part depends on the good will of the officers concerned. I will not say that all are already possessed of the right spirit. There are people that think that it is not necessary to carry out the policy of the Government but the large mass of the senior officers is anxious to carry out the policy of the Government. If instances come under the notice of hon. members where senior officers do not carry out the principles of the Minister then I shall be very glad if they will bring it to the notice of the Minister and that officer will then be called to account. The intention is to appoint as many as possible as labourers. When they have served a bit as such and a better post becomes vacant then we take such lads who commenced as labourers and give them the appointment. I think that this is sound and that hon. members will agree with me. To the credit of our young people I find that they are ready to begin modestly and to wait for their opportunity and I say that we have reason to be thankful that our young people are willing to endure hardship as ordinary labourers to clean out locomotives, etc., and wash down coaches. As long as that spirit prevails among our young Afrikanders then there is hope for them.
We all had to commence there.
Yes, but there was once a tendency to just sit in an office with a pen behind the ear. But I am glad to say that they are willing to commence in a humble way. Every opportunity is given to them. He further asked whether it was not possible to give bursaries to people to go and study railway administration. I am investigating whether it is possible to do that in the same sense as it is being done by the Department of Agriculture. But such bursaries will not be given before people have first been a bit in our service and have had experience of the control of traffic. The opportunity will only then be given to them. I think I have now dealt with all the points and that the House will be prepared to vote on the motion of the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbours) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) so that we can get on.
I would like to ask the Minister a question in regard to a matter I raised earlier in the session relating to the shortage of housing accommodation for railwaymen at Ladysmith. I should like to enquire whether the Minister has taken any steps in the direction of providing further accommodation. The Minister will remember that some twelve months ago electric locomotive sheds were erected at Diamana, which is one-and-a-half to two miles from where the men live. A large number of men have to walk daily to Diamana to their work, which they find very inconvenient, and there are no trams or other travelling facilities for getting there. I ask the Minister to investigate this matter with a view to providing houses for these men. I want also to refer to the report of the Workshops Commission, and to place a few facts before the Minister in support of my contention that Ladysmith offers advantages which cannot be overlooked. In the first place, I think its geographical position alone gives Ladysmith a right of priority over any other part of northern Natal. Ladysmith is the junction of two main lines, the one to Free State and the other to Transvaal. At Diamana is the finest marshalling yard in the Union, which in itself is a very big asset, and in connection with workshops would prove invaluable. Then there is the question of water. The supply at Ladysmith has survived the test of the several droughts, and is such that on occasions when there has been a shortage of water elsewhere the administration has had to fall back on the Ladysmith supply, and draw upon that source to meet the requirements of other parts of the district. Then it is well known to be an exceedingly healthy town; statistics prove that. The administration has already a large piece of land in the vicinity of Diamana, which it acquired from the municipality years ago, and there is plenty of cheap land which could be made available if required additional to the land already owned by the administration. The commonage of Ladysmith is one of the largest in Natal, and there is plenty of land for all requirements in connection with extensive workshops. The area of the commonage is 17.000 acres. Then there is this important factor that you have coal near at hand, only a few miles distant. There are coal mines in the district, and only a few miles from the town itself. Then there is this further important factor that Ladysmith is in the zone covered by the Colenso power station, from which cheap light and cheap power can be obtained. It is estimated that about one-third of the whole of the traffic of the Union is handled at Diamana junction, which is a further important factor in favour of Ladysmith as the most suitable site. Of course we were told by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), and the hon. member for Germiston (Mr. G. Brown), and the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.- Col. N. J. Pretorius), that this is a very bad report. But their reason for condemning it is because the claims of Bloemfontein, Germiston and Pretoria, respectively, have been ignored by the commission, and the recommendation that the workshops should be established either at the Cape or in the northern districts of Natal, preferably the latter, is one which is distasteful to them. I contend that Ladysmith has made out a strong case for the workshops an unanswerable case. There are advantages there which, taken as a whole, no other part of the Union can claim to have. Having put on record the claims of Ladysmith. I am satisfied to leave the matter to be decided by the Cabinet with full confidence that Ladysmith’s claims cannot be ignored.
I am sorry the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs have gone out, because perhaps they might have been able to give me the information which the Minister of Railways keeps locked up. In regard to who is going to fill the vacant post of Commissioner of Railways. I understood the arrangement made within the Pact was that certain appointments fell to these two Ministers, and I am perfectly certain that the Minister of Railways and Harbours knows the recommendation they have made, and I can hardly understand why he is not prepared to lay it before the House. The Minister smiles and acknowledges that what I say is perfectly correct. The Minister knows I have always felt towards him a very friendly feeling.
It is a fact, and I am extremely disturbed for fear my hon. friend has caught a chill, for he worked himself up into such a state of excitement that he must have been perspiring at every pore, and he may have caught a chill, and that would cause us great distress. Or was it rather that my hon. friend was not perspiring? Was it stagethunder? Was he so ashamed of the appointment made by the Government, of which he is a member, that he worked himself up into this position of stage-thunder to avoid giving any definite reason why this gentleman has been appointed to such an important post? He has given no reason, and I will say that if what the hon. gentleman says is correct, namely, that the committee representing Wembley in this country, without any recommendation being made to them, chose this gentleman as their own free choice, I say it speaks very badly for the knowledge they have of the interests of the Wembley exhibition, because Mr. Oost was one of those people who, both by his voice and pen, in the paper which he edits, cast the greatest possible slurs upon the Wembley exhibition, and the waste and extravagance in voting monies of this country to do anything to facilitate an Empire exhibition, or anything of that sort, and I will not refer to statements which are well-known, that have come from that gentleman, and have appeared in his paper, in which he has passed the greatest insulting reflections upon the English section of the people of this country. When my hon. friend worked himself up into such a fury I wonder he did not think it necessary to give some rebuke, seeing that he is so anxious that racial animosity should be stilled in this country, to the expression that times without number have fallen from the lips of this gentleman, who has been appointed to represent the Union at Wembley, to try and to secure a market for our products in Europe. I say unhesitatingly that no more unsatisfactory appointment has ever been made by this or any other country than the appointment of Mr. Oost as a representative of South Africa. I do not blame my hon. friend, for I recognize he was in a difficulty, for before he worked himself into that state he made a sort of apology.
Oh, yes, I thoroughly sympathize with you.
I simply stated facts.
I know if the appointment had been in your hands you would never have made it.
You cannot have it both ways.
I know perfectly well that if the appointment had been in the hands of my hon. friend he would not have been responsible for making it, for he must know that the appointment has been received with justifiable resentment by a very large section of the people of this country. Can he tell me that there was no better qualified man for an appointment of this character? True, £2 0s. 6d. a day may be very little for the Railway Department, but Mr. Oost’s steamer passages have to be paid, and we do not know whether he may not find it necessary to proceed by aeroplane to that Centre of Bolshevistic teaching in Moscow. If we can believe the reports we have seen in the press, he and another member of this House have been soaring along to obtain inspiration with which to encourage our friends on the cross benches. The Union has a High Commissioner in London, who, I understand, has been visiting not only Holland and Germany, but also Italy, to enquire into our trade there. We have a Trade Commissioner in London and a Trade Commissioner on the Continent. Surely the Minister does not wish the Committee to realize that the appointment of Mr. Pienaar has been an unnecessary and useless appointment, for if it is necessary to supplement that gentleman’s services by sending an emissary from this country, the Government should acknowledge that they have made a wrong choice in appointing Mr. Pienaar. That is the last thing I would like to see—the appointment of a plenipotentiary above the heads of our High Commissioner and trade commissioner in London and our trade commissioner on the Continent. The admission by the Government that these gentlemen are incapable of carrying out their duties is a slur upon them. This is a political appointment.
Providing for a pal.
Does the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) wish to contradict the statement that he is one of the pals who had to be provided for.
Does the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) think that to sing the praises and support the policy of the hon. Minister of Justice, against the hon. the Prime Minister does not deserve some sort of recognition from the left wing of the Cabinet.
You have heard of the flowers that bloom in the spring.
I would never say the gentleman appointed to this position, is one of the flowers that bloom in the spring, and the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) will agree with me. This appointment has been made. I believe the good sense of the country and the farming community will recognize that it is a political appointment.
The hon. member’s time has expired.
And provides another example—
Of providing political jobs for “pals.”
My hearing is quite good, Mr. Chairman.
It does not appear so.
I do not wish to discuss the appointment of Mr. Oost but to say a few words about the appointment of our boys on the railways. We were glad to hear the Minister say that our boys will have an opportunity in the railway service and also a chance of promotion. But then he should also provide for the boys being treated in a proper and sympathetic manner, that is an essential requirement. Take a boy, e.g., who has passed the matriculation examination. He comes from a good family and I unfortunately know of cases—I hope there are not many—where it is expected of the boys to work at the same time together with native. Not only that, there are even cases where natives who have already been for years in the service were supervising white lads. That is wrong. That discourages the boys and wounds their amour proper. They are commencing life and are brought under the idea that they must not only do kaffir work but that the kaffirs are put on an equality with them. The Minister must see that that is not possible. There are possibly not many of these cases and it is only necessary that he should give instruction to the immediate heads who are over the lads that in the future they must not be treated in that way. Then a point? which has not yet been mentioned. Provision must be made for fencing the railways where that has not yet been done. During the war we were told that it was too expensive, but that argument no longer holds and there are large stretches which are not vet fenced. It is of great importance for adjoining farms and I hope that the Minister will make provision for this.
I wish to say a word to the Minister with regard to several matters. There is the matter raised by the hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. J. F. Tom Naudé)—the extension of employment to young in the rural areas. I think we are travelling in a dangerous direction. I know the Minister is anxious to provide employment for those wanting employment. I have sent many applications to him and you are some times grieved when you get applications from young people who would be better employed on the land. If I understood the hon. Minister aright, I think it was wrong to reply to the hon. member for Lydenburg (Mr. Nieuwenhuize) the way he did. I understood him to say to the hon. member for Lydenburg that he appreciated the encouragement given youths from the country areas to look for employment on the railways. I look upon that with the greatest alarm. You can only find employment for a limited number in the railways. What we want is more producers, and we shall be doing the country a wrong if we are going as far as the Minister indicated in his remarks to the hon. member for Lydenburg, and he would be doing a wrong to the future of the country, because he is being inundated with applications, and will find, there are many more applicants than he can ever satisfy. It would be very much better not only for the country, but for the future of these young men if they were to remain on the land. We ought to do whatever we can to encourage these men to remain on the land, instead of drawing them off. There is one other point on which I would like some information from the Minister. I am very much interested, as he knows, in the export of certain agricultural products of this country across the water, not only products in which I am directly interested, but also indirectly I am interested in dried fruits, fresh fruit, wine and tobacco. I have a good bit to do with the export of these articles. The Minister, dealing with the mission of the hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost), said that he was going to try and find markets for our South African products, both farming and industrial products. Has Mr. Oost before he is leaving come into touch or has he been brought into touch with any of the producers or any of the exporters of these products, so that he can really know what he has to find markets for overseas? I belong to several of these organizations. I am a director of one of the largest co-operative organizations working for the export of both wine and dried fruits. We do not know of Mr. Oost. He has not seen us.
Who is the chairman of the Dried Fruit Society?
Mr. Kohler is the chairman of the one organization and Mr. Pickstone of the other. I know very well that Mr. Oost has not been in touch with these organizations. Then we have one of the largest cooperative societies which exports tobacco. He has not consulted this society. How is it that nothing has been said to any of these exporting bodies and that they have not been brought into touch with the hon. member for Pretoria (North) before he leaves? The Minister will know that a little while ago I brought a deputation to interview him and the Minister of Agriculture. These people were dealing in dried fruits. We came to see the two Ministers in connection with developing and finding markets on the other side. Shortly afterwards a Mr. Allen was going across to the Argentine. A great deal of trouble was taken to bring Mr. Allen into touch with all these people, but in the case of Mr. Oost nothing of the kind was done. Further, we had the vote of the Minister of Agriculture a little while ago, and, if something was going to be done for agriculturists surely he ought to have said something about it. He should have done so in order that we could avail ourselves of the services, whatever they may be, which Mr. Oost is going to give us. I believe there is no time now for him to interview any of these people, because he is leaving to-morrow. As far as I know, he has seen nobody. If he is going in the interests of these people, how can he do anything for them? Another question I should like to ask the Minister, is when was his appointment definitely decided upon?
The Minister does not know.
Can you tell us now?
About a month ago, I should say.
Why has the thing been kept quiet like this? During the month we had the Minister of Agriculture’s vote on, and surely the Minister of Agriculture would have been very pleased if he could have told the agriculturists something good: “We are going to send someone to Europe to try and find markets for you, and you should avail yourselves of his services.”
Why did not you do it three weeks ago when the question was asked?
If the question had not been asked, nothing would have been said about his appointment until after he had left. The Minister of Railways and Harbours took such great trouble to get Mr. Allen in touch with the managers of co-operative societies when he was going to the Argentine that he should have done the same in this case with the hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost).
Did Capt. Lane see everybody?
The Minister of Railways and Harbours has always stood fairly high in my estimation, but, after the fighting speech he made to-night, he has gone up a few more notches, especially when I heard him say so emphatically—in reply to the persistent requests for reductions in railway rates—that such was not to take place at the expense of the workers. So long as the Minister and his Government maintain that attitude, they will have an ardent supporter in the member for Maritzburg North. The hon. member for Aliwal (Mr. Sephton), in order, he said, to obtain cheap transport, was advocating the employment of cheap coloured labour. No doubt, in support of his friend, the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) who once said that cheap transport was the very soul of business, with a big “B”—
I said cheap transport was the best thing for development.
I remember reading on one occasion that the hon. member gave utterance to the statement I have made.
It is wrong.
All right, we will agree to differ. I know that the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) and his friends desire to obtain cheap transport by cheap coloured labour on the railways.
And it delights me to know that the present Minister and Government do not intend to embark on a policy of that kind. The hon. member for Aliwal (Mr. Sephton) in his advocacy of cheap coloured labour, desired no one else to live but himself, and those who belong to him. I can visualize the hon. member retiring in the evening and getting down on his knees and saying—
That evidently is the position in so far as the hon. member for Aliwal is concerned. We are good friends, but I feel that is so, and I desire to say it; because I positively rebel against a policy of that kind. The hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) said yesterday that he had no objection to the employment of coloured station masters. If they were employed at the same rate as European station masters I would have no fault to find; but I know full well that the whole advocacy of the hon. member for Aliwal and others, in so far as coloured labour is concerned, is that it is cheap labour. One of the matters which I got up to tackle the Minister on, is in connection with the manner in which his department is assisting to bring back the eight-hours day. I had a question on the Order Paper the other day, and let me say, in passing, that I once referred in this House to the putting of questions and the replies given thereto as a farce, and I was quickly called to order for doing so. Now I have come to the conclusion that it is a tragedy. I had information forwarded to me from Natal to the effect that a circular had been sent out from headquarters in Durban to all the stations along the north coast, to the following effect—
I asked the Minister the reason for this departure from the recognized scheduled hours of duty, and the reply to that question was—
What I want to know from the Minister is what is the normal period of duty—is it 10 hours for a station staff or is it 12 hours’ I am afraid that the hours of duty are 12 hours, and I see very little hope of the railway men getting back to the eight hours day when conditions of service such as this exist. The right hon. member for Fort Beaufort, the other day, said there were more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream. There are more ways of bringing down a railway man’s wages than by a resolution in this House.
The electric engine drivers are objecting to working eight hours a day.
You can tell the House all about it after I finish. An artizan in Natal received the following notice—
This particular artizan is a highly skilled painter and was employed on the railways at the new rate for entrants, 18s. a day. He had been working for about two months at 18s. a day on first-class work, and then he was told by a note from the Works Inspector that he was employed on second-class work, and would therefore have his pay reduced. I am glad to say that this gentleman’s services were not terminated, because I intervened on his behalf, and he was told that as he had been employed for six months, the Department was prepared to carry out the agreement, at the termination of which he would be discharged unless he was prepared to work for 13s. 11d. a day. [Time expired.]
The last speaker has placed a wrong construction upon what I said during the earlier course of this debate. I admitted the responsibility of the Government in regard to unemployment, and said that it was their duty to try and find employment for them by the fostering of industries, and in other ways, but I said if the employment of Europeans on the railway, instead of natives meant dearer transport, it would kill such industries, or farm settlements, designed for the giving of employment to poor whites, and that it was not desirable in the interests of the country to displace the natives under those circumstances as it would be a burden to the country and to industry.
The Minister worked himself up into a frenzy in replying to my comments in regard to the appointment of Mr. Oost—one could almost say he was trembling like an aspen leaf. He fell back on his stock defence by accusing his opponents of racialism, but nobody will be deceived by so thing a subterfuge as that. The appointment is one which is regarded with ridicule throughout the whole of South Africa, and in speaking of the appointment, I spoke in a good-humoured spirit of ridicule, and I was merely reflecting the opinion of South Africa on the appointment, and no sort of shrieking on the part of the Minister—
I must ask the hon. member to moderate his language.
I am delighted to do so. The Minister said I accused Mr. Oost of insulting the British public.
I did not say that. I said his appointment was an insult.
If he will take the trouble to read my speech and he can find a, single reference on which he could place that interpretation—
It is bad enough to listen to your speeches without reading them.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) plays the role of a political Bushman in this House with his bow and poisoned arrow, with which he feebly tries to shoot at those on this side.
We shall never bother shooting you.
If the hon. Minister can find in my speech any suggestion that Mr. Oost’s appointment be taken as an insult to the British people, I will pay £100 to any charity he cares to name. He has made a most flimsy statement. To say he saw in my face traces of racialism is absurd. Last night I treated the matter in a spirit of ridicule. From time to time, I could not forbear from smiling, and far from having a trace of anger and indignation, it was just the opposite. The Minister would like to bring the accusation on my head that in referring to Mr. Oost’s appointment I was actuated by a spirit of racialism.
May I call your attention Mr. Chairman, to the fact that there is no quorum present.
Committee counted, and the Chairman declared that a quorum was present.
Throughout the whole of his agitated remarks, the Minister never once replied to my question as to the authority for Mr. Oost’s appointment, as to the person by whom he was selected for this important mission, and we are entirely in the dark even at this moment as to whether he was chosen by the Minister of Agriculture or by the Agricultural Committee of the British Empire Exhibition. My information is that he was chosen by the Minister of Agriculture and that it was his recommendation that foisted Mr. Oost on the unwilling committee of the British Empire Exhibition. The appointment of Mr. Oost to a mission of which the itinerary is in his own discretion—
What about the railways?
The hon. member is evidently seeing visions. I am speaking of the expenditure of the publicity vote of the railway. The hon. member has my sympathy for not having been as happy a man to-day as he might have been had he been chosen for a high office, but that is not my fault. I am dealing with the farcical conditions of Mr. Oost’s appointment. He is allowed to choose his own itinerary, he is allowed to travel at will, and we have not yet been informed of the period of his appointment. We are committed to an expenditure of the whole of his railway fares, steamship fares, and three guineas per diem on top of these paid expenses. These are among the conditions which render the appointment so farcical, and these are among the conditions which have contributed, in my opinion, to the indignation of the Minister over the criticism of the appointment. I would still press the Minister to let us know by whom Mr. Oost was chosen, how the appointment was made, and as to what his qualifications are in regard to farming. We are told that he knows a great deal about farming. My information is that Mr. Oost has been any indifferent journalist., but he has never had anything to do with farming in his life, and he has no knowledge whatsoever of farming or industrial matters.
The hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) now gets up to excuse himself. The whole House knows that he has always gone on in that way. While he was still on the Government benches he attacked Minister Mentz in just the same way. We remember the case of Boshof and the member’s attack on Minister Mentz.
On a point of order, the hon. member (Mr. J. S. F. Pretorius) entirely misrepresents the speech I made. I brought up the undesirability of Capt. Boshof’s appointment after he had been discharged, and received payment of leave gratuities.
That was always his method in the House. He makes personal attacks. In the Boshof case he went so far as to expose the character of the officer.
On a point of order, is the hon. member entitled to refer to the Defence Vote on this question? He is referring to my remarks on the Defence Vote three years ago. Is he entitled to refer to any such question in this debate?
He is entitled to refer incidentally to it, but, of course, the hon. member is not entitled to go into it deeply.
It is not in any way connected with this debate.
The whole House is tired of the member. He always has books from the library in his hand and makes long quotations. We also get the reports and study them. One would say that the House is a school. I think the people send us here as men of sense. The hon. member continues to attack and the whole House is tired of it. We should have respect one for another. Let Mr. Oost be whatever he may, but he is an honourable man. The Minister has made a statement but the hon. member keeps labouring the point.
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, is the hon. member entitled—
Don’t take any notice.
I may inform the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) that I am watching the debate.
There are one or two matters which I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister, perhaps small in themselves, but which are giving a good deal of dissatisfaction in the places concerned. I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that we are very short of passenger rolling stock, and this means that very unfair treatment is meted out to the travelling public. Old and obsolete coaches are being used, and passengers are made to put up with all sorts of inconveniences. This is especially noticeable so far as the coloured and native passengers are concerned, and we see these people crowded like sheep in the compartments. Then there is the question of making people travel in compartments inferior to those for which they hold a ticket. If the unfortunate traveller is found travelling in a compartment superior to the one for which he holds a ticket he is made to pay, but the department does the reverse with impunity. We are also very short in regard to all sorts of goods rolling stock, and many complaints have reached me as to the delay in the delivery of goods. In some places it takes several days to take goods from one town to another only a few miles apart. In spite of these shortages, some of our railway carriage and wagon depots are being prevented from turning out their maximum output, and in several centres some of the men are on day work. The reason for this the men cannot understand. They see from the newspapers that very extensive orders for trucks and coaches are being placed overseas, whilst their own earnings are being decreased from 25 to 30 per cent. owing to the slackness of work. They feel that in this respect the Minister is not playing the game with the staff, and it also makes them feel that the Government is out to support any industry but their own. Another matter affecting a large portion of the staff engaged on the railways at Port Elizabeth is that of the electric light for the railway quarters at Sydenham. The attitude of the Minister over this is inexplicable. Millions of pounds can be found for various schemes, but a few hundreds for the comfort of the men and their families cannot be spared, although the outlay will mean a considerable monthly revenue to the department. Now, I come to a matter which affects every part of the community and that is the reduction of railway rates, and I want to say at once that I do not believe in the theory that the lowering of the railway rates means the lowering of the railwaymen’s wages; to my mind it is just the reverse. The lower the rates the greater the traffic, and the larger the revenue. As the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) has pointed out the Minister stated that the whole industry of the Union was dependent on cheap and efficient railway transport, and in spite of the fact that to-day we are paying 33⅓ per cent. above pre-war prices, he still refuses to reduce railway rates. The small agricultural farmer is especially hard hit as owing to the distance he is afraid to send his produce to those markets where the public are crying out for his products and is compelled to send them to local near-by markets. These are soon flooded, and the consequence is that the middleman buys up the products, sends them to agents all over the Country, the consumer is made to pay an exorbitant price, whilst the producer gets nothing and a large portion of the community is debarred from getting those commodities so necessary to health. The small farmer and the agriculturist all over the Union are affected, and if some relief is not given to these people, I am afraid they will be driven off the land, and in this connection I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to a paragraph which appeared in yesterday’s “Cape Times” in regard to the influx of the people from the country into Port Elizabeth, as I feel sure that a large number of these people who are flocking into Port Elizabeth come from the Minister’s own constituency, and were at one time on the land.
The hon. member for Klip River (Mr. Andersen) has raised the question of housing for railway employees at Ladysmith. The Administration has spent a very large amount in providing houses at different centres, but unfortunately we have not been able to keep pace with the demand. There is a continual demand from the staff for additional houses, and we are, as far as funds permit, providing additional houses at the different centres. In the loan estimates this year we are providing an amount for housing; and the requirements of Ladysmith will be taken into consideration.
†*The hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. J. F. Tom Naudé) has mentioned the matter of lads who have not been treated in a sympathetic way on the railways. I can give him the assurance that if that happens then it is against the order of the Minister and the higher officers, and he only has to bring the particulars to the notice of the department. He has also asked what our position is in connection with the fencing of the railway line. The position is that certain lines are excluded from the obligations to fence. In the case of the others we must of course bear half the expense. In the former case where we have the funds we are willing to assist the owner. If we have not the funds then we cannot do so.
†The hon. member (Mr. Heatlie) who raised the question of the employment of boys in railway workshops quite misunderstood my remarks. What I said to the hon. member for Lydenburg (Mr. Nieuwenhuize) was that instructions had been issued to keep the balance between town and country as regards the appointment of these boys. But I pointed out that a boy of a lower standard than VI has not much chance of admission to the service, for we have such a large number of boys with higher qualifications and we want to increase the educational standard of the service. I made the very point the hon. member has raised, for I said that in the case of the boys of the lower standard they would be better advised to remain on the land. He has asked what steps Mr. Oost had taken to get into touch with co-operative bodies and others before going overseas. During the last weeks he was in South Africa he went all over the country, visiting all the agricultural colleges, and was in touch with certainly a very large number of the co-operative societies—certainly with those in the Transvaal, and I understand he has been in touch with the Board of Control in Cape Town in regard to the fruit question. Generally, he gathered information from all over the country. The hon. member asked why the appointment was not made known. I was under the impression that the House and the country knew about it; there was no intention on my part not to disclose that the appointment had been made; in fact shortly after a question was put on the paper and the reply was given that Mr. Oost had been appointed. Now the hon. member for Worcester has raised the question of the export of dried fruit. I have a complaint against the co-operative societies of the Western Province. The hon. member knows that I have placed our publicity department at the disposal of the co-operative societies and other interests dealing with everything connected with the dried and fresh fruit industry in South Africa, and the hon. member was present when I made the offer. So far as the publicity department is concerned, we are prepared to give every assistance to find overseas and develop our home markets. Does the hon. member know what the result has been? I will read to him a letter from the hon. secretary of the Dried Fruit Packers and Distributors Association—
I want to say to the hon. member it is most disappointing.
In the case of Mr. Allen, you were in earnest, and in the case of Mr. Oost you were not.
The mission of Mr. Oost became known to the country shortly after it was made.
And the country has not yet recovered from the shock.
The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), does not realize that the fruit growers must find increased markets, or, if he does realize it, he does not care. I am dealing with the hon. member for Worcester who does care. It is most disappointing, and I ask him to deal with the co-operative societies and ask them to get into touch with the Publicity Department. I place the responsibility on the co-operative societies. The railway department can do no more than to undertake to co-operate with them and say that we will help them. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan), raised the question of the eight hours’ days. I must ask the hon. member to be patient. We hope to meet next session, can then discuss the matter and criticize if necessary. As a fair-minded man, I ask him not to press me further with regard to this matter. It has been referred to the committee consisting of members nominated and elected. As I have indicated, they have practically finished taking evidence, and will submit their report in due course, when the whole matter will be dealt with, including the case of the men on the south coast line. The hon. member cannot wish me to pre-judge the position. I trust that the House will now pass the vote.
Amendment put and negatived.
Head 1, put and agreed to.
On the motion of the Minister of Railways and Harbours it was agreed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported; House to resume in committee to-morrow.
House adjourned at