House of Assembly: Vol5 - MONDAY 13 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
Death Duties Act, 1922, Amendment Bill read a first time; second reading on Wednesday.
The MINISTER OF LANDS laid upon the Table—
Papers referred to Select Committee on Crown Lands.
Message received from the Senate returning the Settlements (Committee of Management) Bill, with an amendment.
On the motion of the Minister of Lands the amendment was considered.
Amendment in Clause 3 (Dutch) put and agreed to.
Message received from the Senate returning the Public Auctions and Transactions in Live-stock and Produce Bill with certain amendments.
I object. I think this ought to stand over. There are several amendments which should be looked into.
Amendments to be considered to-morrow.
First Order read: Second reading, South-West Africa Constitution Bill.
The Bill at present before the House has now been published for some time, and I think that the, memorandum which has been laid on the Table and which no doubt hon. members have read will make it much easier for me to be as brief as possible. At the same time there are certain facts which I think I ought to lay before the House, and there are perhaps some of the details which, in spite of the memorandum, I should slightly touch upon. I am very glad to say that so far we have succeeded, I think, in keeping this matter outside of party politics, and I am very thankful for the assistance given me by hon. members on the opposite side—the leader of the Opposition, and the right hon. member for Forb Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt)—in meeting me in the manner they have done in order to see that when the Bill comes before this House it shall contain as little as possible that may be of a contentious nature, but at the same time shall also contain everything that may be necessary to the people on whose behalf and for whose benefit we are trying to pass this legislation. The House will no doubt remember that in September last, when the Bill was introduced making provision for the naturalization of the German element in South-West, I then said I thought the time had come when we should see that the people of the South-West territory be put in the position of having a greater say over the government of that territory by and through themselves. I also said that it ought to be our endeavour to see that whatever measures we took in this House should, as much as possible, be in conformity with the desire of the people of South-West. Well, I may say this, that since then, in November last. I visited the territory, I had conversations with a great many of the people, I visited the most important centres, and had representations made to me by both the two great sections of South-West, namely, what I may perhaps call the German section, and the Union section; and I tried, as much as possible, to ascertain from them what their desire was and in what manner they thought it was best to meet that desire. One thing was immediately very clear to me, and that was that both sections were very desirous of having a change in the present system of administration. The desire was due, principally, and I may say almost exclusively to the natural wish that they themselves should have a greater “say” both with regard to legislation and with regard to the administration of the territory. What I further found there was this that as far as these two sections were concerned there was no doubt a certain degree of—perhaps this is almost too strong-aloofness from one another. I say this is almost too strong a word to use, because socially they intermingle quite freely; politically, too, there was on the whole a feeling of co-operation and of trust, but at the same time you felt this, that there was just a feeling of suspicion still, that if this or that party was allowed to get the upper hand it would come to dominate over the other party. There was just that feeling of suspicion and of fear. It was very clear to me—may I say that I was very vividly reminded again of our own position in South Africa after the Boer war—and the reasons for this attitude were to my mind very clear, and to my mind that feeling was very natural. I felt at once that whatever form of self-government we were to give to the territory should be of such a nature that it would lead to closer co-operation, and to a feeling of identity of interests, and so gradually work for the consolidarity of the people, doing away with all suspicion, etc. It was also very clear to me that we must be very careful that we did not by any measure of self-government we gave to the people, in any way add to or cause any conflict between the two parties at the start off, or rather, that we should not place them in a position whereby they would come to stand in opposite camps. We had to try, as much as possible, almost from the start, to throw them together in such a manner that they have to work together. I have tried to ascertain from themselves what and how we should give them, and in what manner. It was very clear to me, in the first place, that they all wanted a legislature of their own, but at the same time both parties—there were few exceptions on either side—all wanted a legislature so constituted that for the time being the Union Government should have the power to rectify any over-weight that may be cast into the one or the other scale through the elections; in other words, that the members of the legislature should not all be elected, but some should be nominated by the Government. I think the same was indicated with respect to the executive. After I had received their advice, and after both written and oral representations had been made to me, I drafted the Bill which at present is upon the Table of the House. I just want to say here that after it had been drafted I again invited representatives from both the two sections in South-West to come and see me, and discuss the Bill with me, and I think I may fairly say that the result was this, that although both might have liked to have got a little more power, at the same time they both felt that under the circumstances this was a fair and reasonable measure of legislative power, and of administrative power that was being vested in them. And to this extent they feel satisfied: that both of them declared to me that they have no doubt that they are going to act together to make this Bill a success, if it were to go through. I may just say this: I do not need to go into the legal position of South-West as it stands to-day. That is fully explained in the memorandum which I have laid upon the Table; but I may here say a few words in regard to the financial position of South-West. That has not been set forth in the memorandum; and I think I may give hon. members just a brief survey of what the position is there to-day. Since 1920 there has been yearly a surplus as far as the revenue is concerned: in 1920-’21 of £569,000; in 1921-’22, of £53,000: in 1922’23, of £195,000 and in 1923-’24, of £167,000. In 1924-’25 there was a deficit of £46,000, but leaving in 1925, there is a net surplus of £938,000. This surplus has been applied towards capital expenditure for the greatest extent. For instance, to the Land Bank was given £461,000. to railway construction £160,000, to lands advances to settlers, etc. £187,000, municipalities £30,000, and for defence £7,000, altogether £845,000, leaving still a balance of £93,000. This is practically the position of the territory to-day. Of course it has some other liabilities; for instance, on the railway construction of harbour works at Walfish Bay it has guaranteed the interest upon £600,000. That means about £30,000 per annum. That practically puts the position as regards the present finances of the territory. Of course we know that practically two-thirds of the revenue is got from mines and mining, but so far I think we may say that financially the position in South-West Africa is sound. There is no doubt, of course, that they will have to look after their expenditure in South-West. I want briefly to set forth the provisions as contained in the Bill. I will just run over it without going into details. The idea laid down in the Bill is that we shall give to the territory a legislative assembly of 18 members, 12 of whom are to be elected, and six of whom are to be nominated by the Government. Now we come to the powers of this legislature. We have, of course, to be very careful always; because of our peculiar position as mandatories. We can never forget that the Government of the Union are the mandatories for the South-West territory. Now there are certain subjects which we found we could not hand over to them to legislate upon. Section 25 lays down that, subject to the provisions, restrictions, reservations, and exceptions contained in this Act and subject also to the powers of disallowance reserved to the Governor-General as hereinafter provided, the Assembly shall have power to make laws, to be entitled “ordinances,” for the territory. But in Clause 26 the Bill goes on to say that there are certain subjects: native affairs, mines, minerals, mineral oils and precious stones, the acquisition, construction, management, regulation, control, and working of the railways and harbours; the organization of and discipline and conditions of employment of persons in the public service; the constitution and jurisdiction of courts of justice; the administration, management and working of posts and telegraphs; the military organization; the movements or operations of the defence forces within the territory; the entry of immigrants; tariffs of customs and excise duties and currency, banking, and the control of banking institutions. These are questions which are withheld from this legislative assembly, and they are withheld permanently, except in so far as, with the consent of the Governor-General-in-Council, they may get the right to legislate upon these subjects, or certain things in connection with these subjects. In Clause 27 there are certain subjects which it was considered it would be advisable to have the legislative assembly legislate upon eventually; but just because of the peculiar position of the country at this moment; because of the mutual fear which exists between the two parties, which I have indicated, it was better that they should be reserved for the time being from the legislative assembly, but that they should be entrusted to the legislative assembly the moment when that assembly showed by the manner in which the two sections co-operated with one another that it was desirous and that it was capable of legislating and dealing with these subjects. And here, with regard to these temporarily reserved subjects, the power is given to the legislative assembly, alter three years, by resolution carried by two-thirds of the assembly to say that they desire that these subjects, or any of them, should be entrusted to them for the purpose of being legislated upon. Hon. members will see the necessity, apart from the mere necessities of the case as it stands to-day, to prevent anyone of the parties being unduly anxious, through immediately assuming an attitude of hostility over against the other, and the virtue that one finds in the provision that after three years they may thus legislate. Now it is really an inducement to them from within, and by their close co-operation and friendly attitude over against one another to develop their own powers more and more, and so gradually assume the power of legislating in the country for themselves. I think that hon. members will admit that through this there is every possibility that these people will very soon find that it is really in their interest to co-operate, and that if they do so we may be quite sure that the position in South-West will very soon be one of such a kind that it will be to the greatest advantage not only to the territory itself, but also to the Union. That is as far as the legislative assembly is concerned. The next institution is the executive committee. The assembly and the people will have, as the administrative authority of the country, an executive committee which is to consist of five, with the Administrator as chairman, and four members to be elected from the assembly, either from its own members or from others outside. This committee will, therefore, be the executive of the country, and it will have the powers of administration with regard to all the subjects which are entrusted to the assembly, as matters upon which the assembly may itself legislate. We have this position. If it were an ordinary case, simply of giving the people authority to govern themselves, it would have ended here. But now we have our own position as mandatories, with the reservation of a number of important subjects to the Union Government, with regard to which the power of legislation will be with the Union Government alone. The Union Government, therefore, will still be legislating as it is now, by proclamation, and, therefore, we shall have a second legislative authority in the country. It is also clear that as there will be a second legislative authority there must be, as it were, a second administrative body. According to this Bill the Administrator will be really the administrating authority as far as those subjects reserved to the Union Government are concerned. It would be highly unsatisfactory if we had two administrative authorities and two legislatures in South-West with no connection between them. We have thought it only right that not only should they not be totally independent of one another, but that your local authorities should be in such a position that they would know what is going on as far as these reserved subjects are concerned, and also that they should be given an opportunity of having some chance of giving advice. What the Bill contemplates is this, that there shall be such a connecting link and that it shall consist of an advisory council. There is at present an advisory council to the Administrator in South-West. That advisory council will perform the same functions as far as these subjects which are not reserved to the Union Government, but it shall be assisted by four members of the executive committee. In other words, the four members of the executive committee shall form part of the advisory council to the Administrator, with the result that there shall be an advisory council of eight, consisting of the four members of the executive committee, the Administrator, and three other members to be appointed by the Administrator, and one shall be appointed because of his intimate knowledge of native affairs. Thus, while they have their independent executive and legislature in regard to matters entrusted to them to legislate upon, they will also have an advisory influence on the advisory council through these four men. These people will always be in contact with what is going on as far as the Union Government and the. Administrator are concerned. In that way it was sought to bring about that connection and to give the people of the country a “say,” even with respect to those subjects which have been reserved, and are being-reserved, to the Governor-General-in-Council. Now I wish to say a few words with regard to the Union’s position as mandatory. All that has been done by granting this constitution to the territory cannot be looked upon in any other light, legally, as, but a delegation of certain powers by us, the mandatory to that legislative assembly and the executive. We as the mandatory will always have to stand there as being the highest legislative body as far as South-West is concerned —n power of which we cannot divest ourselves, so that in the highest resort and the ultimate resort it will always lie with the Union and must necessarily lie with the Union Government. I may here just refer to what is mentioned in the memorandum, namely, that the Union Parliament stands in a somewhat unique position in regard to the whole question, the mandate having been given to the Government of the Union. We might have followed the line of simply laying down this constitution by way of proclamation, for it is nothing, but a delegation of power by the mandatory to the people of South-West. I think it would have been a mistake if we had done it. I think the attitude adopted by the previous Government is a correct one, namely, that the Union Parliament, to whom the Government of the South-West owes subordination—it is practically a body of this House—should feel that it is this Union Parliament which has the last “say” in the matter, no matter whether its name is mentioned or not in the mandate. That at any rate, as far as the Government is concerned, is the attitude it ought to adopt. I have felt from the first this is a matter of such importance that we should come and get the sanction of Parliament before it is put into effect. This is a feeling that every member of the House shares with me, but I think it is necessary we should be reminded of this from time to time. Now I will say a few words with regard to the finances of the South-West under the Act. In the first place there will be a territory revenue fund, and all the income from the territory must go directly into that fund. In the second place, no monies can be drawn from the fund except by appropriation, and no appropriation can take place except on the recommendation of the Administrator. The appropriation has to be confirmed by the assembly. Only in one instance will there be a departure from that, and that is in case the assembly fails to pass the necessary appropriation or the necessary tax to get the necessary money. Then it is provided the Governor-General may, by proclamation, step in and say such and such monies are appropriated or such and such a tax shall be levied. It is evident it is necessary to have such a regulation or we might come to a deadlock. Now as to the language. The German language may be used in courts of law by all parties and their agents or advocates. All legislation and important public notices shall be published in the* Government Gazette” in the German language. It is exactly what is taking place to-day and has been all the time, and everyone of us who has gone through the circumstances in the Union know how much that must necessarily be, so as to be calculated to bring about a feeling of satisfaction and to get the people to throw in their lot and to work as far as possible in harmony with us in the Union. I come now to the amendment of the constitution. It has been felt we should not make this constitution so rigid that whenever a change is brought about we should come to Parliament with it. Hon. gentlemen can see at once where we have said, as we do say in the constitution, to the people of the South-West: we give you certain powers, you can after three years have more powers if you decide that there must be a change of the provisions of this Bill, that to force them and the Union Government to come to this House every time would be totally unnecessary and unwise. With the result, whenever any change is brought about in the constitution, it can be done by the Union Government, but it will not have any effect unless it has been laid for one month on the Tables of both Houses of Parliament. In that way Parliament will have every necessary control to see that nothing takes place in regard to this constitution which it may think harmful to the general interests of the Union, and to its position as mandatory, because practically the Parliament of the Union is the mandatory. It must be clear to us all, in fact it shows on the face of it in this Bill that it is a mere transition measure When I visited that country I was struck at once with the conviction that the South-West, large as it is, I have not the least doubt it can never stand and develop properly upon and by its own resources and upon its own legs. Immediately one sees it you feel it is naturally and in every respect destined to be a part of the Union, and I have not the least doubt that the people there, especially now if they take over a part of the government of the country as contemplated, will soon feel their interests are so identical with the interests of the Union that they will feel the necessity of being more closely associated with the Union than they are under this Bill. I may say also—I don’t think I say too much—that already a great majority of the people in South-West do see that and do feel their ultimate destination is to be with the Union. This is merely a transition measure, and it is not contemplated to be anything more. Of course, the people of the country have it within their power, under this Bill, to act by themselves, to carry on the government of the country by themselves, without any necessity, and I hope it is never going to be done, of any force or influence being exercised from the Union to compel them to take a step in the direction of closer association with the Union. It is one of those cases where the exercise of freedom is going to be the best means of bringing it home to them that their interests are the same as our interests in the Union. I may say finally a few words for the information of hon. members. Roughly speaking, there are to-day in the territory 3.261 male adult British subjects, that is roughly—there may be more—but I take it is fairly right. Then naturalized British subjects, that is naturalized since the Bill passed in December last, number 3,237. Among these there are 269 women. Only 262 declared themselves as not desirous of becoming British subjects. The European population is, plus minus. 20,000. Hon. members will see that the Union section and the German section are more or less equally divided, the Union section being in the majority by about 300. Now we have, in addition to these people that are in the territory. 300 odd coloured people from the Cape, about 330 or 340.
Are they included in the number you have given us?
No, but I mention this because I have had representations from these people to give them the franchise in South-West. Well, as hon. members will see from the schedule, the vote is confined to the Europeans, and the reason why I have done this is because we are in this position to-day, that of the four provinces of the Union, only the Cape has given the franchise to the coloured man. Now let me say at once that the stamp of coloured man that you have in South-West is of the better type, but in spite of that I have not found it advisable to extend the franchise to these people, because, as I was saying, out of the four provinces in the Union, only the Cape has given the franchise to the coloured man. It is very clear to me that the time has come when your other provinces will also have to make provision for the extension of the franchise to the Cape coloured man, but you cannot do it, I felt that I could not give the coloured man in the South-West territory that right to-day while we are not prepared to do so in the northern provinces, for the people there would have the right to say to the Government—
How about the Rehoboths?
They are quite different. They do not come into consideration at all, because they have a territory of their own where local government, I hope, will be given to them again one of these days, and where they will be encouraged by us in such a manner that, I hope, after some years, they will be able to govern themselves completely again. I am now speaking in regard to the Cape coloured. I have already said that I have not the least doubt that the time has arrived when the franchise in the northern provinces will have to be extended to the coloured man. I am also, I hope, in January or February next, to lay before this House proposals with regard to the whole question, as I have said before, of the natives and native policy, and also in regard to the coloured man in South Africa, and I felt that if we are going to do this, if we are going to settle the question of the coloured man and his political rights in these other provinces, then it ought to be settled on the same lines and on the same basis, as far as South-West is concerned, and, in order to do that, it is very clear that certain measures will have to be taken, certain provisions will have to be made, as far as the Cape coloured man is concerned, which you cannot, or which I am not prepared to-day to lay down in the Bill now before the House. I may say here that I have, in answer to these people who have written to me to have the franchise extended also to them, said pointedly that it is my intention and the intention of members on this side of the House, to provide for that, and provide for it at an early date next year or so, and that then their case will be considered and decided upon together with the case of the other provinces of the Union where they have not got the franchise at the present moment. I do not think that I need say anything more in regard to this Bill. As I have said before, I think that the memorandum which accompanied this Bill, when it was laid upon the Table of the House, sets forth the whole case very fully, both as to the position in South-West and as to what is intended by this legislation, which is now laid before the House, and with these few words I move the second reading of the Bill.
I wish to congratulate the Prime Minister on the interesting statement which he has made to the House, a statement which in many respects, at any rate to me, seems fairly satisfactory. I may say at once, that I reciprocate the intention of the Prime Minister not to discuss this measure in any party spirit. We have for years now looked upon the question of South-West Africa as a non-party question, and I hope we shall continue to do so. The Prime Minister invited my right hon. friend, the member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) and myself to discuss with him the question before he finally framed the Bill. We had an opportunity to make certain suggestions, the more important of which have been incorporated into this Bill, and under those circumstances I do not propose, in what I am going to say, to discuss at any length the detailed provisions of this Bill, which the Prime Minister has already fully explained, I take it that if a constitution has to be given to South-West Africa it would, on the whole, be wise and expedient to proceed on the lines of this Bill. That I am prepared to concede. The question arises whether the time has come to give such a constitution to South-West, whether the time is ripe, and on that there may be a considerable difference of opinion. Some years ago the Government appointed a Commission to go into the question of a future constitution for South-West. That Commission consisted of very able men and after very lull evidence in South-West and very full consideration of the whole subject, they came to the conclusion that it would not be advisable to give a constitution to South-West Africa until the population was larger than it is to-day, they mentioned a limit which should be reached by the male population before a constitution should be given. Now it is clear that that limit has not yet been reached, and it therefore may be a question whether we are acting wisely in giving the constitution so early to South-West. It is a very small community and a very big country with quite considerable problems: the people are immersed in their daily affairs and very few can give attention to the larger questions which concern their country, and naturally under these circumstances there will be a question as to whether the time is ripe to give them a constitution. On that question I have no doubt, and I am clearly of opinion that the time has come when action has to be taken. It would be wrong on the part of the Union Government to delay the granting of a constitution to South-West unduly. Both parts of the population, the old German population and the newer Union population, have been clamouring for some time for a constitution. They are very tired of being ruled on what they consider autocratic and bureaucratic lines. Certainly the Union part come from a country where they have been accustomed all their lives to the most ample measure of self-government, and they, therefore, do not understand the benevolent autocracy which has been holding sway over them. Whilst I say this let me interject that in what I am saying I am not making any reflection whatever on the local Government in South-West Africa. What the Prime Minister has said goes to prove how good that Government has been. Whilst we here, year after year, have been faced with deficits in the Union, a country next door to us has been revelling in big surpluses. No greater tribute could be paid to Mr. Hofmeyr than the figures which were mentioned by the Prime Minister. Mr. Hofmeyr may, like all great men, have made mistakes in detail, but there is no doubt he has given to the country a wise rule and a strong rule: and if the standard of Government, of cheap efficient good government, which he has given to South-West Africa, is maintained. I have no doubt that it will do very much for the future development and the future good of that country. But, however good the Government, we have to accept the fact that both the old and the new population have been clamouring for reform and for change, and a change in my opinion has become inevitable. If the Union Government had delayed longer in giving constitution to South-West Africa, it would inevitably have led to misunderstandings. I must congratulate the Government on the step they have taken; I think they have acted wisely. Apart from the Union population I think they have acted wisely so far as the German population is concerned, too. I know, at the back of many minds, is the fear that perhaps the time has not yet come to trust the German population of South-West Africa sufficiently fully to give them a Constitution like this. I have not that feeling. My feeling is this, that the old German population of South-West Africa have behaved themselves, not only in a correct manner, but in an exemplary manner ever since that country was occupied by Union forces: they have been peaceable and daw-abiding; they have given the Government support in all directions, and in all the time I have had dealings with them, I have found no reason whatever to doubt the word they have given or to find fault with the manner in which they have submitted to the laws of the Government of the Union. It is not only the German population that has taken up that correct attitude; I go further and say the German Government in Germany have done the same. Two years ago when I was in London. I had the opportunity, as I have mentioned previously, to meet representatives of the German Government, and to discuss this question of the future with them; and it was quite clear to me from what they said, that the German Government was clear on this point, that it was in the interests of the German people of South-West to throw in their lot with the Union of South Africa. The German Government wept further: they agreed that on the German population of South-West being met in certain minor respects, as we did meet them, the German Government would use all the influence it had with the people in order to induce them to become British subjects and to accept the status quo. The covering letter the German Government gave at the time of the negotiations is proof sufficient that for them—so far as Governments have to decide in these matters—it was a closed question. They looked upon the future of South-West Africa as a closed question; they looked upon it as bound up with the Union of South Africa, and whole-heartedly they advised their own people, their own nationals, to become Union nationals, to become British subjects. Where from the other side we have been met with this attitude, it would be churlish on our part not to show confidence in the German people of South-West Africa, and therefore I think that the Government has acted wisely. The German population of South-West Africa have responded, both to our appeal and to the advice of their own Government; and the Prime Minister has given us the figures as to the numbers which have become British subjects. It appears that while only 262 have decided to remain Germans, 3,237, practically the whole adult population, have decided to throw in their lot with the Union and to become British subjects. To me that is a very heartening fact; and looking to the future of South Africa, knowing the racial difficulties we have, and knowing the great task of European development and civilization that lies before us. I consider that this is a most encouraging fact and something which demands a clear unequivocal response of goodwill from us such as we have in this constitution to-day. I think this is a very great opportunity for us to close our ranks. The great war, from the point of view of Africa and of white people living in Africa, has been an unmeasured calamity. For the first time in history, the black peoples of Africa have seen the white men fighting each other—huge armies of white men contending with each other. We have exposed our nakedness before them; they have seen the weakness of European civilization, and a situation such as that is bound to bring about very serious consequences for us here on this African continent. The division in our ranks; the way we have exposed our moral weakness, is bound to reflect on the future of this African continent, and even to-day we see what is happening in the north of Africa. We have seen quite recently in South-West itself what consequences follow; what temper among the native peoples has been bred, by the results of war, and on all grounds of prudence and foresight in respect of the future of South Africa, we are called upon—the white, the European peoples here in this sub-continent—to close our ranks, and to my mind this measure which the Government is taking to-day is one of the decisive occasions where we are going finally to close our ranks and say “good-bye” to the past and are going to join hands with this population and incorporate them into our system in this sub-continent. I may say that, whatever doubt there may be in some minds, the Germans are going to be a very valuable part of our South African population. Here, in the Union, wherever they have settled in pre-war times, in small communities, they have been amongst the most valuable of our citizens, and I have no doubt—whatever may still be their attitude or state of mind to-day—they are in South-West also, in the years to come, going to be a very potent and valuable factor to our civilization, and are going to make a very great contribution to building up European civilization in this sub-continent. I therefore welcome this measure on those larger grounds. I have only one doubt in regard to the constitution, as I have expressed to the Prime Minister, when we discussed this Bill before, and that is whether he has gone far enough in the measure which is now before the House. I confess, frankly, that I would have preferred to have seen incorporated in this Bill, representation in the Union Parliament for the people of South-West. I whole-heartedly share the view of the Prime Minister that the future of South-West Africa is with the Union, and I also agree with him that that is the view, not only of the Union population in South-West, but of a large portion of the German population there—those who can get away from the animosities of the past and get away from the war, and are far-sighted enough to see that South-West can never stand on its own legs. They agree that the future is with the Union; but I should have liked to see some clear recognition of that fact in this constitution. If I had had to frame this constitution I would probably have gone that length. I would have given the people of South-West, pari passu with this constitution, a measure of representation in the Union Parliament in respect of those powers which are reserved here and which probably will have to be reserved for all time. Hon. members will see that these are very large and far-reaching powers. Do not let us hide from ourselves that not much is given in the way of self-government in this constitution. The most important matters that will affect South-West Africa are reserved for the Union. That long list in section 26 contains practically everything of far-reaching importance that will ever concern the people. I think that, in respect of these reserved Dowers, too, we should have trusted the population of South-West and given them representation in the only possible way, that is, in the Union Parliament. They would thus have been linked up at this stage when we are at the parting of the ways: South-West Africa would have linked up with the whole of the Union system. It is doubtful what is going to happen in future. Perhaps I should not say it is doubtful, but it may be doubtful. It is clear that this constitution, as the Prime Minister stated, is temporary, a makeshift, a, beginning, and that that country cannot last long under this sort of Government which we are establishing under this Act. It will prove irksome. They will very soon find that in many matters that affect their daily lives, and affect them deeply, they have no right of self-government; that these matters fall under the reserved powers, and naturally, irritation will spring up; agitation will spring up; there will be a clamour for a change, and the question will be in what direction we shall move then. The Prime Minister says his intention is to move in the direction of closer union with the Union; but it is possible also a different temper may spring up, not only among the German population, but our own Union population in South-West. We have seen within the last few years in Rhodesia, that people, the majority of whom, perhaps, came from the Union originally, voting to remain out of the Union, and to follow on lines of their own. I think we have to bear that in mind, and also that not only the German people, but even the Union people; people of Union extraction may, in the course of some years, under political development and other developments which we cannot foresee to-day, prefer to go their own way, and instead of the tendency being to closer union, may be towards drifting further away from the Union, and it is on that ground that I would have preferred to have seen some definite linking up of the two countries. You have those very large reserved powers over which they will have no voice, unless through this Union Parliament. They will never get any voice, because I cannot conceive any Union Parliament ever giving away those matters which are reserved in Clause 26, not at any rate in general principle, and, therefore, they will never have any say about these matters. The only place they could have a say is in Parliament, and we might have trusted them to that extent, that from the very first we should have had an appropriate number of representatives from South-West in both our Houses of Parliament, and they would have had their say here in regard to these very large and important reserved powers. Now they will have no say and the danger is that they may agitate and clamour for autonomy, and when this proceeds far enough the movement may be away from us instead of towards us. I am sorry we are running that risk. I should have preferred the two countries more closely linked up at this stage. When I urge this it may be said that I am working in favour of the annexation of South-West Africa to the Union; but I am not. I do not think it is necessary for us to annex South-West to the Union. The mandate for me is enough, and it should be enough for the Union. It gives the Union such complete power of sovereignty, not only administrative, but legislative, that we need not ask for anything more. When the covenant of the League of Nations and, subsequently, the mandate gave to us the right to administer that country as an integral portion of the Union, everything was given to us. I remember at the Peace Conference one of the great powers tried to modify the position, and instead of saying “as an integral portion,” an amendment was made to introduce the word “if” so that it should read—
of the mandatory power. But, after consideration, the “if” was struck out. We, therefore, have the power to govern South-West Africa actually as an integral portion of the Union. Under these circumstances I maintain—and I have always maintained—that it will never be necessary for us, as far as I can see, to annexe South-West. We can always continue to fulfil the conditions imposed on us by the mandate, and we can always render annual reports to the League of Nations in respect of the mandate. It may not be necessary, specially in regard to South-West, but it will be necessary in regard to many other territories where abuses may exist, and let us make our little sacrifice in order that our example may support the whole system of mandatory government which I think is a great improvement in world government at large. No, I do not ask for annexation at all, but I ask that in the exercise of the mandate, as it is, that we should associate not only the Government, but also the Parliament of this country, and give South-West representation in Parliament, so that in the exercise of our mandate we can give complete trust to the people, and give them a locus standing in the Legislature. However, the Prime Minister has not done it. He explained to me that it might be done later, but that at present it would look as if we were forcing the pace or taking a step to force closer union between the two countries, and that public opinion might not be ripe for that step. I feel we have missed a very important opportunity of once for all stereotyping the constitution and treating South-West Africa very much on the line of giving her local interests, and giving her also, in respect of those powers which we reserve and will always remain reserved, a voice in the Union Parliament. If that had been done, I would have agreed completely with the step which the Government has taken. No, sir, I have no further observations to make on this instrument. I think the time has come for it. I think in themselves the provisions are, on the whole, sound, and I only regret that the Prime Minister has not gone one step further and associated the people of. South-West with the system of parliamentary representation in this country.
The Prime Minister, in 1ns remarks, referred constantly to the two parties in South-West Africa, and I take it the Bill is very largely based on the representations made by them. There are a number of persons, however, who have not joined either of these parties. I for one welcome a measure by which this territory will reach another mile stone on the road which, I believe, will eventually lead to full representation in the Union Parliament and to better relations between the Union and the territory. I would, however, have liked to see a more liberal measure, although no doubt, the circumstances are peculiar. I have not had an opportunity of visiting the territory, but I have been in communication with some of the people there. When the delegates were invited here from South-West Africa a telegram was sent me from 29 inhabitants of Windhoek, including the editor of the “Windhoek Advertiser,” and they represented that six delegates had been invited to meet the Prime Minister, three representing the German interests, and the remainder representing Union interests, that the public was not consulted and the Union representatives had not the confidence of the citizens. I brought these representations to the notice of the Prime Minister who, very fairly, stated that he was asking delegates representing organized opinion, and if any other delegates wanted to see him they could do so. In a subsequent letter the editor of the “Windhoek Advertiser” wrote—
I take it this fact will be borne in mind when the administrator is considering the nomination of members of the legislative assembly and the advisory council. I sent a copy of the constitution and memorandum to the editor of the “Windhoek Advertiser,” who wrote me on June 26th—
I take it that there is no dissatisfaction with the measure even amongst that body which was not represented on the deputation which met the Prime Minister. There is only one other point, and that is in regard to Clause 38 of the Bill, which lays down what is to happen if the Assembly refuses, or makes inadequate, supply or rejects or fails to impose adequate taxation. In that event the administrator may transmit a full report of the matter to the Governor-General-in-Council who may, after consideration of the report and of any further report or recommendation on the matter by the Assembly, issue a proclamation providing for such appropriation or tax. The Assembly, if it fails to pass any such measure, or passes it with unacceptable amendments, will conduct its debates in public, and everybody will know why they failed to pass the ordinance, but there is nothing here to make the administrator’s report known to the Assembly. If the administrator is going to report in secret to the Union Government, and the Assembly holds its meetings in public, it will cause a tremendous amount of uneasiness and friction. I think with reference to the administrator’s report, that either before or after reaching the Union Cabinet, just as the Union Assembly’s reason for rejecting the measure, is known to the administrator, so also the administrator’s report should be in the hands of the other Assembly. It will be a handicap to the Assembly that their arguments should be publicly known and the administrator’s report may be in the nature of confidential matter, and they will not be able to deal with it, I hope the Prime Minister will take that into consideration, and see if we cannot make section 38 clear on the point. I must now express regrets of my own with regard to matters which have not been represented to me. I speak entirely for myself. I very much regret that it has been found necessary to put a colour bar into this constitution. The Prime Minister has given his reasons for this, but those of us who know what happens to colour bars in this country, know that it is easier to put one in than to take it out. We are beginning our constitution of South-West Africa with a colour bar, and it will be difficult to take that out. It is a pity the fact was not taken into consideration that so very few men were concerned in this matter, viz., 330 or 340 coloured people. I think the Prime Minister said. I think it would have been better to have started on the basis of some qualification. It means, practically, an adult white male suffrage in South-West Africa. I would have preferred a qualification suffrage. That would have given every civilized man a vote. In regard to the disqualification of voters, a man who has received relief from the public funds within 12 months will be disqualified. The Prime Minister knows the droughts that take place in South-West, and a large body of men may be affected, by sub-section (3) of the disqualification. We had the same trouble in a similar wording in the northern provinces. I suppose the idea is to take away the vote from persons regarded as paupers. As it is worded, it is going to be a serious matter, unless it is properly defined. For the rest, I congratulate the Prime Minister in bringing this Bill in. I wish it had not got these objections, but he has tackled the matter in a courageous manner, and it is a credit to the Government, after so short a time, that it has provided South-West with its first mile stone on the road to political progress. I hope soon they will have their second mile stone, which will give them representatives in this House, as an integral part of the Union.
The Government is to be congratulated on bringing forward a measure of this kind. I have no doubt some measure giving some power of self-government would have followed if there had not been any change of Government in the Onion. I would rather, however, that the change had taken the form outlined by the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts). That would have been a more satisfactory way, and the people would have appreciated a concession of that kind, because not only would they have had a voice in their own affairs, but a say in the affairs of the power in which their affairs have been vested by mandate. For reasons the Prime Minister considers are valid, he has not taken that step, and we must consider the Bill as it stands. I would like to refer to the machinery of the measure. We have had in South Africa a great many forms of Government. We had one form in Southern Rhodesia and another in Northern Rhodesia, and many forms of Government in the various provinces that make up the Union, and from the history of all these forms of Government it is possible to derive some lessons, and it seems to me the machinery now proposed is rather top heavy. I agree entirely with the idea that there should be a Legislative Council, in which the greater part of the members should be elected by the people—the proportion is 6 to 12—which is practically the same as at one time in Southern Rhodesia, but considering the small number of white people, 20,000. and considering the small budget, £750,000 a year, we have got rather unnecessary elaborate machinery in regard to the various councils proposed. First there is to be an executive council to deal with the administration of things in connection with which the Assembly may pass ordinances, and then we have an advisory council on which members of the executive council are to be represented to deal with matters not within the purview of the Assembly. I doubt if that is necessary. It is going to cost a considerable amount of expense, a large number of people will receive salaries, and I am afraid there will be some practical inconvenience in the administrator having to consult with two bodies, and I think it would have been simpler to give the administrator an executive council, the members of which would be members of the Assembly, and who would be taken from the nominated members of the Assembly. In that way there would have been one body with whom the administrator could consult, and there would be no question of the overlapping functions. The members of the executive council would be appointed only for fixed periods, so that it would be possible, if it was found they were not reflecting the general body of opinion in the country, to make changes in the members and nominate fresh people. It does seem to me that the procedure proposed is rather opening the door for the introduction of what surely should have been avoided as far as possible in a small population like that, viz., party politics. The method of electing the council foreshadows that there will be parties. That, I think, is unnecessary to start with. If the administrator, with a fixed council, had had to carry on the work of the administration, then I think it would have been possible to give the Assembly even greater powers of legislation than are given now. I do not think it would have been necessary to make such a hard and fast distinction between the things which are reserved and the things which are not reserved, still less to make the further distinction between things which are now reserved, and which may conceivably not be reserved after three years. The powers of the administrator, representing the Union Government are very large. It is provided that no measure can be introduced without his consent which involves expenditure. That, in itself, gives complete protection. Then, again, the administrator has power to veto any ordinance, which may be brought forward. An ordinance, I suppose, is not complete without the administrator’s sanction. The administrator on the instructions of the Union Government, can withhold his sanction. Then, again, there is the power of the Union Government to legislate by proclamation and the power of the Union Parliament to deal with all these matters in this House. Therefore, I think, myself, it would have been possible with a nominated executive for the people to have had really more control in a way than they will have under the proposed system. They would not find themselves face to face with a large list of things which are reserved from their authority altogether. In theory they would be able to legislate in connection with practically all these things, and it may quite well happen that there may be things—small matters perhaps, but still matters affecting the wellbeing of the people—in connection with the subjects which are reserved, on which it would be very desirable to have an ordinance passed locally, and as to which neither the administrator nor the Union Government could possibly have any objection. Further, it would be possible to do away with the three-year limit, to do away with a considerable portion of the reservations, without parting with the real authority which lies behind in the person of the administrator and in the last resort in the Union Government. I cannot help thinking that a system like that would have cost less, and would have been more convenient. Questions on which the Assembly can legislate, and on which it cannot legislate, are very closely intermingled. Then there are one or two minor matters. I see no reason, for example, why the administrator should not be chairman of the Assembly, and why it is necessary to have a separate chairman. I think that is quite unnecessary. In Rhodesia the administrator was always chairman. As to the qualifications of voters, I am inclined to agree with my hon. friend here (Mr. Alexander), that it is rather a mistake that we are not introducing a franchise more in the nature of the Cape franchise. I do not say at all that provision should, at this stage, be made for natives there, because, as far as I am aware, the number of natives who could possibly qualify is infinitesimally small. But I think it would have been more satisfactory if the constitution had given rights to the Cane coloured people, because the position, after all is not quite the same as is the question of giving rights in the Transvaal or the Free State, for it is one thing to alter an existing system, and it is another thing to make an entirely fresh start. Personally, I would have preferred to see that done now, but I recognize that the number at present involved is extremely small and as the Prime Minister has told us, that he is going to deal with that matter next year, we can possess ourselves in patience until then. There is one other thing I may mention. I see that all the provisions of the Union electoral law are to apply as regards the method of conducting elections, illegal practices and so forth, and I must say I think it is a little hard on the people to start their new constitution with having to observe some of the electoral provisions now before this House. But that is only a small point. I entirely agree with the main proposition put forward by the Prime Minister, that the time has arrived when further powers of self-government should be given to the people, and I entirely agree also with his theory as to the rights of this Parliament in the matter. I assume that reports have to be made to the League of Nations, and possibly, in due course, we may hear what the League of Nations think of the powers now to be given. I cannot conceive, although there may be differences as to the machinery proposed, that there can be any serious objection on the part of the League of Nations, but I feel sure, from the experience I have had personally, that a system such as I have outlined would work more smoothly, and would certainly work more cheaply than the system proposed in this Bill.
I am very glad indeed that the Prime Minister has brought forward this Bill as an instalment at least of what we may expect in regard to South-West Africa. One learnt with regret, with the leader of the Opposition, that it is rather too restricted in its scope. I think we would err on the right side if we trusted our future co-partners to a greater extent than we have done in this Bill. Personally, I appreciate greatly the remarks, the generous remarks, of the leader of the Opposition as to the Germans in the Union. This country owes a great deal to the leader of the Opposition for the great work he did with regard to the mandate for the South-West territory, and I think it is only right to acknowledge our indebtedness to the right hon. gentleman for his work overseas in that connection. One would like to take this opportunity of testifying to the value of the co-operation of the Germans in the Cape Province during the whole of the time they have been associated with us from the close of the Crimean war. The old “German legion,” and later the German immigrants, settled in Kaffraria, subsequently included in the Cape. A large part of my life has been spent amongst these people, and more thorough South Africans there could not be. In every respect they have taken part in the building up of this country, and borne their fair share in all its difficulties. I need only remind this House of one whose name was intimately connected with them, who was a Minister of the Crown, and who bore a great reputation in Parliament and in this country. I refer to the late Col. Schermbrucker. He was proud of his German descent and was also heart and soul for South Africa. Few citizens have done greater work or played a nobler part in the history of South Africa than he. This measure of self-Government to the mandated protectorate brings to my mind what we went through in the Transvaal when fighting for responsible government. I remember one particular night, when friends had fallen away from us, and the difficulties were very great, the question came up—
It was debated among ourselves, and we put, it this way: There were only two ways of ruling a country—by coercion, or by frankly admitting into full partnership; it is impossible to coerce this great country, and the only possible way is to go to the Boers and say—
That principle of full trust and reciprocity has worked out well, and to-day we are a united people in the Union of South Africa. I regret we have not done that with our friends in the South-West; but to-day this is a considerable step forward. It has been mentioned by the right hon. leader of the Opposition that the people there may choose that they would rather not work in the Union with us. I do not think they have the same liberty of action as we had to decide, but their aspirations and wishes, whatever they may be, will have to be recognized in this free, democratic country, therefore, it is for us to show the utmost goodwill. But why did Rhodesia stay out of the Union? It stayed out because the people there said: “If we are to be treated as the provincial councils have been treated in the Union then we have no wish to join.” If we go on in our unwise actions towards the provincial councils as we have done, curtailing their powers; and if they are to be bullied as they have been in the past; if they are to be denied the power of borrowing on their own credit; if they are still to be jeered at and urged on the one hand to do more for hospitals, roads and bridges, and education, while at the same time every opportunity is taken of further limiting their powers, then South-West Africa would be wise not to come into the Union. It is no use thinking that German West is coming in if we are going on in the way we have in the past in refusing to allow provincial liberty of action. There is no good reason why German West should not come into the Union and be happy, but if we are going to encourage these people to come in let us treat provincial councils rightly. I am perfectly certain if they are met in that way the Germans will work as happily with us as the Dutch have done, and to our mutual advantage.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into committee on Wednesday.
Second Order read: Third reading,—Electoral Act, 1918, Amendment Bill.
Before this Bill is read a third time, I should like to say that, to my mind, the Bill has been pushed through in a hurry and with a persistence which I think is unworthy of the important subject which it contains. There is no particular or urgent demand on the part of the country in regard to this Bill. Only a few years ago Parliament grappled with this important subject, and a law was then put on the statute book which up to the present has certainly, on its main principles, satisfied public opinion, and I do not think that anybody could complain that the provisions of the existing law are not stringent enough in the way of preventing corruption at elections. There is no doubt that the present law is one of the utmost stringency. This has adequately been proved by the trial cases which have come under review since the last election, on election petitions, before the Supreme Court. I do not think any of my friends opposite can complain that the judges who adjudicated on these cases did not take a strict judicial view of the law as it stands, and we must conclude, after reviewing these trials, that humanly speaking everything possible practically has been done to prevent corrupt practices at elections and, as the law now stands, I think practice has proved that there is not much scope for corrupt practices at elections. Let me remind my hon. friends over there who always, in this regard, cast sneers at hon. members sitting on this side of the House, that that law of 1918 was passed when the South African party was in power, and it is always insinuated that the party on this side of the House are not anxious to prevent corrupt practices at elections. What we feel is that the Minister should have allowed this Bill to stand over for another session, when he should have brought in a consolidating law. What is the position now? The public, the courts, the lawyers, the Minister’s own department, will have in the future to flounder about among different statutes dealing with the most technical and difficult points of law, perhaps, in connection with any part of our public administration. The Minister of Finance has certainly given the Minister of the Interior a good lead in regard to the income tax Bill, in bringing in a consolidating law, and the implications of the income tax law are not to be compared in technicality and difficulty, with the difficulties involved in an electoral Bill. The position is that this measure before Parliament now only in one particular brings forward a real measure of reform and that is in regard to voting by post. That reform, I think, is generally welcomed by the public; but it is also a very intricate system, and naturally had to be hedged about with a great many conditions and rules. I only hope these rules will be sufficient to prevent the perpetration of fraud in our country which is, of course, very peculiarly circumstanced, and I hope these rules will prevent such fraud as may take place in a complicated system of voting by post. At the same time I think the country is prepared to give this innovation a fair trial. That. I think, is the only reform contained in this Bill which extends the rights of the public. All the other conditions tend to curtail public rights. You have, in the first place, the provision dealing with the press. I do not wish to repeat all the arguments which have been brought forward on this subject; but if ever an attempt has been made to curtail public rights and place on the statute book an illiberal provision, then I say this provision in regard to the curtailment of the rights of the press is such an illiberal provision. You cannot curtail the rights of the press without curtailing the rights of the public. The public rights are synonymous with the rights of the press. At present, as I pointed out the other night, the press and the citizen have the same rights and the same freedom of speech. They can write and say what they like. They are subject to the common law of the land, and they are restricted by the common law. Now the Minister steps in and says in future this common law shall be considered insufficient and special provision is now to be made for the curtailment of the press’s rights. By laying down that illiberal provision, do hon. members realize that they also curtail materially the public rights? The other night, in speaking in Afrikaans, I tried to explain that by making this provision legal, no person in future—he may be labouring under the greatest disadvantage at a time of election, may be labouring under grievances that ought to be remedied and that ought to be brought to public notice—can bring such to notice unless he signs his name. Is it fair? We know how our different industries are constituted. Is it fair that when a person labours under a real grievance he and his fellow workers are debarred from, in a sensible, quiet, statesmanlike manner, from stating their views through the newspapers in an anonymous capacity. In future this class of people will be debarred from submitting to the electorate the genuine grievances under which they labour. What did the Minister bring forward in defence of this provision? He actually suggested that the provision could be avoided by people who wished to express their opinions on electoral matters, by getting tools or dupes to sign their letters to the press.
Nothing of the sort.
Does the Minister deny it?
Yes, I do.
It is very peculiar, for the Minister has been charged several times with making that statement, and this is his first repudiation.
Do you expect us to repudiate all these falsehoods?
If it is correct that the Minister stated that a person desiring to express his views could ask other people to sign the statement or letter—
Where did I state that?
In this House.
Is it in Hansard?
If this statement is correct—
—the Minister, who always wishes to pose as a great political purist, is now laying down a doctrine which will lead to the greatest corruption and bribery. If this law is going to form part of our statutes it will be a blemish on our Parliamentary law, and the Minister and his party will live to regret the measure they are now forcing on the country. There is another point where the rights of the voters are being curtailed, and here I speak on behalf of the Cape Province. A person residing in the Cape Province can claim to be registered either on an occupational or salary basis. He can claim to be registered where he earns his salary, but the Bill says that in future voters shall exercise the franchise only in the constituency in which they reside. This is another socialistic doctrine, and is a curtailment of the rights of voters.
Why did you vote for it in the select committee?
He did not vote for it.
I did not vote for it. Under section 3 of the Act of 1899, it seems to me clear that it is compulsory for a man to vote in the constituency in which he earns his salary. A man may earn his salary in the Gardens, but live, say, in the Hanover Street constituency. His residence does not qualify him to become a voter, and his only right to being on the roll is by virtue of the salary earned in the Gardens, but the Minister will force him to vote upon an occupational right, under which the law does not give him the right to vote. This Bill does not deal with the qualification of voters, and it is a question whether this provision is covered by the title, which purports only to amend the Electoral Act of 1918. Hansard has just been placed in my hand. The Minister denied my allegation that he suggested a way out of the difficulty.
That is quite another thing.
This is what the Minister said—
What is wrong with that?
Do you still stand by it?
I must say my regard for the lofty ideals of the Minister of the Interior has entirely gone. That is my comment on the Minister’s conduct. Then there is another point where the law also encroaches on the rights of the public. That is in regard to the provision that in future no political organization may do philanthropic work, and no philanthropic association may do political work. How are you going to carry it out? Will the Minister define what is meant by a political or philanthropic association? I ask what is the good of putting these provisions on the statute book when they mean nothing, when you cannot carry them out in practice. Take the temperance party—the Temperance Alliance. Are they a political organization or are they not? If they are then in future they will not be able to do any philanthropic work.
They do not do it now. It is not a philanthropic society by any means.
Take the case of the Nationalist women’s organization or the South African party women’s party. I can speak for the women’s party in the Caledon constituency. The constitution of this organization makes provision that they can do philanthropic work. I know they do a great deal of good educational work. Several poor children have been taught by means of this organization. They do a great deal when there are poor people ill. I know of a case where a coloured family is stricken by typhoid fever and pauper relief from the Government could not be obtained, but the municipality and the women’s organization stepped in and helped these people in their need. In future, by this illiberal law, you are going to make an attempt to kill a good and noble work. Does the Minister always look at these things from his party point of view? Is there to be no feeling of philanthropy in public life. They would not go on doing it if this law is passed because they would be liable to a £500 fine. I repeat that this law, with the exception of the provision made for voting through the post, is a curtailment of the existing right of the people, and there are many provisions apart from that which the Minister and his party and this House will regret once they are placed on the statute book.
I apologize if I take up the time of the House for a few minutes to make a personal explanation. During this discussion the hon. member for Vredefort (Mr. Munnik), I am sorry to see, is not in the House, said that the hon. member for Kimberley and myself owed our seats in this House to the activities of the De Beers Company in registering a large number of native labourers in the compounds. There are no native compounds in Kimberley. There are two native compounds in my constituency having between five and six thousand natives. The hon. member was emphatic in his statements, so emphatic that I felt rather nervous in refuting the statement, but I did make a qualified denial. The hon. member for Vredefort subsequently appealed to the Minister of the Interior for him to verify his statement with regard to the wholesale registration of natives in the De Beers’ compound. The Minister, wise in his day, remained perfectly mute. I am not acquainted with all the little details connected with a big concern like De Beers, and I sent to Kimberley for the voters’ roll, and I find in my constituency there are only 133 registered native voters.
How many coloured?
The hon. member contested the Beaconsfield seat and ought to know. He lived there for some months and threatened that if he won the seat he would live there permanently. That lost him hundreds of votes. I sent for the voters’ roll and went through it three times, and I procured the services of another gentleman to go through it also three times. Can any hon. member understand a man making a statement of that kind with so little sense of responsibility as to say that De Beers made it part of their business to register a large number of natives on then compound? There is only one native registered voter in the whole of the De Beers’ compounds. Here is the voters’ roll, and I am prepared to hand the list to the whips on the other side.
Is it a new one?
I will hand it over to any hon. gentleman on that side, and they can judge who is telling the truth, the hon. member for Vredefort (Mr. Munnik) or myself. It is the voters’ roll for 1923. on which the hon. member for Vredefort and myself fought the election together.
How many native voters are there on the register?
I said there are 133 native voters registered in the whole division, and the hon. member for Vredefort got some of those votes because he sent his emissaries into the location, and he advertised to address native meetings. I am dealing with a statement of the hon. member for Vredefort, who came and deceived this House—
The hon. member must not use that expression.
Is it unparliamentary?
It is unparliamentary.
Then I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker. He made an absolutely incorrect statement.
I should not like this Bill to pass its third reading without expressing an opinion on it, or one part of it in the form which it has now assumed. We did not divide the House on the second reading, because there was a good deal in this Bill which we liked. A good deal of this Bill was taken from the report of the select committee of some years ago which was considered proper improvements and amendments to be introduced into the electoral system of this country. The Government has however, seen fit, in addition to these very proper and salutary amendments, to make a number of other alterations which have transformed the character of this Bill and made it, if it is passed in its present form, a blot on our statute book. We have noted the statement which has been made by some leading members of the Labour party that if this Bill passes it will mean so many seats to the Labour party. That is the view taken of this Bill—not that it is an electoral reform, not that it is going to make necessary amendments in the law, but that it is going to mean more power to one political party in this country.
Interjected a remark.
I do not know whether the hon. member likes that, whether he takes a pleasure in seeing the Labour party taking seats from us, but during this session we have seen the Government, the National party, doing whatever it can in order to strengthen the position of the Labour party, and this Bill is one of those measures, the effect of which, will be not to affect the position of the two major parties in this country, but to strengthen the position of the Labour party. That seems, from the calculations which have been made, to be going to be the effect of this Bill. Many plans go wrong. I have seen too much of the Labour party in this country to anticipate that their expectations will be fulfilled in this respect. My principal objection to this Bill is on Clause 44, which, in my opinion, is not germane to this Bill at all, and is a real blot on this Bill. Clause 44, I consider a slur on the press of this country, and it is an undeserved slur, entirely undeserved. I think anybody, who has to follow the activities of our newspaper press in South Africa, feels that our press is a credit to this country. Both the Dutch and English press, on the whole, is a credit to this country—not always, of course not—but if hon. members compare the press in South Africa, as I often have to do, with the newspapers of other countries, they will be astonished at the standard which is maintained by the press of South Africa, and I say that the reflection which this Bill casts on the press of South Africa is absolutely undeserved and what to me is all the more inexplicable, is that this should come from a Minister who is, himself, a past editor of one of our foremost papers in South Africa. I feel that in passing this provision, this entirely unprecedented provision, we are making a reflection not only on the press of this country, but we are making a reflection on this country and on the Parliament of this country. Parliament is making itself ludicrous by passing a provision of this kind. I think the Minister of the Interior must be suffering from some obtuseness if he cannot see what an insult a measure like this is to the press of this country, which we are asked to pass in the face of the most conclusive evidence and the most unanimous evidence ever given in select committee in this House. The hon. Minister has chosen to pit Parliament against the press of this country, to pit Parliament against public opinion, as represented by the press, and hon. members opposite will find out that in this battle which has been started by the hon. Minister, an expeditor of the press in South Africa, they are going to be worsted. This blot will disappear from our statute book in not many years, and it will only remain as a blot on the political memory of the Minister of the Interior. That will be the only effect of it. It is entirely reactionary, entirely unprecedented. With regard to the point which was raised by the hon. member for Caledon—
I will explain that just now.
Yes, it requires a lot of explaining. When a person does not want to use his name in any communication, in stating any facts to the press, the Minister has advised him now as to the course which he should follow—he should fake somebody else’s name—and the Minister has the moral obtuseness not to see what a shameful suggestion that is to make.
Don’t excite yourself.
The hon. member seems to be unable to appreciate what is charged against him, and I want to bring it home to him. It is inexplicable to me how a provision like this can be put into an act, and the Minister actually indicates how it can be evaded, and advises it.
That is not true.
The Minister has placed himself in an impossible position; he has outraged the sense of decency which we should have in this country as a Legislature.
The hon. member (Gen. Smuts) must moderate his language.
Perhaps I have gone rather far. Perhaps I should not go as far as that. My feelings are very strong on this, because, after all, we have a standard in the public life of this country, and what I say is that the Minister, who is an educated man, and who knows better, is lowering that standard and he is making other countries, which are less advanced than ourselves, point the finger of scorn at this country—
Where are they pointing the finger of scorn?
Has the hon. member heard of an “obscure rag” called the “Manchester Guardian”?
You said “smaller countries” than ours. I thought England was bigger.
Don’t let us lower the standards in this country. If I thought this clause was going to do any good whatever, something might be said for it, but it is going to do no good whatever. It is going to be a sheer obstruction and trouble to every newspaper editor in this country. It is going to be a nuisance to the editor of every newspaper. It is only going to do mischief, it is only going to lead to evasion, and it is only going to sap the moral foundations of public opinion in this country. People will be for ever trying to evade this and trying to fake names in the communications they make to the press. I think we are making a very great mistake. This clause will not stand. No Parliament, no civilized Parliament, on earth has passed a clause like this. The Minister simply declasses himself by putting a clause like this in the Bill. Tire press is doing its best to guide public opinion. Of course, outrageous things are said. No man in this country has suffered more at the hands of the press’ than I have. Do not let us be upset by public criticism, even if the criticism is extreme, and is virulent, and is incorrect and untruthful. They say: Let them say freedom will pay this country, the education of this country, the leading of public opinion along right lines, far better than the leading-strings in which the autocratic habits of the Minister are going to place us. Let us have freedom. No doubt it will some times be abused and degenerate into licence, but even that is better than this sort of insult which is hurled at the press and public opinion in this country. At the second reading, I would not have believed it possible that the Minister would persist in this course. I knew when he went to select committee that the evidence would be damning. His own paper, which he has built up, came forward and gave damning evidence against this clause. It is an unworkable, impossible and insulting clause, which we are putting into this Bill. If other parts of the Bill may secure the Labour party some votes and some seats, I wish them joy; but here, in this clause, is a slur cast on the country, on the press of the country, and on public opinion. I regret profoundly the step we are taking now, and I hope this blot will not long continue to exist on the statute book of this country.
I find it very amusing to see the right hon. the leader of the Opposition taking up the cudgels on the part of the press to-day, and especially a certain class of the press. When I think back to the years 1906 and 1907. when he did his best to get me into political life, and I think of all the gross misrepresentations of the capitalistic press of that time, then I feel very much amused. What was the attitude of the right hon. gentleman then? He knows what he suffered, what our party in 1906-7, and subsequent years, suffered at the hands of the capitalistic press.
We do not muzzle the press.
To-day he is pleading for, and extremely concerned on behalf of that same press. 1s he not well aware that that same class of press is in existence to-day, and has been more thoroughly organized than ever before against the permanent interests of the bulk of the people of this country? I want to deal with two points, and briefly; one is with the right hon. member as regards the press, and the other point is the Pact. This is what he said as regards Pacts on the 26th of January, 1907, as reported in the “Star,” which I take it would not misrepresent him—
In February, 1907, he practically said this—
Now I come to the press. What did his own leader, Gen. Botha, say in February. 1907. at Clifton at a meeting at which he supported the hon. member for Pretoria (West). He said—
Now I come to the right hon. gentleman’s own words as regards the press. On February 13th, 1907, speaking in the Caledonian Hall. Johannesburg, he was reported by the “Transvaal Critic” as follows—
A supporter of his at that time, Mr. Harry Soloman, said—
Mr. L. E. Neame, who used to be editor of a prominent Johannesburg paper, in the “Daily Mail” on August 24th, 1910, referring to the first Union election campaign which was being carried on, said—
In conclusion, I repeat that the speeches of the right hon. member, on behalf of the press, are indeed amusing. My experience of the press, ever since the time that, with the right hon. gentleman, I entered political life, has been that there is misrepresentation, gross misrepresentation, and I never correct anything in the press. The hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) twitted my hon. friend, the Minister of the Interior, for not denying what has been repeated by the press lately". I never take the trouble to deny it, because I have an utter contempt for the misrepresentations of the press—
This is Hansard.
Which, together with the right hon. gentleman, I have known since the early days on the Rand. They are tainted at the very source. They represent big money in this country, and big interests, and if not, they are servile, and I therefore take no notice either of their press or condemnations, much less of their inaccuracies and misrepresentations. The best thing is to treat them with the contempt they deserve. I am surprised that the right hon. gentleman, in spite of what he has said in the past, in spite of the experience he has had, should have the effrontery and hardihood today, to take up the cudgels on behalf of the press.
I have listened with great interest to this excursion into our past history, but I fail to see what exact bearing it has on the matter now under discussion, and on the speech just delivered by my right hon. friend here. It absolutely bears out what the right hon. gentleman has just said, that although he had suffered much from the press, although he realized that the press was guilty occasionally of misrepresentation and misstatement—
That was his opinion in 1907.
Perhaps he expressed it more strongly then than now, but what he said now was that granting all that, this is the worst possible way to meet it. It is interesting to me to hear what the Minister said, because it seems to me to let the “cat out of the bag.” I understood that this was an electoral Bill, and that these provisions were put into the Bill in order to safeguard purity at elections, and to enable the people to judge on matters for themselves as far as possible, with an open, unbiassed mind, but from the speech just made by the Minister of Mines, and the speech we heard the other night from the Minister of Labour, it is quite clear that there is something else in the wind, and that tins is the first step in a vendetta against the press, which happens to take a different view from that—
It applies to all sections of the press.
Yes, but when we press the other side for the meaning of it, they get up and deliver a violent tirade against the press which supports this side of the House. We do not hear anything of the misrepresentations of the press which supports the Labour party, or the Nationalist party.
They never misrepresent.
I try to look at the matter as an impartial critic.
I can only try, and I might succeed as well as the hon. member over there. I say the press that supports the Labour party is more constantly and more inveterately distinguished by its misrepresentation of its opponents than any other, it cannot believe that anyone can disagree with their point of view, unless he is capitalist or a hireling of the capitalists. Take up any of their papers, and you find that view daily or weekly dinned into the ears of the people.
You know the enormous influences of the capitalist press.
I am trying to explain that this misrepresentation is not confined to what he calls the capitalist press. It is carried on by all sections of the press in a greater or a less degree. Politics tend to develop, when controversy becomes acute, into misrepresentation to a greater or less extent, but the point made by my right hon. friend is the real point, and that is, that if you want to have truly democratic politics, true freedom on the part of the people in judging for themselves political issues, you cannot get it by muzzling their press. You must let them learn for themselves.
In what way is the press muzzled?
I leave the hon. member to read the Bill again and try to judge for himself. I will say this to meet the hon. member’s point, that the real danger of these provisions, to my mind, is not so much what they contain, as the index they give of something more to come. We have it from the Minister of Labour, and the Minister of Justice, that this Government is going to “clip the wings” of the press, and I say that these provisions—largely futile in themselves—bring us as a Parliament, and the Government that brought it forward, into contempt, to my mind; but the real danger is through the first step. We have seen in other countries a complete muzzling of the press in the interests of the party in power, that wants to remain in power. Look at Russia. The party that holds power, in the name of the people, insists upon unanimity of opinion and expression of opinion by the rifle and the scaffold. No press can appear unless it expresses the view of the Communist party.
Surely you do not mean that?
If my hon. friend does not believe that, let him go to Russia and try to start a paper—
It has been done.
—on lines opposed to the Communist point of view. We find there developed to a larger extent the same principle as we find here in the Labour party papers I have referred to. They consider that anyone who differs from them does so owing to corrupt practice, and should be put down with a firm hand, and you will see that, to a great extent, taking its beginning from the clauses we have even in this Bill. I prefer an older and different kind of freedom than this. I prefer the idea that no man, and no party, is exempt from making mistakes. Nobody is infallible, and nobody is a good judge in his own cause, and it is best to suffer from mistakes and learn something from them. Let people read the misrepresentations in the press, and learn to distinguish misrepresentation from what is sound and genuine argument. Truth is nobody’s monopoly, and we learn to arrive at what is true by somewhat difficult steps. Do not let us attempt to measure liberty by our own footrule and then insist on our neighbour accepting our foot-rule as his measure. The provision of the Bill I regard as largely futile, but it is defended by the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Mines, who show that they are out to carry on a bitter vendetta against a certain section of the press, because they say it has in the past misrepresented their position, and held them up to the contempt of the people. Because it has done that they are out to clip the wings of the press, and to get then own back from the so-called “capitalist” press. That is the great danger which is threatening the country, and if the views expressed by responsible Ministers are allowed to have then way, a very great blow is going to be dealt at the freedom of the country and its political development. This endeavour to clip the wings of the press is an attempt to foist on the people views held by only one section of the people, but which they insist should be held by the other section. The only cure for our political troubles is free discussion. We have to work a way out, and we shall be the worse off if we are forced to accept cut and dried opinion.
The hon. member says the clauses are futile, and do not interfere with the liberty of the press, but the hon. member for Standerton (Gem Smuts) says they do interfere with the liberty of the press. My opinion is that if this Bill becomes law everything which appears in the press to-day can appear to-morrow—the leading articles, the reports, and the letters can be the same.
What is the use of it then?
I am dealing with the liberty of the press. The great cry of the South African party is that the Pact is turning its back on the liberty of the press. But the press is not muzzled at’ all under the Bill. The “Cape Times” or “Die Burger” can write exactly the same articles. We are told that the newspapers will not be able to carry the law out, but the other day the “Argus” published a report of Parliament showing what would happen if the Bill goes through. They placed in the report the names of the reporters, but I can give them a better idea. Why not have a number for every reporter and in a panel they can give the names of the reporters with their different numbers? For instance No. 1 would signify “John Jones.”
Then the newspapers would be run in under the Bill.
As a reader of newspapers, I found this issue of the “Argus,” which contained the names of the reporters, most interesting, and nothing will sell it better. One saw a long report, and the names of Mr. Levi and everyone else who had a share in its preparation, and everyone enjoyed it.
Enjoyed the joke.
If the leading articles in the “Cape Times” had to be signed every day “B. K. Long.” is that curtailing the liberty of the press? The better class of articles in the English press are signed now, but the Bill will stop the “Cape Argus,” the “Cape Times,” the “Star” and other papers having that sort of power which the ordinary man does not understand. The man in the street says—
Those newspapers are controlled nine-tenths by the Corner House and the big capitalists, who have more power through their newspapers than they should have. If Sir Lionel Phillips made a speech people say—
but if one of the newspapers say it, people say, for instance, it is the “Cape Times,” It is not fair, and the elections are not pure. If Mr. Long signed his leaders, and if people saw morning after morning leaders signed “B. K. Long,” they would take no notice of them whatever, because they know that Mr. Long is a strong member of the South African party. My hon. friend, the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), writes leading articles for the “Star,” and very good ones, too.
I am sorry they are not more frequent. But if we saw in a Johannesburg paper a temperance article signed “Leslie Blackwell,” we would scream with laughter.
Because we know his opinions on temperance. But when the “Star comes out with these articles,” it is a—
But if they saw at the bottom of an article the signature “D. Reitz,” they would go into hysterics.
Who is Robbie, M.L.A., in the “Nation”?
I do not know. In future “Robbie,” if he writes any leading articles, will have to sign his name. A great attack has been made on the Labour press, but the hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) signs every article he writes. There are only two members of the Labour party who write, and every article we sign, but you go behind a hedge and fire, and that is going to be stopped. The working journalists are not going to be interfered with. I admit the Bill is not going to get at the press as I should like. I would like to get at the men controlling the press for, unlike the old days, when certain people owned newspapers, to-day they are in the hands of syndicates. The “Argus” Company is buying up newspapers, and it is not for the good of South Africa, for the majority of the shareholders are big capitalists.
What about “Die Burger”?
I know nothing about “Die Burger except that the Minister issued a challenge the other day. We do know that the leading financiers of the Transvaal control the Argus Company, and they have seven newspapers, and we know they never “go” Labour. Upstairs, Mr. Long, in answer to a question I asked him, said he did not think it would make much difference if the articles are to be signed. Now we come to the letters. The hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) said it was not fair to a man who wants to write letters. Well, he has to sign his name for the editor now. At the present moment, if a man writes an anonymous letter, to the editor, the editor takes great care he signs his name. We are only doing now what the editor asks for. No man can have his letter published in a paper unless he signs his name. If a Labour man sends a letter to the “Cape Times” he must disclose his name to a South African party editor. Very well, let him disclose it to the world. There are very few anonymous letters written, and if a man feels strongly he will sign his name, and if he is afraid he had better leave it alone altogether. I would like to see the newspapers closed down altogether during the elections.
That will be the next step.
It will not be the next step.
I don’t say that for a moment.
And no literature at election times?
Yes, no literature, and free motor-cars for everybody. If I am fighting the hon. member for Standerton, instead of allowing him to have all the cars, I would have half and he would have half. I tried to get it in the Bill, but my hon. friend would not have it.
If a fancy candidate put up, or a freak candidate, would he have half?
Is any mail a freak candidate? I thought any citizen, according to our law had a right to become a candidate. Many freak candidates have started with ten votes, and eventually won the seat. They can stand if they can put up £50. That is another thing. I should like to see that £50 wiped out. It is all very well for the hon. member for East London to talk. He has the £50. Why should a poor man be stopped from standing for Parliament? It is all in the hands of the rich. Members of the Labour party find it extremely difficult some times to raise £50 to fight an election.
They can always get surety.
They cannot. This Bill is in the right direction, and the hon. member need not be afraid. I remember when I was a toad under his harrow, and I had to sign my name. The hon. member made me sign my name.
In the old Republican days.
We had to sign our names when the right hon. member was State Attorney of the Transvaal. He closed the “Star” down.
Yes, and I will give him chapter and verse. There are members sitting in the gallery to-day—I can see them out of the corner of my eye—who, if they could speak in this House, would tell you it is true.
What had I to do with it?
He was State Attorney of the Transvaal at the time. He sat behind Oom Paul and drafted the Bill.
It is all fiction and untrue.
It was not only at election time, but ordinary times. You couldn’t publish an article unless you signed it.
What date was the Bill passed?
The hon. member sitting on the back bench was one of those who passed it. It was in 1897 or 1898, just before the Boer war. You cannot bluff me on that, because I went through it. You had to sign your leading articles under that law. Not only sign the article, but he closed them down. The “Star” appeared for three days as the “Comet,” and’ the hon. member comes and says what a slur it is against the press, what a blot on the liberty of the public, and he did the same thing him-self.
But I did not.
The Government he was in did. The hon. member was the great mail behind the throne in those days. He was the very man who brought in the Bill.
No, I didn’t. It was before my time.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, is the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) in order in repeating a statement six times that the right hon. member for Standerton was responsible for putting this Act on the statute book in face of the right hon. gentleman’s denial, which he gave unequivocally?
It is the practice in this House to accept the word of another hon. gentleman.
If the light hon. member for Standerton got on his feet and withdrew it. I would accept it. I would not only accept it, but would apologize for it at once.
The hon. member interrupted me before. I finished. I was going to say if hon. members wish to contradict or deny what other members say, they should get up and say so. I cannot take notice of interjections.
Knowing the rules of the House. I never thought the hon. member denied it. The hon. member is an old friend, and I would never, for one moment, thrust his own words down his throat. I take it the hon. member had nothing to do with the Bill.
No, it happened before my time. I had nothing to do with it.
Then I accept it, but it does not alter my argument that the Bill was on the statute book of the Transvaal, and no hon. member took exception to it. The only people who took exception were the press at the time.
Has the Bill been rescinded?
The Bill was rescinded when we were blown into the British empire. That Bill may still be on the statute book for all know. All I say is this, that, as a working journalist and an old journalist, the press need not be afraid of this Bill. It is not meant to muzzle the press at all. I am not a man to attack the press, and I deprecate attacks on the press. This Bill will not make the slightest difference to the members of the press. They talk about having to insure then-lives. The newspaper man is like the old soldier he does not die, he fades away. This Bill is going to help a good deal. It is going to help to clear up the press. I can understand the evidence given upstairs by members of the press—they are a close corporation trying to protect themselves One way in which this Bill is going to help is in regard to the anonymous letter and the signing of the leading article, and that can be done very fairly without interfering with the newspapers and the men who are on the newspapers.
The Rationalists these days are a sadly henpecked party. We have had the first reading, the second reading, the committee stage, the report stage and now we have the third reading of this Bill, and so far we have succeeded in flushing one solitary Nationalists to his feet, and even he had nothing to say in its favour. He merely referred to ancient history and made a sort of attack on the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts). It seems to me that we can afford to ignore the Nationalist members in this matter. Mrs. Caudle, in the form of the Labour party, has read them so many curtain lectures of late that they are cowed. They seem to have abdicated their functions as a legislative body. I am not concerned about the effect of this Bill, because I think the Bill will be stillborn, that it will be a dead letter from the very start. It is not the effect of the Bill so much that concerns me as the spirit of despotism and intolerance that lies behind it. This clause is the culminating point of a long series of repressive legislation that we have dealt with during the present session. We have had the Diamond Control Bill, the minimum wage, the colour bar the tariff clauses and now, as the culminating point, we have got this Bill. It shows the despotic instinct behind it all. We all know that it is a Labour Bill. We know that Labour has always been despotic. Their idea of liberty is licence for themselves and a muzzle for everyone else. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the whole trend of legislation that we have had during the present session. I would like to read to the House what powers Ministers will have by the time all the legislation at present on the Order Paper has become law. In the first place, a Minister will be able to dragoon—a solitary Minister without responsibility, arbitrarily, will be able, first, to dragoon every native in South Africa into servitude.
What has this to do with the Electoral Bill?
This is the culmination of a series of despotic legislation. First, a single Minister can dragoon every native without responsibility to anyone; second, a solitary Minister can bludgeon every industry in this country without responsibility to anyone; third, a solitary Minister can bludgeon every worker and employer in the Union; fourth, a single Minister can break any mine by interfering with its rights; fifth, a single Minister will be able to declare martial law and call up on active service any citizen; six a single Minister can call up, in any dispute, every citizen in South Africa on his sole authority—
You did that without any law.
No, we came to Parliament every time.
The hon. member cannot discuss that.
I am sorry, sir. Number seven, a single Minister can harass every public official in this country; number eight, a Minister wishes to take power to prosecute all his enemies and release his friends; number nine, powers to harass the police; number ten, power to interfere with political parties; number eleven, power to interfere with philanthropic societies. The list is endless.
Does the hon. member wish to insinuate that Ministers are going to do all this?
Then the hon. member must withdraw all the expressions “bludgeoning and harassing” the services of the State, and so on.
I withdraw the implication that they are going to do it, but, I will leave it to the House to say what these Bills are brought forward for. I withdraw “bludgeoning.”
Does the hon. member withdraw what he has said, that he insinuates that the Ministers concerned are likely to use these powers in the way he has intimated?
I withdraw every insinuation as to what Ministers are going to do; but I repeat that these are Bills now on the Order Paper, and it is obvious that Ministers intend enforcing these widespread infringements of the liberty of the subject which I have indicated. I do feel very strongly that all this Labour legislation before the House now is simply one example after another of a curtailment of the rights of the subject; and they are all forced upon this House in the teeth of public opposition against a mute Nationalist party, all-night sittings, and so on. I think it is time the public took note of the whole thing. I have made out a list of the new crimes that will have come into being when this despotic legislation has gone through. It is not at all an exhaustive list, but thanks to the Pact Government, which at one time used to talk about liberty, I find these Bills on the Order Paper contain no fewer than 398 brand-new offences. I suppose that is why the Minister of Justice is having this gaol delivery—clearing the gaols for next year’s crop. In going through these Bills, I find 398 new offences, and fines involving millions of pounds. I ask this House where we are going with this sort of thing? I ask the country what they think of this trend of the Pact Government which spoke of liberty?
Interjected a remark.
The hon. member for Riversdale (Mr. Badenhorst) has just interrupted.
He has not read the Bill.
I am afraid even if he did read it he would not understand it.
The hon. member must withdraw that.
I withdraw. But I do think that the liberties of the public the liberties of the individual, are being frittered away, curtailed, and infringed by this Labour Government. Hon. members of the Nationalist party started this session in the belief that it was a Nationalist party Government which was ruling the country, but it is a Labour party Government that we are saddled with. I am quite sure that the public will not think that these are good laws. I hope at this eleventh hour the Minister will tell us why this clause has been foisted on the country.
You have got to the Bill at last.
There is not a word I have stated that is not germane to the Bill, but I wish the Minister would say something germane to the Bill. Up to now he has wrapped himself in silence and not replied to any queries or criticism levelled against him. Even in the select committee he never said a word or asked a single question of a witness.
That is not true.
Well, if I am wrong, I will modify my statement. But I would be glad if the hon. member would show me where he interrogated a witness.
He was chairman.
That does not prove that he asked questions; I cannot find that he queried any statement in regard to this clause by the witnesses. It is a queer commentary on the Minister’s attitude that as chairman of the select committee, listening to all this strong criticism against the Bill, he has not a word to say, and in the House he is equally silent. We have heard a lot from the Labour members, but not from the Minister or the Nationalist members. I hope the Minister will realize that this clause has no support and will withdraw it.
I can understand the groans from the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden), because the agony of silence under which he is obliged to remain is going to continue a little longer. I should like to awaken the Minister from the gloom which has settled on him, and ask him if he recognizes the quite flattering portrait of himself which appeared in “Die Burger” on July 4th? In this cartoon he is depicted as being thrown to the ground by the reactions of his own Bill and piteously appealing for sympathy with his hand upraised. We were told by the Minister that “Die Burger” does not object to the Bill. However, it not only objects by words, but gives him a picture of its objections in order to make them more emphatic.
The hon. member cannot refer to what appears in the papers in regard to current events.
The cartoon does not refer to the debate, but to the effect of the Bill.
That refers to the debates —the general structure of the Bill, I take it.
I bow to your ruling, sir. I now come to the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow). In the course of the debate on the second reading of this Bill he said—
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) is the most variously misinformed gentleman in this House—guaranteed to put you wrong on anything.
I understood that if an hon. member withdraws a statement it was not referred to again. I not only withdrew, but expressed my regret to the right hon. member for Standerton. One would expect from one gentleman to the other that that would be the end of it.
I am not referring to the hon. member’s remarks of this afternoon which he withdrew. I intend to refer to the hon. gentleman’s speech on the second reading of this Bill, and to his attitude towards evidence that was brought before him in committee. On page 67 of the evidence—
What is the use of discussing a thing the hon. member has withdrawn?
I understand the hon. member has withdrawn the offensive remark he made this afternoon against the right hon. member for Standerton, but had you permitted me I should have disproved that the right hon. leader of the Opposition had anything to do with the passing of the Transvaal press law. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) must admit that he had abundant evidence in select committee to prove that it was not necessary to sign articles in the Transvaal during an election, yet he still continues to say that this was insisted on. He said the Transvaal press law came into force in 1897, but it is clear from page 67 of the evidence before the select committee that a file of the “Rand Post’ of 1898 was produced. The papers produced were published when an election was proceeding, and examination failed to show that there was a single signed article among those published, and I believe the Hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) was made aware of that circumstance.
He was not.
The hon. member stated in an interjection this afternoon that the press on his side of the House never misrepresented. His comrade-in-arms, the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn), however, has in his time completely contradicted that statement, for the hon. member last year broadcasted throughout the press a signed statement in which he said—
The hon. member asks whether this was signed. Yes, it was signed twice, once as George Reyburn, writer of the libel, and once as editor of the “Guardian.”
He is not the only newspaper man who has ever had to apologize for a libel.
Now we come to a little more misrepresentation of a more cruel kind. An “open letter to Gen. Smuts,” signed by Thomas Boydell and published in the “Guardian” at election time, in which, if ever a man accused another of being a murderer—and he signed this when he was not a member of this House—if ever a man accused another of being a murderer, Mr. Boydell accused the hon. member for Standerton of being a murderer in very deed.
Was it signed?
It was signed, and the signing of these articles will make no difference to men who make such shameless statements as these. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) stated this afternoon that the evidence before the select committee contained a statement that Mr. B. K. Long, editor of the “Cape Times,” had no objection to the signing of articles.
“No great objection.”
I give the hon. member time to find such a statement and point it out to me. It is in line with the kind of statement he makes and which passes as good enough. We have been accused by the Minister of Railways, in fact he twitted us on this side of the House, of being closely connected with the press. He was oblivious of the fact that there were more members on that side connected with the press than on this. The hon. member for Barkly (Mr. W. B. de Villiers) has no insignificant connection with “Die Burger.” being managing director of the J. C. Marais Trust, which has a large control in “Die Burger”; the hon. member for Troyeville is acknowledged as the high priest of that wonderful production, “Forward,” in Johannesburg”: the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) has a mysterious connection with the “People’s ‘Weekly,” or had at one time; the “South African Review’ is edited by a member of the provincial council who represents the Labour interest there; the “Guardian.” I believe, has some connection with the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, and we know it is edited by the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn).
It is not edited by him.
Whilst he is on more important duties his locum tenens is in charge. I only hope for the sake of the reputation of a member of Parliament some of the unworthy stuff being published in that journal emanates from the locum tenens. When you find the publication of this sort of stuff—
issued by a journal connected with a Minister of the Crown, surely it is time we had a law to censor the sort of stuff issued by irresponsible people of that kind rather than to interfere with respectable journalists. We were told by the Minister of Defence that there should be a penalty for anyone having a controlling interest in more than one newspaper.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
When the House adjourned for the interval I was dealing with the question of the attitude of the press on the other side. Before completing my remarks on that subject, I should like to refer to the statement of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) with reference to Mr. Long’s evidence given before the select committee on the question of the signing of articles. The hon. member gave us to understand that Mr. Long had no objection to the signing of articles, but at the outset of his evidence he said—
That showed the purpose for which Mr. Long and those with him came before the committee. At a later stage he said—
Then he was cross-examined by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), and he said—
Then he goes on to say—
No great objection to the signing of leading articles.
On the contrary, we cannot tear away the context from Mr. Long’s evidence, which is preceded by the strongest objection to leading articles being signed. There is no doubt that in the main his evidence was distinctly against the signing of articles. I was dealing with the connection of the other side with the press. One might suppose that it is only this side of the House that is in any way connected with the press. As I have shown, the hon. member for Barkly (Mr. W. B. de Villiers), the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge). the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn), are all connected with the press, and at one time the Minister of Railways and Harbours had a great deal to do with the “Humansdorp Re-echo,” the “re-echo” apparently being necessary because it did not always “echo” faithfully.
You are more than an echo.
I will come now to some of the evidence dealing with misrepresentation by the Pact. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) said they did not misrepresent. Oh, dear, no. We have the evidence of Dr. Geyer, in which he says—
Mr. Long, in his evidence relates a rather diverting story of a member of the provincial council (Mr. Lomax), who telegraphed a report of a certain meeting of which he subsequently denied the correctness. He said he was surprised at Reuter’s report, but when in court in connection with an action for damages, he admitted sending it himself as Reuter’s report. This illustrates the hollowness of the unctuous cries from the other side that they do not misrepresent. Evidently it amounts to a perfect passion with this gentleman, who not only misrepresents, but contradicts his own misrepresentations, and so the merry work goes on. Amongst the people connected with the press on the other side. I think the hon. member for Kroonstad (Mr. Werth) cannot deny that for a considerable time he has been editing a paper, the “Volksblad,” while a member of this House.
What has all this to do with the clause of the Bill under discussion? The fact that hon. members are connected with the press does not affect this clause at all.
I am endeavouring to refute the accusation that press connections belong entirely to this side of the House, which seems to be the insinuation of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), and was actually stated to be so by the Minister of Railways recently. I am dealing with the connection with the press of hon. members on the other side.
The hon. member is going rather far afield in matters that have not a direct bearing on the clause.
I will be guided by you entirely in the matter. Dealing with the remark made by the Minister of Defence as to group control in which he assented to the doctrine of Mr. Spender, we come to group control on the other side. We find “Die Burger,” the “Nation.” the “Afrikaner,” and “Huisgenoot”—
I wish to point out that no question of group control is concerned in this clause.
I am merely dealing with an accusation on that subject by the Minister of Defence.
That was when the House was in committee. How does the hon. member bring that in connection with this clause?
In connection with this clause alternative remedies have been suggested for the treatment of the evils which are acknowledged to exist. That was one of the remedies which I understood was suggested by the Minister of Defence.
I think the Minister of Defence referred to it in passing. I do not think it ought to be discussed.
I bow to your ruling, sir. We have been told a great deal about the infinite amount of harm that has been done by false reports and reports which should be censored or which, in any case, should bear the signature of their author. In the course of this debate at the second reading the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) referred with a great deal of satisfaction to the return to the fold of Mr. W. H. Andrews. If an example were needed of the harmful kind of propaganda that Mr. Andrews has been engaged in for the last seven years, I shall be able to give one which would certainly be some justification for the censorship of such vapourings as Mr. Andrews, at various times, has been responsible for, rather than the present restrictions upon responsible journalism. Within the period since he has left this House, he has been engaged in propaganda having for its aim the building-up of a proletariat among the natives. On one occasion, to instance the length to which he has gone, he said—
It has been followed by many other declarations of the same kind. Whilst we are engaged in interfering with subjects that can be well left to the good sense and judgment of the public, we allow this sort of thing to be published, we allow the organ that the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs controls, or is identified with, to publish similar sort of stuff which is most injurious, and goes very much further to destroy the confidence in the press which should exist. The other day some hon. members on the other side ventured to doubt whether a statement, which I quoted in reference to what had been published in “Die Burger” at a time when the Minister of the Interior was the editor was correct, and I said I was prepared to prove it had been published. I am glad to note “Die Burger” has since acknowledged the statement was perfectly true, that on a certain occasion it published in its columns a statement that the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) was a lunatic, and that the country would suffer until he was confined in an asylum. We have also the statements by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs published at election time practically describing the light hon. member as a murderer, and yet these are among the Ministers who come forward proclaiming that it is the purity of journalism and public life that is aimed at by this clause. One can only conclude that their hero in romance must be Pecksniff, and they go near to bearing away their hero’s crown.
I do not propose to follow the hon. member who has just sat down in his irrelevancies beyond remarking that his whole case seems to have been based on the fact that in certain papers connected with this side statements may have been made from time to time with which he disagreed, and that some of these statements have had to be withdrawn. When that happens, anybody, who writes something that is libellous, is liable to pay damages under the ordinary law of the land, and nobody objects to that. I have information here to the effect that Mr. George Hills, leader of the Labour party in the Transvaal Provincial Council, has recently received £250 damages from the “Cape Argus” and the “Cape Times” for some wrongful statement they have made. They do not complain, and we do not complain if we have to do it. The object of the Bill has nothing to do with that. Therefore, all these arguments about putting in wrong or false statements in Labour or other papers has nothing whatever to do with the matter. The whole argument to which we have been subjected by the South African party side, and particularly this afternoon by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz)—which, by the bye, seems to be his sole stock in trade—is that, as the result of the Pact the poor Nationalists are sitting muzzled in this House between Labour Ministers. They dare not say a word. This is Labour legislation, and the Nationalists have to swallow it. This argument has become so stale that I do not think the hon. member believes in it himself, because only a couple of days ago, in connection with other legislation, we were told that the poor Labour people were muzzled, and had had to swallow Nationalist legislation. I do not know what the South African party would do if they did not have the Pact to provide them with arguments. As regards this Labour, socialistic legislation which the Nationalist members are supposed to be swallowing at the behest of the Labour party, it may surprise hon. members to know that we of the Labour party’ did not see the Bill until it appeared on the Order Paper, and Cabinet matters being secret, we did not even know whether it had been seen by the Labour Ministers before it was introduced, and here we are told that the only objection to this measure is that it is Labour legislation. If our friends objected to Labour legislation, or if the Bill really comprised serious Labour legislation. I could understand their argument. But it does nothing of the kind. I agree with the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) in the remarks he made this afternoon. I should like to have seen, apart from the press clause, provisions making voting compulsory and declaring polling day a public holiday. My hon. friend suggested that he would like to see motorcars at the disposal of all candidates. I am afraid that that is rather Utopian. I would rather see a provision prohibiting the use of vehicles, and compelling everybody to go to the poll to exercise the franchise that has been conferred on them. But none of these principles appear in the Bill; so I cannot see what objections the other side have to the Bill, except that they feel it their duty, as a matter of gratitude for favours received and still to be received, to take up the time of the House in a defence of the press, which could very well look after itself. That has been the whole argument. The press clause was the only one in respect of which we have listened to long tirades from the hon. members of the South African party. I only want to say, in connection with that clause, that early in the 19th century, Benjamin Disraeli declared that—
Everyone in this country, and everywhere else, accepts the position that what he said was true, and that it is not Parliament, but the press behind it, that frames public opinion. In some places it is perfectly true that they have taken steps against the press, but I would like to refer the House and the hon. member for Standerton to a statesman who, I am sure, is after his own heart. Mussolini. Mussolini has definitely introduced legislation to suppress the press, not to say that anyone who writes an article must put his name at the end of it, or that an editor shall have his name attached to the editorial article. He has recognized the truth of Disraeli’s statements, and as he wants his Parliament to remain in power, he has introduced legislation to do away with the press altogether, and judging from the past records of the hon. member for Standerton, I may say that there is no doubt that if legislation had been introduced on the lines of Mussolini, it would have been supported by him. In this press clause, in reality, we have taken over legislation for which, in spite of what took place this afternoon, I believe the right hon. member for Standerton was responsible. I noticed, with some surprise, that when the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) accused the right hon. member of having been responsible for a Bill in the old Transvaal Republican Parliament which dealt with some of these press clauses, and while hon. members shouted on him to withdraw, I noticed the hon. member for Standerton seemed rather hesitant about getting up and asking him to withdraw. Knowing the courage of the right hon. gentleman, it seemed strange that he seemed diffident about getting the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) to withdraw. Subsequently, he shouted something across to the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) who, with his usual chivalry, withdrew his statement. He withdrew the statement that the right hon. member for Standerton was responsible for it; but the actual facts are rather startling in view’ of the right hon. gentleman having allowed the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) to withdraw, when he must have known there was no cause to withdraw. I find that the law to which the hon. member for Bloemfontein North) referred, and which he, unfortunately, had not before him at the time or he would not have withdrawn, was gazetted on the 12th September, 1898.
When was the right hon. gentleman appointed State Attorney?
A State Attorney does not make laws.
The law was to amend law No. 26 of 1896. It was passed by resolution of the First Volksraad dated June 13th, 1898, and it was gazetted on September 12th, 1898. The law reads as follows—
But you never see the name and address of the responsible editor in any of your newspapers. The press clause in the Bill now before the House does not suggest that every morning when you read the “Cape Times” it should state that Mr. B. K. Long is the editor and is the man responsible, so that the public should know what amount of importance to attach to the leading articles. The Bill now before the House deals with election periods only, whereas the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) said—
The Transvaal law gazetted on the 12th September, 1898, also provided that—
The present Bill falls very far short of the provisions of the measure of the right hon. member for Standerton. I am rather surprised that members of the South African party when criticising the present press clause did not criticize the Minister for not going far enough.
Don’t you think the right hon. member ought to apologize to me?
Yes. Let me detail the true facts. What the right hon. member for Standerton had to do with it was this. I have a book in my hands entitled—
This is not a “century of wrong”, but a biography of the right hon. gentleman written by Mr. N. Levi whose name appeared in the parliamentary skit on the effect of the press clause recently published in the “Cape Argus”. On page 38 of that book he quotes the “Star” of May 25th, 1898, with reference to a visit paid by Mr. Smuts to Pretoria, where it states—
I propose to do so, it refers to the fact that Mr. Smuts was a protege of Mr. Cecil Rhodes who discovered him in Griqualand West in 1895 and brought him to the front. Soon after he fell under the influence of the Bond whose cause he espoused. The “Star” on June 2nd, 1898, announced that he had been offered the post of State Attorney although some people considered that his age, which was then 28, was too young. Mr. Levi explains in his book how it was that a man of 28 with all his precocity and ability could obtain the important post of State Attorney of the Transvaal Republic. Mr. Levi at page 39 continues—
A job for a pal. In fact this is one of the most glaring cases of jobs for pals. Let me give one more quotation from Mr. Levi’s biography of the right hon. member for Standeeton, to indicate his general attitude. At the foot of page 41, Mr. Levi states—
And now the right hon. member comes to this House and talks of freedom. The right hon. gentleman and freedom! What a startling contrast! On June 2nd, 1898, the post of State Attorney of the Transvaal was offered to Mr. Smuts and I do not think that with the ability he has always possessed and with his desire for power that more than 24 hours elapsed before he accepted. At any rate I do not think that he would allow the Transvaal to remain without a State Attorney until September 12th when the press law was gazetted. Unless he is in a position to state that in September, 1898, he had not accepted the post I submit that if any apology is needed at all it is from the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) to the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow). In the light of this legislation, it is preposterous, except from the point of view of wasting time for members on the South African party benches to criticize the Government on account of this press law. I want to say that our attitude, whether members of the Nationalist party or the Labour party, has not been actuated by antagonism to the press or to the working journalists responsible for bringing out a newspaper. I am not foolish enough to expect a newspaper belonging to Sir Lionel Phillips or to Sir Abe Bailey or Mr. Solly Joel or the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, assuming it is so—I say I am not foolish enough to expect that these people will use their papers for the purpose of propaganda against themselves. It will be ridiculous to expect it, but we are entitled to say that the public during the time of an election should have the fullest opportunity of knowing who owns the newspaper and who is responsible for the articles. We want them to know that the article is written by the person whose name is signed at the bottom, and it will then certainly not have the influence that newspapers have under the present arrangement. I would not worry if the provisions dealing with newspaper reporters were cut out, but I would like to see that every leading article is signed by the editor, and in the light of the information we have gleaned, I suggest to the Minister that he make the condition permanent instead of for the period of an election, and that when a newspaper appears, it should state—
And to Thomas Boydell.
Yes, why not?—
Then the public will know exactly what news to expect from those newspapers. That is all we ask. This clause is not an attack on the press, but an attack on the power of the press, which is subverting the rights of the public.
I do not intend to reply to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz, although the hon. member this afternoon and on a previous occasion has tried to get a reply to things he has said in connection with this matter. If one were to judge the hon. member by the attitude and speeches he has made in connection with this matter then he fills, with in his own party, the same place which is occupied by certain persons in certain houses of amusement. When one sees a person playing that role then no one takes him seriously. You look at it and laugh about it and then you forget. Hon. members have spoken seriously about the matter, therefore, I shall make a serious effort to answer a few of the arguments which have been advanced.’ Before I get to other members I just want first to say a few words about the personal explanation made by the hon. member for Beaconsfield (Col. Sir David Harris) and in connection with the passage at arms which took place between him and the hon. member for Vredefort (Mr. Munnik) in connection with this Bill on a previous occasion. I see that the whole question between them rests on a misunderstanding and it has originated in what I said on the estimates in connection with the registration that has taken place. I then said that my general instructions to the registration officer in Beaconsfield had not been carried out. I mentioned it only as a proof that the complaints about the registration were not at all only on one side, but on both sides and if there were registration officers who had not complied with the instructions it might be just as much on one side as on the other. I said that the registration officer at Beaconsfield received clear instructions to go from house to house and that he was not entitled to delegate the work to another person. The appointed official had to go to another house In Beaconsfield then the official instead of going himself to the native quarters, delegated the work to others which was definitely against my instructions. That is what I said and that is my explanation in connection with the question why no more persons from the native quarter were registered on the voters roll of Beaconsfield. The hon. member for Beaconsfield has said that only two appeared on the voters list. That may be true about the old roll, but on the new one according to my information 60 are registered. Then I come to the arguments of the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) who said that the Bill was being pushed through the House in a hurry. I wish to ask the hon. member whether there is any grounds for his statement? The Bill, as hon. members know was published in the Government Gazette as long ago as the 15th January of this year and it is now the middle of July. It has been for a long time under public notice and hon. members of this House have had a long time to study it. This Bill was one of those which was introduced at the very beginning of the session. It has been discussed time and again, and members have had the fullest opportunity to express their views on the Bill. Then there was a Select Committee which weeks on end went into matters and the hon. member for Caledon was at any rate in the later stages a member of that committee. How can he then say that it is being pressed through the House in a hurry?
The hon. member is only joking.
The hon. member for Caledon further said that no one asked for this Bill, and that it is therefore unnecessary. Has the hon. member then forgotten that when he was Speaker of the House in 1921 immediately after the general election the House discussed the unsatisfactory position of the existing Act and has the hon. member forgotten that the House found the complaint so well founded that a select committee was appointed on the motion of the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) who was a Minister in the previous Government. Has the hon. member forgotten that the Select Committee had evidence before it and made recommendations for an improvement in the existing Act and reported accordingly which was unanimously adopted by the House? Actually therefore as long ago as in 1921 instructions were given to introduce a Bill amending the existing Act. Now the hon. member still comes and says that it was not asked for. Then he says further that no one has ever said that the provisions of the existing Act were not strong enough. If the hon. member has no objection to the Bill being stronger then the hon. member had the fullest opportunity to vote against the principle of the Bill. He had the fullest right at the second reading, but in spite thereof that there were two sections one in connection with the press and the other in connection with philanthropic institutions to which the hon. member objected, neither he nor his party voted against the second reading, but accepted it.
Then the hon. member made a further point of practical objections to the Bill. He asks why we do not allow the whole matter to stand over until next year and then introduce a consolidating Bill and not an amending one? I will admit that from an administrative point of view there is much to be said for it, but the member knows well what will happen if I introduce practically an entirely new Electoral Bill in which all the sections of the old Act are repeated. We shall then have much more discussion than we should have on the amending Bill because practically every section is open for discussion and amendment. This would simply mean that a great deal of the time of this session would be given to the matter. I think, however, that I can remove the difficulty of the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige). I shall, to simplify and explain the Act to the officers and other persons who would like to see it done, have it re-printed showing all the amendments, and I will make copies available. I think this removes the practical difficulties of the hon. member. Then the hon. member said that he could not agree with the principle in the Bill compelling electors to vote where they resided. He said that that was socialistic.
I said that of the Bill as a whole.
No, the hon. member said more particularly in connection with this point that it was socialistic. I just want to point out to the hon. member that in speaking in this way about this section he did not even speak on behalf of his party, but only for himself. When the Bill was before the House at the second reading one member after another of the Opposition got up and said that they had no objection to it. In the Select Committee various objections were made, but only members of the Select Committee identified themselves with them and when that section was submitted they made no objection or at any rate did not ask for a division. Now the hon. member comes here with a general complaint against this section. He has clearly spoken on his own behalf and not for his party. As regards the socialism of this section I only wish to point out to the hon. member that if this is socialistic that there must then be a number of socialists on his own side. The hon. member should just remember that in all the three northern provinces they have already in the past been compelled to vote where they reside.
I am talking of the Cape Province.
Then we must take it that socialism as far as this Bill is concerned has long since prevailed in the three northern provinces. Now another point on which the hon. member and the whole party opposite laid emphasis, namely, the section in connection with the signing of articles and other election matter in newspapers. I just want first of all to say this because the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) has also referred to it again that I take the fullest personal responsibility on myself for this section. Of course the Government adopted the Bill, but as regards the introduction of this section I take the fullest responsibility on myself personally. Hon. members opposite follow their press too slavishly. If the press says something to-day then it is repeated the next day in the House. What has happened in connection with this section? First the South African party press alleged that the Minister of Justice was the man who was responsible for this section. The whole country echoed with it that the Minister had made a speech at Potchefstroom during the election in which he said that the newspapers abused their liberty. The hon. members opposite also repeated that throughout the country. Then the South African party press came and said that I was the scapegoat and hardly had the press made this discovery then not only the country, but also this House re-echoed that I was the responsible man. Thereafter an article appeared —I think in the “Cape Argus”—which said that neither the Minister of the Interior nor the Minister of Justice were the culprits, but the Minister of Labour was the man responsible for it, and that it was the Labour party which was behind it. Immediately thereafter the House resounded with it. I assure the hon. House that if a report appears to-morrow in the “Cape Times” or expresses the opinion that neither the Minister of Justice nor the Minister of the Interior nor the Minister of Labour, but Abdel Krim is responsible for it that then the House would resound with it that Abdel Krim was the scapegoat. I think that if this whole discussion has proved the necessity of anything then it is that hon. members of the Opposition must liberate themselves a bit from their own press and cultivate a little more independence of thought. Now I come to what the hon. members for Caledon (Mr. Krige) and Standerton (Gen. Smuts) said about a certain expression which I used here at the previous discussion. They represent it as if I said that it is easy to get over the provision of the Bill that article must be signed and that I had actually suggested that it should be done, and that I had indicated the method. The hon. members have quoted Hansard this afternoon. I recommend them to read it over again if they have sub dued their excitement a little. Then they will see what I said. I said that if a man was frightened to sign his name to a complaint which he wished to put into the paper, if he is afraid that his employer will avenge himself if he shows party feeling, and if he actually has facts which are worth the trouble for his party to have published, then he can submit the facts to anyone of his party, and that person can publish the facts in the paper. If a man is afraid to do a thing another man who is not afraid can do it. Now I ask whether if I want to put something in the newspaper, but am too frightened to do so, what disgrace is there in giving the facts to another person. Where is the evasion of the Act? What reason have the hon. members for Caledon and Standerton to come and read me a little lecture on political morality? Have the hon. members never yet given facts to other people? And others have written about them, or have used on the platform what they have said? What is the dishonesty in that?
Where do you wish to draw the line?
That is another matter. But it is not a question of dishonesty. I just want generally to say that hon. members opposite are following the example of the hon. member for Standerton, and put themselves just like him on a high standpoint so called, and then wish to read us on this side of the House a lecture. It is a good thing if this is done when there are facts to justify it, but if anyone is more religious than the Bible or more upright than truth then I must say it always creates at any rate suspicions in me. If the hon. members come here and are afraid of evasion and dishonesty, which is clearly no dishonesty, then I say it raises my suspicions. As we are discussing dishonesty in connection with the press I just wish to call to recollection a matter which happened a few years ago, when people who occupied an important place in the South African party sent Eli du Plessis to offer a certain sum of money from German sources in order to trap “Die Burger.” They wanted to smash the paper in that way, as they were not able to ruin it in any other way. Those facts were made known, but not one word of protest came from one of the hon. members in the House, and if they now want to come here to read us a lecture in connection with the press on political morality, well. I leave the country to form its own judgment. Now I come more particularly to what the hon. member for Standerton says. Let me just indicate by a few words the hollowness of his argument. He begins by saying that he personally, and the South African party, did not oppose the Bill at the second reading, but that it had gone to a select committee, and that it was there completely changed, “transformed,” and that practically a new Bill then came to light, and that therefore he raised his voice at this stage as a protest.
That is not what I said.
The hon. member certainly said so, he said that the Bill was completely “transformed.”
I said that I thought that article would be changed.
I accept it that the hon. member intended that, but he said just the opposite. But it is a fact that the law (the press also expressed surprise at it) came back practically unaltered. A few alterations were made, but they are not alterations which make the Bill more drastic, but the alterations in some respects simply make it less onerous. The hon. member for Standerton can therefore for the same reason that he supported the second reading also support the third reading. The hon. member further made a great deal of it that if this Bill is placed on the statute book that it will then make the Labour party stronger. I must say that I am quite satisfied if that is so. The Bill tries to make elections purer and more the expression of the people’s will, as it actually should be and if it has the result of making the Labour party stronger then I say they ought long ago to have been stronger, because then it is the will of the people that it should be stronger. The object of an election must be to find out what the people’s will is. The hon. member for Standerton further said that this Bill was a slap in the face of the press, and he said that the press did not deserve it. Now I am certain that the hon. member for Standerton has read—and he would have read it with approval—what was written in the “Second War of Independence” by Sir William Butler, more particularly with regard to the press of our country, when he pointed out that the English press of the country was simply bribed to bring on the war. That is the same press that we still have to-day. I will not say that it is to-day bought for certain purposes, but at that time the press was bought with the object of bringing blood and tears to South Africa, and did so. Now the hon. member for Standerton says that nothing is wrong with the press, and that he does not see how anything can be wrong with the press. We have our history which shows us what the press can come to and therefore it is a good thing to be cautious about the future. The hon. member for Standerton surely knows that a large number of the newspapers in our country are owned not by a large number of people who are shareholders spread far and wide over the country, but by a small group of people who have financial interests in it. The hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) has read out to the House who the shareholders are in a large number of newspapers in the country. In many cases it appears clearly that they are mining companies or groups of mines. This is not contradicted. Everybody can moreover satisfy himself on the point. Will members deny that a large number of papers in our country are owned by a group of mining companies, by a small number of big capitalists to whom everything depends on an election? Will hon. members state that people will be impartial at an election, will report speeches equally well that are made on the one side and on the other? I think that people must be very much prejudiced in favour of the press if they try to maintain that. But let us come to the ordinary public. The hon. member for Standerton and other members of this House know that even during the last election definite attempts were made with more or less success to organize all S.A.P. newspapers or those that can be regarded as such to get all their political information from one and the same source and to speak with one voice to the people, and that a circular went out of the head office of the S A. party in Pretoria to all these papers to ask them during the election period to write on certain definite lines that came from one source. It therefore is an organization for a defined end. Will hon. members allege that in these circumstances we can believe that the reports of political meetings are entirely impartial? I say that one must be very much prejudiced in favour of the press to take up that attitude. Then there is another matter mentioned by the hon. member for Standerton. He said: yes, but just look at the evidence before the Select Committee! It was decisive and—he continued, I did not act on it. Other members also brought forward the point and said that even the editor of “Die Burger” had given evidence before the Select Committee on the same lines as those of the other witnesses. Let me say this that as the statements of the editor of “Die Burger” have been construed here by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) and other members the editor of “Die Burger” does not contravene any law. He said positively in the Select Committee and repeated in his paper that the condition of the newspapers was such that something had to be done. Thus in principle he is in favour of something being done to muzzle the papers. That something must be done he clearly indicated. He did not say further that it was necessary as regards articles in which there was a gross misrepresentation on the part of the newspaper, gross twistings of what had actually occurred at public meetings, to have a means of making the writer of the report public. What did he suggest? As the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) knows well he proposed that if four or five persons present at a meeting were of opinion that a gross misrepresentation of what had taken place was given in the newspaper they could go to the magistrate’s court and demand as a matter of public interest that the name of the writer be made known. Therefore the principle of the publication of the writer’s name of such a report is approved by him. Only he indicates another way. How then can hon. members say that he objects to it? He has suggested something which is not practically effective, but in any case a wrong idea of his evidence was given to the House. As regards the other evidence I want to repeat what I said on a former occasion, namely, that I expected nothing else. The press representatives who appeared before the Select Committee simply started with the assumption—a wrong assumption—and hon. members of this House too have done so, that there is no necessity for this section, because the press—with the exception of a few unfortunates—never represent things wrongly, that there is no motive at all on the part of the press to represent things differently from what they are. As they started from this point of view the evidence was therefore useless and it was not necessary further to discuss it. In that way the evidence was stamped as one-sided and valueless. Just one point more. The hon. member for Standerton I think, but in any case other members said that the section was a curtailment of the liberty of the people, and that it would be injurious to the people. Let me now tell hon. members that this matter has been under discussion since the 15th January and that that side of the House, the Opposition, has spared no pains to blazen forth its opinion about encroachment upon the rights of the people in this connection. The flutter in the dovecot of the press I expected, but outside that press dovecot there was another big flutter in the House and yet—there is not a single soul who protested. Not a single meeting was called which resolved that the people’s rights are being curtailed by this section or which disapproved of this section. I say therefore that the people the large bulk of the people, approve heart and soul of the provision of section 44 of this Bill.
Motion put, and Mr. Robinson calleci for a division.
Upon which the House divided:
Badenhorst, A. L.
Barlow, A. G.
Bergh, P. A.
Beyers, F. W.
Brink, G. F.
Brits, G. P.
Conroy, E. A.
Creswell, F. H. R.
De Villiers, P. C.
De Villiers, W. B.
De Waal, J. H. H.
De Wet, S. D.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fordham, A. C.
Fourie, A. P. J.
Grobler, P. G. W.
Hattingh, B. R.
Havenga, N. C.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Le Roux, S. P.
Louw, E. H.
Madeley, W. B.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, D. F.
Malan, M. L.
McMenamin, J. J.
Mostert, J. P.
Naudé, A. S.
Naudé, J. F. (Tom)
Pienaar, J. J.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Rood, W. H.
Roos, T. J de V.
Snow, W. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Heerden, I. P.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Rensburg, J. J.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Werth, A. J.
Wessels, J. B.
Wessels, J. H. B.
Tellers: Pienaar, B. J.; Vermooten, O, S.
Bates, F. T.
Brown, D. M.
Byron, J. J.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Coulter, C. W. A.
Deane, W. A.
Giovanetti, C. W.
Jagger, J. W.
Krige, C. J.
Lennox, F. J.
Louw, G. A.
Marwick, J. S.
Miller, A. M.
Nel, O. R.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Rider, W. W.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Smuts, J. C.
Struben, R. H.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Van Zyl, G. B.
Tellers: Collins, W. R.; Robinson, C. P.
Motion accordingly agreed to.
Bill read a Third Time.
Third Order read: House to go into Committee on the Natives Taxation and Development Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 2,
The purpose of the amendment is to empower the Minister to suspend the tax in areas in which there has not been sufficient desire manifested by the natives for education or improvements contemplated on behalf of the natives in the Bill. This would be a wise provision for it is quite obvious that there will be among the backward natives considerable opposition to the tax, especially as in those areas native councils do not exist and the natives will be slow to be convinced that the tax of 10s. per hut will ultimately be used for their benefit. In these areas natives are not very desirous of education, and the destiny of this money, as the law stands, is the native development fund and the bulk of that fund. I take it, will be used for education. Although the amendment may not be necessary where natives show a desire for education, it may be utilized where natives show dissatisfaction against the proposed impost.
I hope and trust the Minister will not give way on this clause. In Clause 1 the principle has been agreed to, and as it will not make any difference I hold the Minister will be correct in holding fast to the wording of the clause.
The natives in South Africa and particularly in Natal have been accustomed to the patriarchal system, and the effect of this Clause No. 2 will be to strike against that system. I think it is my duty to warn this House that the system of taxation, which is being introduced under Clause 2, is going to cause serious trouble in Natal. The natives in Natal in 1905 objected to the poll tax, and their objections are as strong to-day as in 1905. In this proposed tax there is to be a poll tax on natives from eighteen years upwards. That means every native over eighteen years in the kraal becomes an independent unit, and this system is striking at the foundation of the social system of the natives which they have been accustomed to from time immemorial. If the tax had been incurred, but confined to the hut tax, there would not have been any trouble, but in splitting the tax it has made all the difference. I feel sure trouble will follow in Natal in enforcing payment of the poll tax. The effect of the tax is going to mean a marked increase in the burdens of the natives. Take the native on a farm with three huts. At present they pay 14s. tax on each hut. Where a native has at least eight adult natives in his kraal he and inmates of his kraal instead of paying 52s. a year in taxes have to pay £8 in taxes under this Bill. The natives would not have objected if it had been a consolidated tax, but they do object to the dual form of taxation. I think it is my duty to sound a note of warning because unless the Government take the trouble to explain the tax very carefully in the back part of Natal I feel certain we are going to have trouble. The minds of the natives in those parts are already becoming agitated. I hope the Minister will consider very carefully this Clause 2, and as to whether it is not possible to alter it so as to bring it in to one consolidated tax.
With regard to what the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel) has said in regard to the tax itself adopted by the House I can only repeat that this taxing measure has been discussed at a congress in Pretoria which was representative of all the natives in the country.
Since then the proposed tax has been explained to every native in the country concerned. With regard to the amendment of the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) it would be a pity if we accept the idea that in certain circumstances this tax could be suspended. The hon. member says that in some parts of Natal the natives are backward and have not manifested a desire for education. Not a penny of the local tax will be spent on book learning. It will be spent in connection with irrigation, agriculture, the treatment of the soil and things like that. Take Natal. The white people of Natal have complained that they have not sufficient land for the natives in Natal. If we could educate the native in improved agricultural methods they would get much more from the soil than is at present the case. It would be a pity to differentiate between the natives of Natal and Zululand where a desire is expressed to make a forward move so far as is concerned with the bringing of agricultural and other education to the doors of the native. All the cost will come from the native development fund. The whole of the local tax will be spent on agriculture, irrigation, etc. in districts where a native council exists. Schools, etc. will be subsidized to the extent of one-fifth of the general tax. I do not think the House would be advised to accept the amendment of the hon. member for Illovo, and I regret that I cannot accept the amendment.
There appears to be some misunderstanding about this question of consulting the native. We have the Minister’s assurance that the natives were consulted, but I have here a copy of a resolution passed at a meeting of natives on all Crown locations in the magisterial division of East London, and it definitely says—
There is a misunderstanding, and unless it is removed from the minds of the natives it will have a bad effect. I will be glad if the Minister will tell us that the natives of this particular division were consulted in regard to this increased taxation, and if they agreed to it or whether objections were offered to it. They reiterate—
It is regrettable if the natives feel that they have not been properly consulted, or if the people who were consulted were not really representative of them and of their interests.
I am informed by the Native Affairs Department that at the Native Conference held at Pretoria, to which I referred, there were present, as delegates from the Cape, Prof. D. D. T. Jabavu (Victoria East); Chief J. Langa (East Pondoland); Chief Scanlen Lehana (East Griqualand); Mr. T. Makiwane (West Pondoland); Mr. S. S. Matoti (Tembuland); Rev. P. Matshikwe (Cape Town); Dr. S. Molema (British Bechuanaland); Mr. H. Ntsokota (East London); Mr. J. G. Sikiti (Herschel): Mr. Singqandu (Queenstown); Chief C. Veldman (Fingoland); in addition, the measure has been explained to the natives by the various magistrates of the various districts concerned.
Did they agree?
At this congress in the main they agreed, except, as I informed the House, that it was thought that the general tax should be 15s. instead of £1, but on the whole a very large measure of agreement was reached.
I think the natives should understand very distinctly that it is the intention of the Government—as I understand it—that this local tax is not to be used for educational purposes. The natives in the Eastern Province who are not under the council system at present are under the impression that the local tax is to be used, not only for local purposes, but also for educational purposes. One-fifth of the general tax I understand is to be paid to the provincial councils for educational development?
No, not the whole. They get a certain amount for the natives.
I understand that the Provincial Council will be directly responsible for the educational development of the natives, and that the local councils will not be responsible. The Act of 1920 distinctly provides that one of the functions of these local councils shall be responsibility for educational development. I think the natives of the Cape Province—at any rate where we have had a certain amount of local government—should distinctly understand when they form these councils, that they will not be empowered to utilize funds arising from the local tax for educational purposes. That is the position, I take it?
I understand from the department that that is the intention.
I know that in the Transkei, where we have our council system, it has always been understood by the natives that the objects for which they tax themselves are not only for local improvements, roads, etc., but also for education. I want to warn the Minister that when these local councils are started in the Eastern Province he is going to have a considerable amount of difficulty if their powers are not clearly defined. The natives should be advised that the revenue raised by the local tax is not to be used for educational purposes, if such is the decision of the Government.
Of course, that is a question of native policy administration. I am informed that, where these taxes are paid to the local council, they have local government; and I cannot stop them from spending the money if they want to spend a portion on education, but I understand that it would be the policy of the Native Affairs Department to discourage them from using any portion of this local tax for book learning. The idea is that they should use this money for the development of agriculture among the natives. This tax will be paid over to them and they will have the spending of it.
The statement made at the Conference in Pretoria by the Native Affairs Department was that Parliament had decided that the natives would be taxed for any further-expansion of native education. I take it that is exactly what the position is here. That is the statement made by the chairman at this conference, who represented the Government.
That is quite right.
Do the natives understand that this money is to be used for educational purposes? The masses of the natives in Natal have never been consulted. They have never had any opportunity of making representations directly to the Government. The conference at Pretoria consisted, so far as Natal was concerned, of four natives.
There were six delegates.
I am quoting from the report of the Native Affairs Conference in 1923—unless there was a further conference later?
Yes, last year.
Anyhow, I am certain that at the Native conference, the representatives there were not representatives of the masses of the natives, that is, the native in his crude state; they were representatives of the more advanced and educated natives. The trouble the Government is going to have will be with the native who is uneducated, who is still subject to the old patriarchal system, and who objects to any measure being passed which in any way is going to undermine that system. Undoubtedly, the effect of this Bill will be that when a young native of 18 and upwards pays his poll tax, he will consider himself an independent unit, no longer subject to the control of the kraal head. The payment of this personal tax is one which is taking away the control of the kraal head over the young native. I repeat that in my opinion the Government are going to have serious consequences in Natal unless they take considerable trouble in fully explaining this law to the natives, and pointing out to them that the extra taxation they will have to pay is going to be used solely for their benefit.
I would like the Minister to consider whether, in agreeing to the clause, he might not in two ways deal with a certain amount of dissatisfaction that is to arise over the disposal of the tax. A large number of natives of the backward kind will never believe this is going to be used for their benefit. They have been told often the taxation will be for their own good. They have no local council of then own; and it is going to be very difficult for us to convince them that this money is going to be used actually for their own benefit. I know, under the Act, there is provision for the money to be ultimately set apart and if necessary, used in the area from which it is derived. But it is going to be necessarily difficult to convince the natives, in the initial stages of the working of this Act, that this is going to be done, and it seems to me that where you hold out, as justification to the natives, the application of this money to their own benefit, you should not be too insistent on imposing this tax; otherwise they will turn round and say this money cannot be applied solely for our own benefit, or the Government would not impose on us a tax which we do not feel to be necessary at the moment. If the Government would agree to this amendment of mine, it would be, to my mind, the essence of wisdom to have a provision of this sort where you are dealing with a large class of natives who, for the first time, are being brought under uniformity and who, to begin with, will not like the penalties they are paying for uniformity. I do not think it can be said that the natives have been fully consulted about this matter,’ because even since the proposals were introduced in this House, they have been altered from a purely personal tax of £1 and 10s. to a personal tax of £1 and a hut tax of 10s. The altered incidence of the tax is a matter upon which the natives certainly will have something to say, and the Minister would do well to accept my amendment as a safeguard in case of difficulty arising over the enforcement of the tax in its initial operation.
I could wish that this matter could be deferred until the promise of the Prime Minister is redeemed, at the next session, and the outline of the native policy of the Government placed before this House. He has admitted, in connection with another measure, the unfortunate fact that it was introduced before that policy was introduced to the House. Why should not this Bill be deferred. The natives are contributing to the revenue through the customs, and I ask the Minister to consider the wisdom of deferring action until we have that native policy defined in this House.
There is an organization in Maritzburg, Natal, called the Native Welfare Society, the members of which take a considerable interest in the betterment of the natives. This society evidently agrees with the taxation proposals embodied in this Bill, but they contend, at the same time, that the general tax and the hut tax—the 30s. in all should be made personal. The secretary of this society informs me that he has communicated by wire with the Minister of Finance, putting forward the society’s opinions in this connection, and perhaps the Minister might say whether he has given any consideration to the desires and opinions of the people belonging to the Native Welfare Society at Pietermaritzburg.
We know that certain people have certain interests in the various provinces, and have different ideas as regards the incidence of the tax. In Natal it is said it should be a personal tax, but this alteration was made on the advice of the Chief Magistrate of the Transkei. If you want uniformity you cannot agree to the views of everybody.
The Natal natives have not had an opportunity of expressing their views on this matter. Now that it is to be made a tax on natives in Zululand and Natal they will not be prepared to pay the personal tax and the hut tax. In Natal the natives are already talking as they did in Bambata’s time, and that is why I consider it is my duty to sound a word of warning. There is already a lot of unrest amongst the natives on the question of the tax. The natives in the Transkei are in a different position from those in Natal, and what will suit the former will not suit the latter. Before the alteration was made the matter should have been fully explained to them, for the Natal natives hate this form of taxation, i.e., the poll and hut tax and I am sure the Government will experience a great deal of trouble in collecting the tax.
It is exceedingly unfortunate that a debate of such importance as this is confined to very few members. The Minister now says the local tax may be used for education by the local bodies formed under the Act of 1920, but at the same time the Provincial Council controls native education, so then there will be two bodies dealing with the same subject. The danger is this, in the Transkei the native councils which we have had for the last 20 years will complain that the newly formed bodies have powers to divert money for education and other purposes while they have not the same powers. The Minister should be very definite on the point that the newly formed councils shall not utilize money for education—if such is the intention—and it should be distinctly understood that the Provincial council is responsible for native education, and that one-fifth of the funds to be obtained from the general poll tax shall be expended on native education. Otherwise I am afraid the new bodies may prove failures and serious trouble may be created among the old councils.
The Estimates have to be approved by the Government, so that will be a check.
The Minister should let it be clearly known to the new councils that native education falls within the province of the Provincial Council.
Amendment put and negatived.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Clause 4,
I just wish to make a few remarks with reference to section 4, the exemptions from taxation. Under (b) persons are excluded who come from beyond the Union to work here and who have not been here twelve months or have paid taxes in their country of origin. There are many natives who come over the border to work here. They stop here and are then exempted from our taxes. Further, I find under (c) that natives at school are exempted. This is more than is done for white boys. White boys of 21 at school must pay the tax, namely, £1 15s.
Yes, but natives of 18 have to pay.
It is a favour which is shown to him in preference to the white man. If he can prove that he pays outside the Union he is exempted. It is easy for such natives to get receipts from the Portuguese authorities, and they then escape our taxation. Four natives live on my farm. They pay the tax to the Portuguese Controller and not the taxes of the Union. They have been living here for years. I do not think that the Minister of Finance should give more privileges to the natives than to the white man.
Under the present Transvaal statute, which is hereby repealed, provision is made that a native who has worked for a stated time on a farm only pays half the tax. I wish to ask the Minister of Finance to again make provision for this in the Bill, because it is the complaint in the Transvaal that they can get no workers on the farm, although they are surrounded by thousands of natives. They only come to work when they need money to pay the taxes. Now the tax is reduced and no provision is made to encourage the natives to go and work on the farms, something which is done under the present Act, where a native is exempted from half of his tax, I hope that the Minister will make this exception for the sake of the native himself, because it will eventually be in their interests to induce them to go and work on the farms.
I am going to move an amendment to give effect to what the hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. J. F. Tom Naudé) has said. I had already drafted the amendment, and I will now move the following new clause—
It is admitted that the natives working on a farm do not get the same remuneration as the natives who are working in the towns, and under these circumstances I think the amendment is quite a reasonable and fair one, and I hope the Minister will see his way clear to accept it.
I hope that the Minister will not accept the amendment. I think the native on the farm is sufficiently privileged, because in the Government locations they already have to pay a tax of 10s. on each hut. Let us now have a uniform tax, and I think that hon. members should stop wishing to make all sorts of alterations. Members should rather assist the Minister to get a good and uniform Act. Nor can I agree with the view of the hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. J. F. Tom Naudé) where he wants the native on the farm taxed with only 10s. The hut tax will drive them to the farms.
With reference to the hint to give the natives who work on farms a, rebate, hon. members will see that it is now impossible to do so. We want uniformity, and if we should now grant exemption to an amount of half the tax, then we should not get the estimated amount, and the whole scheme will be thrown into confusion. I said that the Government had to get a certain amount for the treasury and another for native development. If we grant this rebate we shall be £200,000 short, and it is impossible to agree to that at this stage. We do not tax the people who come from outside to work here, but those who live here. If they pay taxes in their country of origin, then we cannot tax them again here. We have adopted that attitude with reference to the Portuguese natives. With reference to the young natives at school, I want to point out that it would be unfair to apply the tax to them, seeing that it is payable from their 18th year.
With regard to the exemption of natives who pay taxes in the areas from which they come into the Union, I want to support the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius). The Minister does not appreciate the position. The natives are now living here permanently. They came from the Portuguese territory. They do not pay either there or here.
Then they must pay here.
When they have lived here for two years we must regard them as Union natives. Our police must protect them. They live here, marry here, their lands are here, and then they pay taxes to the Portuguese. How are we going to define permanent inhabitants?
They will have to pay when they have lived here two years.
Yes, they do pay taxes, but the Portuguese Controller sends the money away to Portuguese territory. How long is this to continue? If they do not wish to pay taxes here, then we must send them away out of the country.
I have a small amendment on the Order Paper. I do not know whether the Minister will agree to that. I move—
I do not think that is quite necessary. The hon. member will see that on page 4, at the top, the receiver is brought in, and he governs the whole sub-section.
I move the amendment. It seems to me, notwithstanding the explanation of the Minister, that it is quite possible that the interpretation as to the person who may issue certificates under the sub-sections (a), (b), (c) and (d) may not be the receiver-; it may be some educational authority, of something of that sort.
I also have an amendment—
I move it now.
Yes. I accept that.
I should like to ask the Minister of Finance as far as the Transvaal is concerned to review the general tax of £1 in order to meet the hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. J. F. Tom Naudé). Previously it was £2, and this is now reduced to £1. If natives are not squatters we should make them pay more, namely, £1 10s., and not only £1. There is a strong feeling in the Transvaal that if natives fulfil their contracts we should encourage them in this way.
We hope to deal with the question of squatters when a Bill in connection therewith comes on. As regards the increase in the tax, I should like to say that we cannot now increase the tax because the committee of ways and means has already settled it.
Amendments proposed by Mr. Marwick and Mr. Nel put and negatived.
Amendment proposed by Mr. Payn put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 6,
I want to ask the hon. Minister a question with regard to the word “demand.” An obligation is here placed upon the owner of a farm. And then, again, in the next line we read “demand and return.” It is an obligation on the owner, and I should like to see that the words “in writing,” should be added especially as there is no penalty. Section 10 provides that an owner who contravenes the provisions of this section shall be punishable with a fine of £5 or imprisonment of a month. In English it says “on demand.” From that I conclude that it must be in writing, and I would suggest using the words “letter of demand.”
The forms are left there.
Is such a form a demand?
The hon. member will see that this will make the administration difficult. The police go round and leave the forms with the farmers and then call for them again. If everything has to be done in writing it will make the obtaining of the information very difficult.
Many of the natives supposed to be residing on a certain farm are frequently not there, and may have been away for years. There will thus be a difficulty on the part of the owner of such land in giving the information required.
We are only after the people who pay the taxes.
You do not know what your representatives may do. Sometimes they are particularly irritating, and I can see difficulties arising from the powers given in this clause.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 7,
This clause empowers the arrest of the native who fails “on demand” to produce the document referred to. Any number of people have this authority given to them to demand the production of the document, and I think it is putting rather too drastic power in the hands of these people, some of whom are quite likely to abuse it.
It is only applicable to certain areas.
A native may not be popular with his headman or the police, and it is only fair to give him a reasonable time in which to produce the certificate. Many of the natives go about almost nude, and have no place in which to carry a certificate. Even if they did carry the certificate it would be illegible in a few weeks. As it stands the clause is far too drastic, unless it is a pass law in disguise. I would suggest that they be given seven days in which to produce the certificate.
I raised this point on the second reading of the Bill. The matter has caused a good deal of uneasiness in this province. The susceptibilities of the natives, particularly of those who have attained a high standard of civilization, might well be met.
The hon. member raised the matter at the second reading, and I have consulted the department, and I have been informed it would be impossible to collect the tax in certain areas unless we have this power.
I don’t think that meets the point that has been raised. Supposing a native in one area wandered into another area and does not happen to be carrying his receipt with him. Under the section he may be arrested without warrant, although he has paid the tax. His only remedy would be to carry the receipt wherever he went. Supposing this man was within a few minutes of his hut he could go and get the certificate. He might be many miles away, and the Minister does not see that as soon as the demand for the receipt is made, if he cannot produce it, he is arrested although he has paid the tax. I think a reasonable time should be given to the man to produce it. If the native was only a mile away from the hut seven days would be too long. I suggest it should be left to the courts to say what a reasonable time is, and they would exercise the power with absolute justice and discretion. I move—
Amendment put and negatived.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Clause 11,
I have a small amendment on page 936 of the Votes and Proceedings—
The object of this amendment is to provide that the local tax in Natal shall, in the absence of any native council as contemplated by the Act of 1920, go to the Natal native trust or the Zululand native trust. All the native areas are vested in these trusts with the object of the well-being and advancement of the natives being promoted by these trusts. It seems to me where you are levying a 10s. tax, which is for this express object, the improvement of the native, it is desirable that a body which has existed ever since 1860 for that express purpose should have the administration of these funds, arid if the Minister is able to agree to these bodies being trusted to the control of these funds it would also serve to allay any uneasiness in the native mind as to the ultimate disposal of the money. I hope the amendment I have proposed here will appeal to the Minister, and that he may be willing to agree to its insertion.
It appears to me that the hon. member (Mr. Marwick) is row moving something for which the consent of the Governor-General should be obtained.
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, before you decide that, may I explain that what I am moving is merely that that money shall go into the hands of a body that exists for the same purpose as the councils exist for, that for all purposes of advancement and progress amongst the natives, these two bodies have the same objects in view. They are different in character, but they are bodies corporate, established by letters patent for certain express purposes in connection with the promotion of the well-being of the natives, and it is merely that this money shall go to these bodies, the directing officer of which is the Minister of Native Affairs under the Act of 1912. He is constituted as the Natal Native Trust, or as the officer empowered to carry out the powers vested in the Trust.
What the hon. member moves, it seems to me, is to alter the designation of the money. The Governor-General has previously authorized a certain expenditure, the allocation of which is described here. The hon. member wishes to alter the designation, I am afraid that I cannot accept the amendment.
I think there are practical objections against this amendment. The hon. member (Mr. Marwick) has stated that the Natal Native Trust and the Zululand Native Trust is really the Minister of Native Affairs. Under this Bill, the monies in the Native Development Fund will be expended by the Minister of Native Affairs in consultation with the Native Affairs Commission. If the money is paid over to these Trusts, you would not have this consultation with the Native Affairs Commission who would, perhaps, give valuable advice as to the destination of this money. On the other hand, if the money were paid to the Trust, that would practically preclude the formation of these native councils. If we are anxious to encourage the formation of these native councils, I think the money should be paid over to them so that they may come into being.
Where the native councils do not exist?
Where they do not exist now. Where they do not exist they could not come into being if the funds were not available.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Clause 19,
and in line 27, to omit “charged” and to substitute “collected from natives”.
Yes, I accept that.
I would like to ask the Minister how many different religious sects and religions are occupying lands in the Native Territories. I believe there are over 100 different religions and I think there should be some stop on this; there should be a limit.
Originally this was not included because the land was given by the Mission Societies and the natives paid rent. The reason I was prepared to accept this amendment was because it was pointed out to me by the hon. member that where natives did not occupy land under these conditions it would be advisable to bring this provision in. This thing is optional; it will only be employed in certain cases.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Remaining Clauses, the schedule and title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; to be considered to-morrow.
Fourth Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 10th instant, on Head 2, Railways and Harbours Estimates.]
I understood from the hon. member for Bethlehem (Mr. J. H. Brand Wessels), that when the last Bill was finished, no further business would be taken, and that progress would be reported, and on the strength of that many of our members have left. I move—
I think that a misunderstanding has arisen, and to a question by an Opposition Whip, I replied that we would go on until this Bill was finished. As there was a misunderstanding I hope that the Minister will meet the Opposition.
If that has been the understanding, naturally I do not want to interfere; but the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) is here, and he is a host in himself, and surely we might continue up to 10.55. If not, we shall be losing a quarter of an hour.
Motion put and agreed to.
Progress reported; House to resume in committee to-morrow.
The House adjourned at