House of Assembly: Vol5 - THURSDAY 16 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
Is the Customs Tariff Bill ready yet?
I do not know whether the printing is quite completed. It was put in hand some days ago.
I quite agree, but still the time is getting on.
I wish to draw attention to certain procedure recently followed in connection with the business of this House, which, in my opinion, was highly undesirable. I refer to the proceedings in connection with recommendation No. (43) of the Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Crown Lands, printed on page 953 of the Votes and Proceedings, viz.—
This recommendation was agreed to in Committee of the Whole House last evening, and a report embodying the proposal was forthwith adopted and ordered to be transmitted to the Honourable the Senate for concurrence. Scrutiny has not in the past been applied by the chief officers of this House to the papers regarding the disposal of or otherwise affecting Crown lands which are from time to time tabled by the Minister of Lands, and which as a matter of practice are thereupon automatically referred to the Select Committee on Crown Lands for consideration, otherwise the proposal referred to would not have been allowed to go to the Committee in question without my attention being drawn thereto, thus enabling me to take the necessary steps to acquaint the House with my view thereon. The question of interfering with the Parliamentary buildings and grounds is one which affects the privileges of members of both Houses, and the least that should have been done in this instance was for the responsible Minister to consult the President of the Honourable the Senate and myself in the matter before any papers dealing with the subject were laid upon the Table of either House. The course that would then have been followed would have been to refer the matter to the Select Committees on Internal Arrangements of both Houses sitting jointly, through which body any proposal to alienate any portion of the Parliamentary grounds should, in my opinion, reach Parliament. I cannot say whether the President of the Senate was consulted beforehand, but I certainly was not. I do not see that this House or I can now intervene, and I have therefore to content myself with drawing attention to the matter, in the hope that no future encroachments on the site over which the two Houses of Parliament exercise direct supervision will be embarked upon before such consultation as I have indicated is sought by the Government Department concerned.
Am I permitted to say anything in connection with your statement?
No, the hon. member is not permitted.
Leave was granted to the Prime Minister to introduce the South Africa Act, 1909, Further Amendment Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading to-morrow.
Leave was granted to the Minister of Education to introduce the University Schools Transfer Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on Monday.
Leave was granted to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs to introduce the Merchant Shipping (Certificates of Competency) Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on Monday.
I do not wish to oppose the second reading on Monday; but will the Bill be printed to-morrow?
I think it will be ready to-morrow, but if not, you will have it by Saturday for certain.
The total amount of the Loan Estimates which have been placed on the Table, is £13,592,000. I, however, propose to ask the House to add to these estimates an additional £500,000 in connection with Vote A (Railways and Harbours). Very much larger amounts than have been provided for here have in the ordinary course been submitted by the departments as the minimum requirements. These have been cut down, and in the case of the railways, it was hoped that the amount of £6,600,000 from the Treasury would have sufficed, but on further examination, we find it will be necessary to add another £500,000. The Minister of Railways says it will be impossible to execute the necessary works without this additional provision being made. The total figure would come to £14,092,000, to meet which there is in sight and available on loan account, on the 31st of March last, £2,350,000. Then hon. members can add to that, loan recoveries amounting to £2,060,000. Then we have surrenders from loan votes for 1924-5 amounting to £200,000. which gives a total sum of £4,690,000. From this, however, must be deducted the existing deficit on revenue account of £1,100,000, which at present has been financed out of loan account. Hon. members will remember it was £1,900,000, but it was reduced, leaving a balance of £1,100,000 which is at present being financed from loan account. That will make a total amount available towards the proposed capital expenditure of £3,590,000. The Treasury, in order to carry out this programme of capital expenditure, will have to borrow, during the year, an amount of £10,500,000 plus such sums as may be required for renewal of loans and bills which may mature during the year.
How much are they offering?
There was a loan of about £3,000,000 coming due on the first of this month, and that is what I think it will have to be. As I have pointed out, the original demands made for what the departments considered absolutely necessary services, amounted to very much more than this; but we have cut down the figure to the amount I have quoted. These figures are admittedly high, but regard must be had to the very considerable grants for, for instance, railways and harbours and the electricity commission—which is over a million—and other very necessary services where it will be seen we have to provide large sums. There are also the loans to the provinces to meet their deficits. I might also mention that the whole of this £14,092,000 will be interest-bearing with the exception of a total amount of about £1.250,000 in connection with such works as forestry, public works, defence and public health, expenditure and £200,000 for labour. Expenditure of this nature, though some of it may be regarded as reproductive, is of course, not at present interest-bearing; like forestry, which will ultimately produce revenue, but does not do so at present. I do not propose to discuss the details of these votes, that might more conveniently be done in committee. I only wish to say I cannot give to the House any information as to how I propose to raise the money during the year. I may say that the position in regard to financing large sums of this nature at present is difficult. Negotiations are at present proceeding in London, but I do not think it will be in the public interest for me to discuss the question further here at this moment. I now move that the House go into Committee on the Loan Estimates.
I would like to say a few words, but first let me give the Minister a tip in regard to the railways. He ought to do as Mr. Burton and myself did; simply put down how much you are going to spend and make them accommodate their works accordingly. I know the railway officials may want £10,000,000 and I have known £11,000,000 to be asked for. You should say, this is what you have to spend, and they would have to accommodate themselves accordingly. According to this brown book, there are hundreds of thousands of pounds that could be cut out with no loss to the railways; simply by deferring them for the time being. Why the Minister has agreed to this last £500.000 I cannot see. Mr. Burton and I invariably used to agree upon an amount, generally £5,000,000, and then the officials had to bring their works into that amount. I might just remind my hon. friend, in a gentle sort of way, that when he and his friends sat here, they were very strong in criticizing the late Government on, I won’t say reckless, but the very considerable loan expenditure, and the way debt was piled up, and I also noticed in his budget speech that he claimed that they are never averse to spending money, but only on non-productive works; but it seems he is going to spend over a million on non-productive works. As the hon. member for Benoni says, he looks at it from a different point of view now that he is on the Treasury benches. I am out for economy.
So am I.
And I always have been. Of the amount mentioned by the Minister, £1,200,000 will not be interest bearing. The Minister expects to get from recoveries and gold leases and so forth something like £2,000,000, and he has in the Treasury about £2,400,000 from which he has to take £1,100,000. That leaves £10,500,000 which the Minister will have to borrow. Besides that there is about £3,000,000 of loan money due for repayment on the 1st of this month. No doubt he has been able to provide for that. The public debt on March 31 last was £214,322,000, the average interest being 4.1 per cent. The interest represents an annual charge of £8,830,000. More than half of that comes out of railway funds, but it is a liability on the country and if the railways do not pay the taxpayers have to.
We want a State Bank.
Does the hon. member think that we should have not to find the interest in exactly the same way even if we had a State bank, unless he wants to manufacture paper with which to pay our debts? Our credit stands high, and we don’t want to damage it by those little fakes. This is a most unfortunate time to choose to go in for big loan expenditure. This is the biggest loan programme ever laid before the House. I am not going to blame anyone, but I wish to state the position. We propose to raise a big loan at a time when money is scarce and dear all the world over. Judging from what one sees in the press it seems to me doubtful whether we shall be able to get the money in London, because the Australian Commonwealth—not of its own free-will—has had to leave London and go to New York, because they could not get the money in England. Rather than do that the Prime Minister of New South Wales prefers to wait until he can raise the money he wants in London. Many first class securities offered by other countries and bodies have not been taken up in London, and several loans recently put on the London market have fallen flat, or have had to be taken up by the under-writers. The prospects of raising money in the London market are not at all bright at the present moment, and from what one sees and knows and reads it would be a very great pity indeed if we had to break our connection with London. There is no question that London has treated us liberally in the past. The average rate of interest on our external debt, which represents 60 per cent. of the total interest payable, is, if anything, a trifle under 4 per cent. against 4½ per cent payable in South Africa. Furthermore, England takes the payment of the annual interest in the shape of our produce. Our exports exceed our imports and we have a free entry into England for all our exports and part of those exports go to pay the interest on our debt. We have had cheap money and no onerous terms, and no insistence on a big sinking fund, as New York would have done. Unfortunately, however, there appears to be only one market in which we can borrow outside London and that is New York. America is practically the only country in the world which is in a position to lend money to other countries. We shall not be able to borrow on the same terms in New York as in England by a long, long way. The Americans are accustomed to get more for their money than the English people are. Our credit stands high in London, but we are not known at all in New York, and the latter’s terms will undoubtedly be onerous. A fair sinking fund will have to be attached to the loan. Queensland fell out some time ago with the London financiers, and then borrowed in New York, but she returned to England of her own free will and made up her quarrel with the English financiers. I do not think we should be able to borrow in New York at less than 5¾ or 6 per cent. The last number of the “Economist” contains an interesting table showing the rates paid for money in New York as compared with London. The Argentine, a country of very good standing, pays £5 15s. per cent. on loans raised in London, as against £6 5s. per cent. on loans raised in New York. Take Chili. In London she is worth £6 1s., and in New York £6 17s. 6d. Take the Dutch East Indies. In London she is worth £5 and in New York £5 9s. Take the German seven per cent. loan—in London it stands at £6 19s., and in New York at £7 5s. Take Norway another very good security. The six per cent. loan in London is worth 105, and returns £5 13s. In New York it is worth 100¾, and returns £5 19s. Take two French railways, the Paris Underground, the seven per cent. loan in London is valued at 101, and gives a return of £5 18s. The same company in New York is valued at 89½, and makes a return of £8 3s. Then you have the Paris, Lyons and Mediterranean Railway. In London it is valued at 86 per cent. and returns £7 2s. In New York their six per cent. loan is valued at 79, and returns £7 15s.
Canada borrowed money cheaper.
Perhaps so, but there is no advantage in borrowing in America. America does not take our produce, and I think our imports from America are more than our exports. The interest, therefore, would have to be paid in cash, and we have not the great advantage that they would take anything that we send free. That is a great drawback. The position is very serious. If we have to pay six per cent. for our money there are many works in this schedule which are not worth making. There are plenty of works to carry on if we can borrow cheap, say at four per cent. It is worth making a railway at that figure, but if you have to borrow at six per cent. it is a different story. It couldn’t make six per cent. and by that means you increase the burdens on the people. We cannot afford that money if we have to pay for it at six per cent., as if we had been able to borrow at four per cent., which we have been accustomed to in years gone by. My idea is that we should go slow in borrowing. We have gone along quite merrily since Union without check, largely owing to the fact that we have been able to borrow money cheaply. According to the auditor’s report—you will find it on page 7—the average rate of interest on the external debt is 3.84 per cent. When we borrowed as cheap as that we could afford to go along freely, but now the position is altered, and I urge on the Government in these matters to go very slow for some time until the London market recovers. I think we might depend more upon ourselves. We have got £2,000,000 in the shape of loan recoveries, gold leases, mynpachts, etc. That can be spent. There is also an amount of loan balance £2,450,000, but we have a deduction of £1,150,000 which has to be deducted for re-payment of deficits. There is £3,500,000 balance which can be spent for loan purposes. I think we might raise locally £3,000,000. Last year we raised £3,400,000 and on that occasion we were handicapped by other issues. Depending on ourselves alone, with recoveries, the balance at the Treasury, and a local loan, we should have £6,500,000 without going outside Africa. I suggest that is quite sufficient to spend during the current year. I would urge the Government to carefully consider this question and bear in mind that this country cannot afford to spend money freely and pay the present rate of interest. It is not justified. The time may come when we cannot borrow money at all, because we cannot afford to pay the interest. That is referred to in the Departmental Commission’s report, which says that the time is coming when it will not pay to extend the railways. If we don’t keep our borrowing down until we can borrow reasonably, then the time is coming when we shall have to stop borrowing, because we cannot afford to pay the high interest. I mention these things to the Minister and House as a warning.
I don’t think we should listen to the policy of despair preached by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central). The member suggests that because it is almost impossible to borrow money now the policy should be to cut down public works, which are necessary, and that we should wait till such times as the money markets recover, so that we can borrow money at a low rate. Anyone who has followed the condition of affairs existing at the present time in Europe knows that is a futile policy because we don’t know how long it will take. Owing to the signs of the times and the economic position in England and the disputes which are imminent it is difficult to tell whether at any future time it will be possible to get back to the position before the war. If we adopt the policy of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) it will mean, at a time when it is imperative to develop this country to the utmost extent, and provide amenities for the inhabitants and do something to absorb the thousands of unemployed people in the country, that the country will be stationary, and instead of developing we shall go back, and instead of absorbing the unemployed we shall create more unemployment in the future. I hope the Minister will not listen to the counsel of despair preached by the hon. member. In submitting these loan estimates I think the House is entitled to have some indication from the Minister as to what his policy is in regard to the raising of the necessary money and I must say that the statement made by the Minister that he is not in a position this afternoon to take the House into his confidence or tell the House how he proposes to raise the money is rather startling, when he asks this House to accept the responsibility for the amount of money for which he seeks sanction. Having regard to the financial stringency to which the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has referred and I agree that it is so, I want again to press upon the Minister and the House the necessity for reconsidering our whole financial policy. There is very little good in coming along and saying that we are going to spend £14,000,000 on public works if we do not know how we are going to get the money on the one hand, and if, on the other hand, because it is difficult to get the money in England at the present time, we should say that we must, therefore, not go on with our public works. It will be imperative for this country to revise its whole outlook as to how you are going to raise the necessary money for public works. I want again to bring to the notice of the Minister the point of view which has been submitted by me before and by hon. members on these benches and which I submit is entitled to more serious consideration by the Minister than has been given to it in the past, and that is that we shall have to get away from the policy of borrowing money and paying large sums in interest and decide to finance ourselves in connection particularly with the public works which are required. Take the present case, this £14,000,000 which it is proposed to raise under the proposals now before the House. Assuming that the stringency were not such as has been indicated and we were going to the money market and were able to raise the money even at 5 per cent., it means that if we borrow the money and it is repayable over a period of 20 years, at the end of the 20 years we shall have paid the full £14,000,000 by way of interest and we shall still be owing the amount of the loan. £14.000,000. I submit that it is necessary and that the time is opportune, particularly in view of these financial conditions which prevail elsewhere, that the Minister should take seriously into consideration the proposal that has been submitted not only in this House, but everywhere and by people who do not necessarily agree with the point of view of some of us on these benches.
What is the proposal?
You wouldn’t understand it.
The proposal is that the Government should itself create the necessary credit facilities from time to time in connection with works of this character on the basis of creating a sufficient amount of credit in proportion to the work that you do from time to time, so that you will not have undue inflation, and that you should provide from the liquidation of the credit that you so create by providing for a certain sum to be withdrawn annually so that by the time the 20 years have elapsed you will have withdrawn the credit you have thus created and you will still have got your public works. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) smiles. I wonder if he has studied this question.
I really was not listening to what you were saying.
I am not sorry that the hon. member was not listening, because if he were listening he certainly would probably not be any wiser. The position under your present policy would be that even if you were able to borrow this money at 5 per cent. you would have to make provision for the payment of £700,000 a year for interest, without any reference to the provision necessary for redemption. If, on the other hand, you create the necessary credit facilities in this country, such credit facilities to have the same effect as ordinary currency, in accordance with the amount of public works you are carrying out, and you make provision for £700,000 of these credit facilities to be withdrawn annually, then you are not imposing any greater burden on the people of this country in expending the same amount of money as you would have to do under the orthodox economic policy, and you would be able to do twice the amount of development, because, instead of providing £14,000,000 in interest charges and £14,000,000 for redemption of capital, you would be able, under my proposal, without increasing your liabilities, to utilize £28,000,000 over the same period. I want to put this to the Minister and to the House very seriously. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that they are not prepared to accept the suggestion which has been put forward from this corner of the House for a number of years, I want to know what proposals the Minister is prepared with as regards raising the money. We have heard the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that his policy would be to do nothing—don’t go on with public works, don’t build additional railways, don’t absorb your unemployed, don’t do this or that, but let this country go backward, instead of going forward. That is one policy. I put this to the Minister, if he does not want to take into consideration the proposal I am making, what alternative has he got to put before this House? The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) has referred to the financial stringency which exists. Let me give the House one or two facts which some hon. members may have noticed. A few weeks ago the Johannesburg Town Council, which has a very high credit in the London market, decided to borrow £1,000,000, and the town treasurer of Johannesburg started, on the instructions of the Finance Committee, to make the necessary enquiries as to the position of the money market. The town treasurer reported to the Finance Committee as follows—
I have certain quotations here relating to the facts. New South Wales recently went to the London market to borrow £6,000,000 at 5 per cent., at a price of £96 10s. for every £100. What happened? The underwriters had to take up 68½ per cent. The London County Council wanted to raise £6,000,000 at 4½ per cent., for which the price was £94 10s. for every £100. The underwriters had to take up 75 per cent. The New Zealand Government wanted to borrow £7,000,000 at 4½ per cent. at a price of £94 10s. The New Zealand Government found that it could not get the money in the market in the ordinary course, and the underwriters had to take up 85 per cent. of the loan. On top of this we have the position in connection with Australia. The Australian Government, after consultation with Britain, required to raise £4,000,000 and they were advised by the British Government that they would have to go to America to raise the necessary money. Hon. members know perfectly well that Mr. Churchill, when he introduced his budget, decided to return to the gold standard and as a preliminary to the gold standard he found it necessary to enter into arrangements with America for financing England to an amount of £200,000,000 to help to maintain the gold standard. Over and above that the stringency has been created by the fact that money has had to be paid by England to America in liquidation of war debt, while England is not being repaid by her allies. You may take it for granted that the position to-day, and for years to come, will be that there is only one place where, under ordinary circumstances, money will be obtainable, that is, New York. As more and more demands are made on New York by European countries, then in accordance with the holy gospel of supply and demand which the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) so eloquently preaches, money will become dearer and dearer, so far as we are concerned, or any borrower is concerned. It becomes imperative for us to consider whether we shall go on the lines of the financial policy pursued in the past, or whether the principles submitted from time to time from this side are not principles that require very serious consideration. We have heard a great deal in the past about the desirability of making South Africa economically independent. I believe all sides are agreed upon the need for this. And now with Europe economically tottering we will be forced to become economically independent. I want to ask the Minister what provision he has made, what Minister what provision he has made, what policy he is enunciating, in order to make South Africa independent economically. I want to say this to the Minister, and the House, that unless we are prepared to accept the suggestion thrown out from time to time from this side, for financing public requirements, then I say the time is long overdue for appointing some committee of people who are directly interested in, seeing the development of South Africa, to enquire into the position and to not only lay down a policy for the development of this country, but some policy for financing the public works of South Africa. It is more imperative, at the present moment, that we should appoint some committee to investigate a policy for the development of the country, and for financing that development, than it is to appoint committees to investigate conditions of labour necessary though such investigations are. I hope hon. members will acquit me of putting this suggestion forward with any idea of simply creating another committee or commission.
If the Minister of Finance were to say he would follow the proposals of the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) it would be impossible to get any money at all. The shock to our credit which would result from proposals of that kind would effectively close every market in the world against us.
They are closed now.
The hon. member says they are closed now. That is not the case. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) did not indicate that at all. It is obvious that this country has in the main good credit. I do not know whether it is improved, because of some of the measures we have passed this session; but it is quite obvious that even in London to-day we can obtain money if we pay for it.
Of course, it is also possible to obtain money in America. If we do go there to get money we shall inevitably have to pay a good deal more for it. In England we have had in the past very considerable advantages. For many years past our loans, in common with those of the other dominions, have been termed trustee securities, and that has enabled us to borrow money on much more favourable terms than most foreign nations. Of late we have had another advantage, because actually for some little time past the London money market has been closed to all foreign loans, except some few loans of a very special character. Of course, that has eased the position for dominion loans.
I do not think the hon. member quite appreciates the amount that has been borrowed. During 1924 the total amount borrowed in fresh money by the Australian and New Zealand Dominions altogether amounted to over £45,000,000, quite apart from the total of £30,733,000 issued for conversion purposes by certain of the Australian States Governments. And this further borrowing of £37,981,000 was for Australia, and £7,870,000 for New Zealand. That shows the extent to which the London market has been drawn upon, and we have also to remember that, owing to the rapid return to gold which has been made, the British Government have had to make special arrangements, and these arrangements render it necessary that special care should be exercised in the amount of borrowing allowed on the London market. There is no reason to imagine that the position will not improve. I think it will improve. I do not agree with the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) that everything in Europe is going to perdition. No doubt things are bad. But the world has been through crises before; but if only people of the political persuasion of my hon. friend will lay less stress on confiscatory and spoliatory doctrines, the world will recover. There is no royal road to recovery. It has to come by encouraging saving, by hard work, and by accumulation of assets. It is no use for hon. members to say that we should render this country financially independent of the rest of the world. In our time it will never be financially independent and it would not be good for us to try to make it so. If we tried the crack-brain expedients of the hon. member for Troyeville, the result would be that the development of the country would be retarded indefinitely. The point is this: I sympathize with the Minister; but naturally, we should all like to know the state of affairs and how the negotiations are likely to turn out. I quite appreciate the fact that, in these difficult circumstances, he cannot give us this information, and I do not think it would be reasonable to press him to do so. But the point of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) is this, that in these difficult circumstances, we should be careful not to borrow a penny more than is absolutely necessary. Of course, when it is a Question of spending money, there are always different opinions as to what is necessary and what is advisable, and the hon. member for Troyeville has suggested that there should be a committee to decide upon the best method of financing. But we, in this House, are a very good committee, and when these separate heads come under review we will probably furnish the Minister with a good deal of information. I do not think we can go further than say that, if the criticism shows that there are certain items that can be safely eliminated or delayed for a time, I hope he will accept that advice and limit our borrowings to-day to the smallest amount consistent with absolute necessity.
I do not know why hon. members on the other side always sneer at the financial policy of the hon. member for Troyeville. The hon. member has been chairman of the Johannesburg Finance Committee for many years and has done particularly well in that position. He probably knows more about financial policy than hon. gentlemen on the other side. We admit their point of view is different, but there is no need to sneer. The policy just laid down by him is a policy laid down by many men throughout the world who are not members of the Labour Party. It is a new policy. It may be wrong or it may be right; but it is quite certain that the other policy has failed. It is easy for hon. members to get up in this House and to say all is well in the State of Denmark, but is it? Can we raise this money in England? The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) raised this point, and I respect his opinions. I think it should be brought to the notice of the Government, from both sides, as to what is going to be done. The hon. member says let us stop our work. Naturally we will vote against that as it means more unemployment, but we have to take stock of the position. What is the position in England where we have always borrowed our money. England is on the verge of a revolution. There is no getting away from that. If the Triple Alliance works as it probably will work four million men will be on the streets, and if that happens there will be a revolution in England. You cannot borrow money in England when things are as bad as that. In the second place I want to take up the position of the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) which shows how serious the whole position of the British Empire is to-day. He says the heart has been cut out of the Empire and he is right. The British Empire has never stood in such a bad position as to-day. It may break up. I will quote what the hon. member for Standerton said, and it affects our credit more than anything ever wired from this country. The right hon. member is a man whose counsel stands high with the people of Great Britain. This is what he said—
That means that if the British Government within the next few weeks or the next few months agrees with that security pact some of her dominions may leave her because Europe is breaking up. There is no doubt about that. The right hon. member stated some time ago that the whole of the future was with the new world, not with the old world. This is not a party question, but I think that affects the credit and the future of this country. I asked the hon. member for Standerton whether it does not affect the credit of this country, because we have to go to England to borrow. We are tied not only by silken cords, but by trade and money. There is no doubt that for the next five or six years we shall not be able to borrow in England. Nobody who studies what is going on in the world to-day will deny that fact. Therefore, we shall have to go to America, and America does not know us. Millions of people in America do not know we exist as a Union and our credit is not good there. We should work on our own internal credit. We should have had a State bank here before to-day. That is where we disagree.
Although they may not have heard of the Union they must have heard of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow).
I am surprised that a member of the front bench should make an absolute clown of himself. This is far too serious for these harlequin tricks. Let us work on our own internal credit through a State bank. The Minister of Finance should tell us where he is going to get the money from before we vote it. We know it is impossible to get it from England, and therefore we shall have to go to New York. I am making this speech in a serious way, because of the telegrams sent overseas by the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) about the security pact. I agree with every word he says; we may have to consider our position in South Africa. I am not a member of the Republican party, but we may have to consider whether we are going to remain in the Empire; we may have to consider our position, whether we are going to be dragged by the heels into European wars, and it all affects the credit of this country. I would like the right hon. member for Standerton to get up and say whether South Africa will not have to consider her position in regard to the security pact. He sent that telegram without being asked to send it; let him say whether South Africa will not have to consider her position in the empire: let him say “yes” or “no,” because these telegrams are doing harm to our country and to our credit. If we have to go overseas the policy laid down by the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) is the correct one.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) thinks that a telegram I recently sent to an English paper may have the effect of damaging our credit. I should say that if the people in England and in Europe and this country were to attach the least importance to speeches such as we have heard from the Labour benches this afternoon, our credit will be far more damaged. Nothing that I have said in that telegram can possibly damage our credit or damage the British Empire in any way whatever. I was very much astonished that the hon. member, with my telegram in his hand, did not even read it correctly.
He scarcely even read it.
The right hon. member is attacking my honour by saying that I never read his telegram. That is the worst attack you can make on a man, to say that he misquotes. I ask him either to substantiate or withdraw.
The hon. member read from that statement that I had said that the heart had been cut out of the empire.
Cut from out of the empire.
Read the sentence.
I read the last words.
That is just what I am complaining of. The hon. member takes a few words out of the context which explains the position, and then he makes out that that is what I have said. No. What I said was not a statement of facts, but a statement of very grave warning, and it is this—
It is no use distorting this. Negotiations are going on in Europe for a security pact and my word of warning is this. If British statesmen at this stage dissociate themselves from the dominions and enter into a security pact on their own they will introduce a wedge into the Empire, and they may find that as a result they cut the heart out of the Empire.
What do you suggest you should do then?
It is agreed that this country can determine its own policy under the circumstances, and I have said in this telegram that in my opinion several dominions are not likely to adhere to the security pact, and the result will therefore be a divergence of policies in the Empire. The hon. member seems to infer from that, that that means a break up of the British Empire. It does not mean that at all.
You are hedging.
No. Where several constituent parts of the empire follow a policy of their own an element of difference and confusion is introduced, which, in the end, may have very bad results.
What bad results?
I don’t think we can discuss the security pact on this motion. I have allowed the right hon. gentleman to reply to the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), but I don’t think the whole of the question can be discussed.
Nor am I going to discuss it. I wish just to reply to the statement of the hon. member that in what I have said I was damaging the credit of this country. What I have said is intended to support the credit of this country and the empire. Let me add this. I very strongly support what has fallen from the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that the Government ought to very seriously consider the loan programme which they have put before us in the light of the statement which has fallen from the Minister of Finance. He ended his statement with the declaration that he was negotiating for the raising of the necessary funds, but it was not in the public interest that he should say with what measure of success or how the loan would be raised. That we fully understand. The difficulties are great. His statement points to this, what every member of the House knows, that there are going to be great difficulties in raising this money. Statements in the press and the experience of other dirainions are a clear indication of the difficulties which are going to arise if the Government puts this programme through. It is not a case of printing paper, as is suggested by the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentledge ) who, I thought, was referring to his own previous advice given to the country, that we should print paper. If he has now some other scheme he has not made it clear. The hon. member has tried to make it clear that we can eat our cake and have it too. That does not apply to finance. In finance you cannot have it both ways. If we have to borrow money it will have to be paid for by work and not by printing paper. The Government are in the difficulty of coming forward with a large loan programme without knowing where they are going to find the money. Instead of becoming more cautious the Minister says another half million has to be added to the programme. That is an astonishing step. I should have thought by the statements made by hon. members opposite during the general election that they meant what they said and that they would do their best to curtail loan expenditure and avoid any increase of the public debt as much as possible. There is nothing that we heard more consistently during the election than the charge that our public debt had gone up to 208 millions. What is the position to-day? Last year the Government carried through a loan programme of 11½ millions. This year a programme of over 14 millions is brought before us. In the very short time this Government has been in power over 25 millions have been added to the public debt of the country. If we could find the money easily and cheaply, and it could be properly spent in the development of the country, something might be said in favour of the policy, but we find the position is the contrary. This sum of money is to be raised at a time when the poor finance Minister does not know where to find the money. There is only one policy open to the Government, and that is to stand by their pledges at the general election and to add as little as possible to the public debt by curtailing their programme. If the Minister succeeds in finding this money he will have to pay a high rate of interest and a rate that will make the programme unremunerative to the country, and not in the interests of the country. The British Government, by a heroic effort, has gone back to the gold standard, but it means a tremendous effort in Great Britain which few people appreciate in this country. For us in South Africa it was comparatively easy, because for some time the rate of exchange was such that we could do it. Great Britain, in reverting to gold, had to take a heroic measure, and one that was not approved of by large sections of the financial world. They have done it because they thought it was in the interest of settled conditions and, eventually, of economic recovery. The step they have taken means that for some time there will be the greatest financial stringency. They have been our borrowing market. London has been our money market and we shall continue to go to London. Australia departed from this rule, and one of the Australian states has become doubtful about the policy of going to New York. They know how much more expensive it is, and that conditions will be attached to New York loans which London would not impose. We shall find the same. If the Minister goes to New York he will find the money expensive and conditions will be attached which will be awkward for us to carry out. He will find a further difficulty, and that is in knowing how to pay the loans in New York. Our loans borrowed in London we pay through our produce which goes almost entirely to the British market. Eighty per cent. of the trade of this country is for Great Britain, and the loans we raise there are paid for by the produce exported from this country.
Our diamonds would cover it.
We do not export to New York. London is the clearing house of the world and the Minister of Finance will find out, if he borrows in New York, that quite a different exchange problem will be raised for this country. We pay in London through produce, but we cannot pay in New York through produce which does not go to America, and the exchange question will, therefore, add considerably to the difficulties of any such loan. I would strongly impress upon the Government to go slowly. The position in Great Britain is difficult, and I don’t think it has been made any easier by the legislation of this session. I do not want to raise matters of controversy, but we have passed Bills through the House this session, the Diamond Control Bill, the preference policy which the Government adopted, and a number of other measures which have not procured for us special sympathy in the London market. Money is the most sensitive thing in the world, credit is most sensitive, and the policies upon which we have light-heartedly embarked this session will not help us in the countries where we have to borrow. Under the circumstances let us be cautious and go slowly. It is no use embarking on big programmes when we cannot raise the money. It is no use printing paper. I do not think the Minister will follow the policy sketched out by the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge). It is better to go slow and not to increase our public debt at a time when we can only do so by breaking pledges given at the general election, and at very heavy expense to the country.
What I want to know is how the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) knows that the Minister of Finance is not going to take any notice of the suggestion of my hon. friend the member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) in this respect. Does the hon. member for Standerton think that the Fact, members are absolutely regardless of their pledges? If I remember correctly—and I have a very vivid recollection of the fact—at all stages Pact representatives during the election pledged themselves in part, at all events, to this method of finance. They certainly advocated, and advocated most strongly, the institution of a State bank. I want to know how it is that the hon. member for Standerton obtains the impression that the Minister of Finance is going to take no notice of the advocacy of that portion of our new finance methods. Another question I would ask the hon. member for Standerton, if he will be good enough to reply, is: What is his solution of the difficulty? He said, quite rightly, we will find it exceedingly difficult to borrow money. I am not an advocate of borrowing money. That is not my method of State finance. I find myself very much attuned in sympathy with the hon. member for Troyeville in his method of raising State finance. I do not agree that borrowing is the only way in which you can finance the State, especially external borrowing. The hon. member for Standerton is perfectly correct when he says it is exceedingly difficult to borrow money in any of the world’s markets to-day. It is practically impossible, as has been pointed out by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), to borrow money in the London market. The hon. member for Standerton comes along and supplements that by saying not only is it impossible to borrow money in London, but it is exceedingly difficult to borrow it in New York, and if you do borrow it in New York, you are going to be confronted with all sorts of new difficulties, matters of exchange, and the adoption of new methods of repayment. For instance, he says we have generally paid for our loans by sending our goods to London, where we have borrowed in the past. My hon. friend over there (Mr. Barlow) ventured to interject: “What about diamonds?” The hon. member for Standerton said that diamonds had to go through the channels via London. But the fact remains that these diamonds ultimately come to rest in America, and the American people pay for those diamonds, and surely it is not beyond the powers of the brilliant financial brains we possess to make some arrangement whereby those diamonds will, in part, repay any loans we may raise in America. What I want to ask the hon. member for Standerton, as leader of the Opposition, in view of the difficulties he has presented to the House, is what is the policy of the South African party regarding this matter? Does he, on behalf of his party, advocate that South Africa shall sit down, shall not progress, shall not go in for any further development? If he will answer that question, I will be prepared to sit down and let him do so. If the hon. member does not care to answer it directly, will be please authorize one of those members who sit behind him to get up and, on his behalf, make the statement? They have gone all round the subject, they have pointed out the difficulty, they have suggested the advisability of our going carefully and slowly, but they have not said straight out what they do intend the policy of this country should be from the point of view of the South African party. With regard to the finance methods adopted in the past, it has always got to be remembered that South Africa has been run by the South African party for the last fifteen years. We are now only taking over the bad old methods, and here I want to say that, while I strongly advocate the policy adumbrated by the hon. member’ for Troyeville, I still realize that it will be very difficult to change the bad old method into the good new method in five minutes.
What is the good new method?
My hon. friend, no doubt, will be quite prepared to start a kindergarten class in finance. The hon. member for Standerton understands it, and that was very evident when he deliberately misrepresented it just now.
Is the hon. member (Mr. Madeley) entitled to accuse the hon. member for Standerton of deliberate misrepresentation?
Did the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) accuse the hon. member for Standerton of deliberate misrepresentation?
I did, sir.
The hon. member must withdraw that.
I withdraw, but I say this: That the hon. member for Standerton misrepresented what my hon. friend (Mr. Kentridge) was preaching here in this House, he misrepresented it because he knew what the hon. member was saying, and he did not absolutely give the right impression of what my hon. friend was saying. It was pretty evident by reason of this fact, that he accused my hon. friend of advocating turning the printing press handle. If that was not misrepresentation, I call on every fair-minded man on the South African party side to say whether that was not exactly what my hon. friend did not say. The turning of the printing press handle has been the refuge of the capitalistic countries and the capitalistic systems of national finance. Never yet has it been introduced by a socialist Government. There has only been one socialist Government in power anywhere, and that is in Russia, and they did not do that. They were the first people in the national financial world in Europe to return to the gold standard, and they deliberately did it of their own free will. So the accusation that my hon. friend is desirous of turning the printing press handle is untrue; it misrepresents the position, and the hon. member knew quite well that he was misrepresenting it.
The hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) is, in effect, saying what he withdrew just now. He must withdraw that.
I withdraw that. All I can say is that the hon. member for Standerton erred in ignorance. I want to ask the right hon. member for Standerton, who is now fulminating against these loan estimates, what has been the policy of his Government in the past? Nothing more or less than turning the printing press handle. What do you do when you borrow money? You do precisely what my hon. friend is suggesting we should do, only what he suggests is on a much sounder and safer basis. We anticipate the productivity of our own country. We do not go to people and ask them to lend us their money; we very foolishly go where people collate money, so to speak, and in effect what they are doing is largely lending us our own money and our own credit, and it is based upon the anticipated productivity of the country. That is all we are asking you to do by the method my hon. friend is advocating this afternoon. Institute your State bank, which will have all the financial arrangements in its grip and all the facilities for raising money for development purposes in the country. It would be run in the interests of the people of the country, and not in the interests of big financiers. They, in turn, will issue the necessary credit notes to the amount of currency required for the development of the country based upon the production of the country for ensuing years. Is it not simple? One of the things we have the right to quarrel with is this peculiar outlook of some people who do not understand a question when it is put before them, and they laugh and sneer at the suggestion, which, in the first place, they do not understand, or if they do understand it that is their method of trying to kill it. That is the attitude that was adopted when I made that remark—merely a vacuous laugh on the part of certain members. Is that fair? They think it is smart, but it is not. More and more, all over the world, it is being forced upon people who think about this question that this is the only course to be pursued.
But you forced them all out.
That may be; but there again that is not worthy of the hon. gentleman, and it is not even a score. I understood from the almost pompous manner of the right hon. member for Standerton that he viewed this as being of outstanding importance. It is surely not fair for hon. members who are supposed to take a leading capacity in that party to be doing nothing, but sneering and jeering. I want to urge that upon the attention of the right hon. member. It is unworthy of those hon. members. Either it is important or it is not. If it is important, then when opinions are expressed by men who are trying to think out the subject, it is the business of the House to listen to those opinions.
Well, they are giving you a very good hearing.
I am glad the right hon. gentleman is doing so. I do not want to draw upon me the wrath of the Speaker, but I doubt his sincerity. Can those hon. members or any members argue that the system of national finance that has been employed in the past has been a success? My hon. friend said the whole financial world is tottering. It is perfectly true, simply because it has proved itself to be a failure. Here, to some extent, I must agree with the right hon. member for Standerton, that it is not wise to build our national industry, our national development, upon borrowed money. A system of finance which here, in a young country, places us in the position of having to pay in interest alone no less than £9,394,680 cannot be classified as an unqualified success. You cannot call it successful finance. My hon. friend’s suggestion would be successful finance.
He wanted to repudiate the debt.
No; I do not want to incur it.
There again, Mr. Speaker, is misrepresentation. I never heard my hon. friend suggest for one moment anything of the kind.
Not to-day, but he did previously.
What is my hon. friend referring to?
I will prove it.
The hon. member can prove anything—to his own satisfaction. What I am arguing is this, that two misrepresentations have taken place this afternoon. One is that my hon. friend’s system of finance is simply turning the printing press handle, and the other is that he suggested we should repudiate our indebtedness. Nothing of the sort. All we say is from now on you should begin to create credit, in the words of the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin) that we should work for our money. You have to anticipate it, but we have proved that to raise money which is not only a capital indebtedness, but an interest indebtedness as well as a fallacy and a danger. We have on the estimates every year a growing amount of dead money to be repaid as interest out of revenue. The time must inevitably arrive when this mounting up will be so great, not only in South Africa, but all over the world, that the whole structure must inevitably collapse, because the peoples of the world will not be able to produce enough to pay the interest on the capital amounts they owe. That is a serious thought. It should also turn the attention of hon. members not in the direction of trying to make cheap scores off members who are suggesting a new method of finance, but in the direction of examining the principles that are being put forward, and say whether they are good or whether they are bad I am asking this House to remember that it is the representative body of the nation, and that they should not be using this House and their opportunities in the direction of bolstering up a financial system which is an enormous gain to a few individuals, but which puts the whole mass of the population down into the gutter. They should rather turn their attention seriously and calmly, and all the time to discussing a system which will enable the country to go ahead, and release the people from bondage, rather than put them further into it.
The hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) challenged me to prove the assertion I made that the hon. member for Troyeville had suggested the repudiation of the national debt. I observe that the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) is one of the fleeting members who have just departed hurriedly from the House. He probably knows what is coming. In dealing with the question of the national debt in this House on the 22nd April last—I shall not follow his example and misquote—he said—
We can only take it that he was submitting these facts for the consideration of the Minister with a view to their adoption. The hon. member continued—
If that is not a suggestion that we should repudiate £17,500,000 of our national debt, I should like to know what it is. Short of actually recommending that we should forthwith repudiate that debt, it is a request to the Minister to consider the hon. member’s “facts” when he decides upon a policy of debt redemption, and if the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) wants to know why the suggestions for financial conjuring of the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) usually receive the derision they merit in this House, he need go no further than the speech of the hon. member for Troyeville of the 22nd April for a good and sufficient reason.
Before the motion is put, I should just like to say a few words in regard to the points of view put forward by some hon. members. In regard to the suggestion of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) and the right hon. member for Standerton, that in view of the seriousness of the position, we should go slow, I have admitted the seriousness of the position, and I have no fault to find with that, but I think that the hon. members really want us to go very much further than is absolutely necessary. I would like to point out that, although this expenditure is admittedly high, it consists of very few new commitments of the existing Government. The major portion is in connection with previous commitments of the old Government, and I do not think the House would like the Government, under these circumstances, practically to put a stop to very large undertakings which are at present in progress. The right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts), I think, pointed to our large loan programme last year. In that case, too, we had to do with very large commitments of the previous Government, and surely it is not suggested that we should to-day practically put a stop to our land settlement, for instance, and refuse our farmers the assistance they have in the past been accustomed to get from the Land Bank, and not go on with absolutely necessary railway construction, and should put aside our large schemes of railway electrification initiated by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). I made very strong representations to my colleague to cut that out as regards Cape Town, but he said he was sorry they had gone too far and could not do that now. That is the position in nearly every instance. Take the electricity commission. Must we say: “Leave these schemes aside”? That was initiated by the previous Government. If the hon. members will examine the position, as we will do in committee, they will see it will be wholly impracticable to carry out the suggestion of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that we should confine our expenditure to the moneys we have in hand and may be able to borrow in this country. We might succeed in cutting out a public building here and there, but that does not come to much. The House will find it as difficult as the Government found it to cut down further than we have done. Although we admit and fully appreciate that where the position is as it is now, we probably will have to pay more for our money than in the past, and that we should go slow, I do not think the House would ultimately adopt the suggestion that we should practically cut down these estimates by half or put a stop to these necessary public undertakings. A few hon. members have expressed disappointment that I have not informed the House how I am going to raise this money and have not given any details. An hon. member has said that I have not disclosed my policy as to how I was going to get hold of the money. I am going to borrow it, if we have not got it ourselves. The hon. member for Troyeville has a scheme of his own, but the country has not accepted that scheme, and we will have to finance our requirements in the ordinary way. Although the position may be serious, it is not so desperate as hon. members want to make out, and we shall get the money. If the House considers that we should go in for these undertakings, that it is in the public interest to do so, the Treasury will find the money; although we will, perhaps, have to pay a little more than in the past for the accommodation we get. Under these circumstances, I hope the House will see that it would be a mistake if we decided at this stage, where the works have been in progress to such an extent as they have, and where the Government is proposing the extension of existing works or other services, it would be regrettable, and not in the public interest, if the House decided that we should not pass this programme, which is a very modest loan programme. I now move that the estimates of expenditure to be defrayed from loan funds during the year ending 31st March, 1926, be referred to Committee of Supply.
Motion put and agreed to.
The Minister of Finance announced that his Excellency the Governor-General, having been informed of the following amendment to the estimates of expenditure from loan funds, 1925-’26 [U.G. 32—’25] recommends the appropriation therein contemplated to the consideration of the House.
Loan Vote A, Railways and Harbours, (page 2).
To increase the provision for 1925-’26 from £6,600,000 to £7,100,000 with consequential amendments in the abstract of the estimates.
Amendment referred to Committee of Supply.
First Order read: House to go into committee on the Death Duties Act, 1922, Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 2.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 9,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 11,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 12,
At present the commissioner merely signs his consent on the document, but now the Minister requires that a special certificate should be given. Each time such a change is made the cost will go up, for no one will get a certificate without making a charge.
This merely extends the cases where this certificate will be required. There will not be a change in the procedure. At present the certificate is only required in the case of a grant or a transfer of property, but under the Bill it will be extended to any endorsement made in the Deeds Office regarding changes of title.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 13,
The object of the proviso is to ensure that the increase of death duties, as applied under the schedule, shall not apply to agricultural land, but that duties on agricultural land shall remain as they are under the existing schedule of the principal Act. My reason for that is that agricultural land has a special claim to consideration in this matter. In this country to-day there is a great drift of people to the towns, and there is a large amount of unemployment in the country, and the country is put to great expense in trying to cope with this unemployment. We have £300,000 on the estimates to try and cope with the unemployment, and in the loan estimates there is £200,000 to be advanced to tenant farmers under the scheme of the Minister of Labour. That amount is included in the portion of loan expenditure which the Minister thinks will be interest bearing. I have considerable doubt on that. It follows the greater the duty you put on agricultural land, and the more estates are crippled when the owner dies, the less the subsequent owner is able to provide money to provide employment for the people for whom we are now trying to find employment. We are spending on the one hand large monies to settle people on the land, and here we are putting a burden on the owners of land which will counteract the object we have in view. There are plenty of piecedents for this proposal, because a similar amendment was moved in the British House of Commons a few weeks ago, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer accepted the amendment, and there were only two objections raised against it. One was made by Labour members on the ground that landowners did not need any relief, and the other was by Mr. Lloyd George, who said it was no use bringing forward a measure for relief of landed estates, because their position had become so hopeless and the damage done was so irretrievable that it was no use trying to help them. We have not got to that position yet in South Africa. I admit the death duties are not as heavy as they are in England, but with the exception of the extremists on the cross benches I don’t think anyone wants to see the element of stability represented by the landowning class reduced to destruction. I have so worded my amendment to provide that it will not apply to land held for speculation or building purposes. It will be considered as if the land in question was subject to perpetual agreement that it was not to be used for anything, but agricultural or pastoral purposes. I only intend the relief to be granted to bona fide pastoral land, or land used for agricultural purposes. I do not know that hon. members opposite take much interest in this. They play in the billiard-rooms regardless of the doom that is coming to the interests they represent. We try to save them from some of the consequences they neglect. I think land does deserve special consideration because it is obvious a landowner has very little cash, and it is not easy, when the owner dies, to find the money necessary to pay the duties, and at the same time to carry on the development of the properties and to become the potential finders of work for the people we are trying to get employment for. I do not think it need really upset the budget arrangements, because the land proposed to be relieved, if the amendment is adopted, can hardly be a serious matter from the point of view of the Treasury, however serious it might be for the landowner.
I support the amendment, and hope the Minister will see his way to accept it. I wish to appeal to hon. members opposite who represent farming interests, to see the justice of this amendment. It must appeal to them, because they, as well as others, realize the importance of the landed proprietors. Men on the farms are doing a big work in the development of the country, and a handicap of this kind will be a very serious drawback to them in their work of development. It will be a check on the development of this country, which we realize is so important and necessary. We hear a great deal about the backbone of the country. That backbone is doing a bigger work than many people realize, and I hope the House will appreciate the necessity of considering the position of the landed proprietor in this matter. Heavy estate duties are going to be a big check to farmers who spend their lives in developing their properties, which, when coming under the operation of the estate duties, will require a great sum of money to be paid out by men who are not in a position at the time to pay the estate duties I hope the House will see the necessity of accepting the amendment.
I have great pleasure in supporting the amendment of the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin). A wrong impression has always prevailed about the succession duty. It was thought that the possessions of a man usually consisted of gold, bank balances and other securities which could easily be realized, but as a rule the possessions of a man are represented by a business and land. Now the hon. member for South Peninsula asks the Minister to be so good as to leave the landed population under the old scale because the scale which we are now considering under section 13 makes the scale much higher than the old scale was, as from a certain stage. The hon. member asks him to retain the old scale as regards the landed population excluding land which is held for speculation. But he proposes that ground merely for farming and cattle breeding should remain under the old scale. I think the landed population are the stable people and these are the people that we should try to keep on the land. The landed population, the people who live on the land, are actually the people in whose hands the future of the country lies. The hon. member for South Peninsula does not ask a great favour for that class of tax payer. I think that if the Minister will look into the matter he will find that it will not make a great difference, but as I already indicated yesterday—I think hon. members representing the country side will agree with me—the possessions of the country people consist entirely of ground and some times valuable ground, and upon death many of the estates will come under the higher scale which the Minister has made fairly stiff, and considerably more onerous than the existing scale. For this reason I hope that the Minister will accept the proposal of the hon. member for South Peninsula.
It is really pathetic to see the anxiety of hon. members opposite for the farmer and the landed proprietor in connection with this sort of taxation. I do not want to discuss the merits, the principle, of the amendment, I only wish to point out that in the form in which it is drafted by the hon. member it is absolutely impossible to consider it even.
I am afraid it won’t help the position even if it is amended. The hon. member wants to introduce the principle of valuing property as if the condition is attached to it that it will be perpetually used only for agricultural or farming purposes. I am afraid that, with our already imperfect system of valuation in this country, that is going to create so many anomalies that it will make the position impossible. There are other difficulties. Under the schedule here we have the block system in certain categories. Take an estate of £50,000, you have certain blocks up to £25,000 and it proceeds further. To which block would an agricultural estate belong? Have you got an estate with agricultural assets and other assets? Which part would fall into the block subject to the lesser duty, or is it the intention of the hon. member to treat it as two separate estates? Every portion of an estate is subject to the block within which it falls. Then the second part, the balance of the estate, would escape being taxed in the higher category as it will be if the estate is taken as a whole. The principal objection, if this reduction is made, is that it is going to affect the Budget. The hon. member wants to introduce an amendment which will upset the whole budget scheme, especially in this country where we have not so many rich people who would come into the net. They are your ordinary small landed proprietors. For these reasons I regret that I cannot accept the amendment.
I want to put it to the Minister that in practice it will not be difficult to make the distinction. The Minister must not throw a sneer at those of us who represent country constituencies if we get up here and speak on behalf of our constituents. When we are taxing people, I think the Minister must bear with us if we try to make the burden as bearable as possible. I would point out to the Minister that, in working out an estate, you can easily have the landed property valued under the old schedule and the other assets under the new schedule. I do not think there will be any great difficulty in the matter of valuations in practice.
Where should the landed property come in?
The Master will easily overcome that difficulty. The Minister need not raise that as a grave difficulty.
Take the amendment and tell me under which block will the agricultural part of the estate come.
I am only speaking now of the estate as a whole. When the Master has got to assess the amount you have got to pay he will treat the landed property on a different scale from what he treats the other property. In practice I do not think there will be any difficulty. I think the Minister ought to accord this proposal a little more sympathy than he has bestowed upon it.
I am sure both sides of the House are in sympathy with the object aimed at by the amendment of the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin). I remember, when this subject was under discussion four years ago, how the then Opposition got up and declaimed against the injustice of Mr. Burton’s measure. Since then it has been the subject of discussion at various congresses. I know there are members on the opposite side to whom this method of taxation is unpopular. It is most undesirable, surely, that at a time when the head of the family has been cut off and when an estate is being wound up, and when everything is in confusion and many calls and claims are being made upon it, that the Government should saddle the survivor with still further liabilities. We know of instances where it has been necessary to break up estates which it should have been the object of the Government to maintain in order to meet the various claims which came upon it at a time when the survivor or executor is at his wits’ end to meet the other ordinary demands which are made. For the Government then to come on an estate with further demands, is, I think, against the interests of the country. I am opposed to the whole principle of this method of taxation.
Why did you vote for it under the old Government?
I was opposed to it then. As I have said, your party opposed it most strenuously at that time and now you are supporting a still more drastic measure. I am quite sure that in the protest I am uttering I have the sympathy of a large number of members on both sides of the House. Many feel that they would rather during their lifetime prefer to pay such duties as are incumbent upon the estate than leave it to their children to do at a time when they are, perhaps, not in a position to do so.
I must say that I am very much disappointed. I thought that the Minister would see the fairness of the amendment and would accept it. I was glad to see the amendment on the Order Paper, because during the last recess and the one before that I often heard that people were finding the estate duty onerous, especially as they had to pay cash on landed property. The tax was heavy then, and now it is made still heavier. I thought that we should have the support of my hon. friends opposite. I know what a fuss they made when we altered the succession duties into an estate duty. It has pressed more heavily than we thought, and they were at that time against the tax.
We told you so at the time.
Yes, you were against it then. The tax has, however, pressed more heavily than we thought, and we then said that we must not make the tax heavier. Now by this amendment we do not wish to make it heavier, but my friends opposite are poking fun at it. I can understand that we are turning against the tax now that we find it presses more heavily than we thought. But I cannot understand how my hon. friends opposite can now favour making it heavier seeing that they at that time thought that it would press heavily. I hope that the hon. Minister of Finance will reconsider the amendment and that he will make this concession. He says that it is not practical. I think, however, that we should do something if we think that thereby we can reduce the burden of the taxpayers.
I really do not understand hon. members opposite, especially the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw). I do not know when since the election they changed their minds. At that time they did not say that this tax pressed so heavily on the people. They Kept silent about it. We are making a great reduction in the tax that they imposed because many of the farmers will now not even come under it. The man who has to pay more is the very wealthy man who leaves an estate worth more than £30,000. He can pay to the State which requires the money for good purposes. I do not know whether they want to make political capital out of this matter or whether they are not possibly pleading for a few of their rich friends opposite. They cannot prove that our farmers will be injured by the present alteration in the tax. The Minister has so arranged the matter that the very wealthy man is hit.
It is really amusing to hear the hon. gentlemen opposite arguing against the principle of this tax, seeing that a few years ago they had neither heart nor ears for anything against it. The hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) says that they did not know that the tax would press so heavily. We told them so. Now they come here and say that we will not assist them in preventing the tax being made more onerous. The Minister has, on the contrary, gone very far in meeting the people. I did not expect that he would have gone so far all at once. I admit that the estate duty is an onerous tax, but the man who needs help is assisted by the Minister by means of the exemption. The Minister has gone still further and has excluded the usufruct, something which was a cancer in connection with this matter. Now hon. members come and say that we are increasing the tax. The position we are in was caused by the previous Government. They accumulated the public debt and now they are laughing here about it. Will they deny that they are the cause of the enormous public debt? The old S.A.P. is responsible for it, and this tax is one of the legacies we have inherited. The principle was laid down by them, and although we do not love it, the Government cannot alter it immediately. In the circumstances we are thankful that the Minister of Finance has gone so far as to exempt small estates and also the usufruct, because it was there that it pressed heavily. I hope the Minister will abolish the estate duty as soon as the circumstances of the country permit it. We feel, however, that it is impossible to do it immediately. The Minister is showing a good spirit, and we may hope that the whole tax will later disappear.
I would like to point out this fact to the Minister. What I fear is that increasing the rate of these estate duties will mean that large farms on which money and energy have been spent, and which men have spent their whole lives to build up, that there will be a tendency for the owners to cut them up into smaller farms. Under the Roman-Dutch law the sub-division of property has done more harm to the farming community in South Africa than many of us realize. It has been a sad sight to me to see magnificent properties built up for generations sub-divided and sub-divided until people cannot make a living and become poor-whites and trek into the towns. It is largely as a result of this division of property that we see so many whites trekking into the towns. I fear these duties will mean that farmers will be reluctant to develop large farms, which are a credit to the country and to the districts, and they will sub-divide their property so as to avoid the heavy estate duty.
I do not think the hon. member has pointed out how this amendment is going to prevent the subdivision of farms. The whole thing is pure camouflage. What the amendment says is that you should merely adopt a certain basis of valuation, and I must confess I do not quite see what the proper effect of that is going to be. What does the hon. member mean? On what basis must the valuer go to work, assuming this amendment was accepted? The whole thing will not prevent a sub-division of property, as the hon. member for Queenstown (Mr. Moffat) thinks. If the hon. member wants to cut out agricultural land altogether, the revenue cannot afford that at present. The whole clause is impracticable and if the hon. member does not mean that, then the whole thing is a subterfuge and camouflage.
I think the Minister is rather intolerant. What I want is to get the House to agree that agricultural land should not be further taxed in this respect than it is at present. Hon. members opposite seem to indicate that they hope it will be. I think it is a bad policy, and I am surprised that it was acquiesced in so tamely. The Minister says the amendment is not workable, but I cannot see that. It seems to me that as it is to-day, when a man dies his estate has to be valued, and the farm has to be valued. There are different kinds of property that have to be valued, and surely it is possible for the person who makes up the total valuation to make an allowance proportionate to the reduced amount that would be leviable in respect of land as compared with the amount that would be leviable in respect of other property. If the Minister will accept my principle, I am content to withdraw the amendment and accept any wording he likes to put in, which will embody the same principle; but it does not meet the point to say that it is mere camouflage. The object of paragraph (b) is, as I said, to make certain that the consideration which it is suggested should be given to bona fide agricultural land, should not be given to land which is held for the purpose of speculation or land with a building value. My reason for making the suggestion is that I consider this form of taxation presses more hardly on the owner of agricultural land than on anybody else, and by burdening this land you will defeat the very objects of the lengthy discussions we have had in this House, on the question of how to prevent people drifting from the towns into the land. I think it is a moderate proposal to make; much more moderate than the resolution passed by the House of Commons in England.
I quite agree with the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) in hoping that the time will soon come when the tax will be abolished. I feel that the tax presses very heavily on the class of people who have all their lives worked hard and live carefully to save something for their children. The tax was felt very much by those people when the South African party Government imposed it. I also agree with the hon. member for Queenstown (Mr. Moffat) that the tax has the tendency of driving people away from the land to the towns. The minute splitting up of farms is one of the great causes thereof. Farms are becoming smaller and smaller, and this causes an increase in the number of poor whites. I cannot ask for the abolition of the whole tax, but it is my duty to emphasize that the Minister should abolish it as soon as he can. Hon. members opposite say “hear, hear.” I am glad the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) now sees that they made a great mistake. He said, I think, that he could not foresee that the tax would press so heavily on the farmers. I assure him that it presses very heavily on the country side. He will have found the same thing in his own district, but he must remember that he has to thank his own Government for it. I do not, however, want to regard the matter merely from a party point of view. It is a matter of general interest to the country. We look to the future, and I think it will be of benefit if the Minister can soon abolish the tax. The people in the country have very little pleasure in life. They live on a lonely farm and are frugal to save something for their children and it is hard for them to know that when they die this big tax has to be paid. I think it is better to tax a man during his life rather than when he is dead. I hope, therefore, that the tax will be abolished as soon as possible.
Amendment put; and Sir Drummond Chaplin called for a division.
Upon which the Committee divided: Ayes—34.
Bates, F. T.
Brown, D. M.
Byron, J. J.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Coulter, C. W. A.
Deane, W. A.
Gilson, L. D.
Giovanetti, C. W.
Heatlie, C. B.
Jagger, J. W.
Krige, C. J.
Lennox, F. J.
Louw, G. A.
Louw, J. P.
Miller, A. M.
Nel, O. R.
O’Brien, W. J.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Rider, W. W.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Smuts, J. C.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Van Zyl, G. B.
tellers: Collins, W. R.; Marwick, J. S.
Badenhorst, A. L.
Barlow, A. G.
Brink, G. F.
Brits, G. P.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conradie, J. H.
Conroy, E. A.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I. E.
De Villiers, P. C.
De Villiers, W. B.
De Wet, S. D.
Fordham, A. C.
Hattingh, B. R.
Havenga, N. C.
Hay, G. A.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Keyter, J. G.
Le Roux, S. P.
Louw, E. H.
Madeley, W. B.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, M. L.
McMenamin, J. J.
Moll, H. H.
Mostert, J. P.
Naudé, A. S.
Naudé, J. F. T.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Rood, W. H.
Roos, T. J. de V.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Snow, W. J.
Stals, A. J.
Steytler, L. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Heerden, I. P.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Rensburg, J. J.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Waterston, R. B.
Werth, A. J.
Wessels, J. B.
Wessels, J. H. B.
Tellers: Pienaar, B. J.: Vermooten. O. S.
Amendment accordingly negatived.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
Clause 15 and the title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments, which were considered and agreed to, and the Bill, as amended, adopted; third reading to-morrow.
Second Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported yesterday, when the estimates of expenditure from railway and harbour funds had been agreed to without amendment.
Estimates of expenditure from loan funds during the year ending 31st March, 1926 (including estimate of the Defence Endowment Account) [U.G. 32—’25]. and an amendment thereto had been referred to the committee.]
Supplementary Estimates (Railways and Harbours) [U.G. 34—’25].
Head No. 2. £49,920, “Maintenance of Permanent Way”, put and agreed to.
Head No. 6, £41.310. “Superannuation”. put and agreed to.
Head No. 9. £575, “Catering Service”, put and agreed to.
Head No. 10, £65, “Bookstalls and Advertising”, put and agreed to.
On Head No. 13. £12,776, “Road Motor Services”,
I see you are asking for £12,700 more in this estimate making a total of close upon £40,000 for motor services. I don’t object to that, but I should like the Minister to give me a bit more information.
This is largely in the Transvaal. They have been carefully worked out and if we make a small loss it will be a very small one. We make careful investigation first and ascertain if the farming community desires it.
I take rather an interest in the motor service because I think it is a great way of developing the country where it is not possible to build railways. I hope the Minister is not going to devote his attention mainly to the Transvaal. I should like him to tell the committee what he is doing in the Province of Good Hope where there is a great demand for this motor service. Even if you have a loss on a service, it is one of the best ways to prove if a district is suitable for railway construction, and it also allows the farmers to use their animals for the purpose of developing land, instead of using them on the road for transport service at a period of time when, in the interests of production, it is essential they should be working on the land. Two years ago, I went through the Free State, and I came across one lot of waggons, 21 in number, I think, with 16 or 18 oxen to each waggon. That was in July, when they should have been ploughing their land, and when they would get twice the crop they would do if they ploughed in November. I think the Minister will find the committee sympathetic to this vote, but he has had many enquiries from the Cape of Good Hope, many of them from myself.
With regard to motor service in the Cape Province, I am afraid they have been lagging behind, and it is not because of any lack of sympathy from the department. Many months ago I asked the divisional officers to report to head office with regard to districts suitable for motor road service. In no case do we force a motor service on the community unless we can make sure we shall have the support of the farmers; we do not want to waste money. There are many people interested by way of transport riding, and they use their influence on the local community and they turn it down. I have been disappointed with the Cape Province, more especially with the Eastern Province. Let me disabuse the mind of the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) as to the conveyance of maize. We cannot do that at the present time because it would require a whole fleet of cars, and it is only necessary for two or three months, and for the rest of the time the fleet of cars would De idle. We may come to the question of the organization of a whole fleet of cars to be used in one district where there are crops and then take it to another district as required. But that takes a lot of organization. It is really the work of some other department. I understood my hon. friend thinks I am asking for too much money. If I have to buy more cars it will have to be out of capital, and it is only right I should not spend more money, than the country can bear from time to time. There are portions of the Eastern Province being investigated at the present time, and if the farmers support us we shall extend to that part of the province or any other part where there seems to be justification, and when we do I will come before the House, say next session, with additional estimates.
I hope the Minister will put on a responsible officer to go through the country and enquire where services of this sort can be established. There is no doubt that the dairy industry can be enormously helped by a service of this kind, and I can assure my hon. friend that I would be able to introduce him to districts where he will not find the farmers opposed to this, but where they will supplicate him, even on their knees, to introduce a service of this character. In the Eastern Province especially farmers are beginning to realize the possibilities of the dairy industry and other subsidiary industries of that kind, which it is impossible for them to properly carry out without some form of motor transport.
I am glad the Minister of Railways and Harbours has mentioned this. I remember that in Graaff-Reinet, where there is probably no provision for a railway on the next programme, strong recommendations were made to the Minister for a motor service. The stationmaster has been occupied for the past six months finding out what the prospects of such a service would be. He has sent reports to the Minister, but I fear that it will be said once more that it will not pay. There are times of the year when it will not, but then there are other times when all the wool will not be able to be carried. The easiest will be to have a number of motors to carry the wool and then to send them to another district to carry grain there. As far as support is concerned, I can assure him we will use it, but we must be certain of the service. The Minister is too much concerned about the Minister of Finance, but I wonder whether he has yet thought about the motor services that there are in the country, some of which have working at a loss for years. He acknowledges that in this respect the Cape Province has been treated shabbily. I hope that he will make an experiment in one or another place, e.g., at Graaff-Reinet, to see what the profit or loss will be. He should not always calculate on losses. He must look at what it will mean to the country.
I hope the Minister will not be tempted to launch out in this way. These services were specially designed for light traffic, dairy traffic especially, which goes on all the year round. I hope my hon. friend will not launch out on carrying wool and grain, which would only provide traffic for certain periods of the year.
There is a very important matter in regard to the road motor service, in fact the most important matter, I think, and that is that you should have decent roads.
In the Cape Province, unlike the other provinces, the roads are maintained by the people through their representatives. These roads are in the care of the divisional council. The divisional councils are doing a very good work in this respect, but I am told that when they have a congress to consider the matter of the improvement of roads the Minister refuses to help them by way of giving concession tickets. The Minister is not going to improve his motor services unless he has good roads. I hope when they give these people concession tickets when they have their congresses.
I am glad the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) has brought this up.
The matter cannot now be discussed.
Bui motor services are now under discussion, and these require good roads and they are entrusted to divisional councils.
The making of roads has nothing to do with the motor service.
But no motor service can be established without roads.
I just want to speak in reply to the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden). I do not want to go into the carriage of wool. What the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has said with regard to the carriage of mealies applies also to wool. We cannot maintain a motor service which runs only in the wool season. We must have a general income throughout the year. We cannot allow the service to be idle for six months in the year. If we go in for a wider scheme so that our motor cars can be used for different districts according to the harvests in the different districts, then we can reconsider the matter. But the hon. member is wrong if he thinks that the motor services in general do not pay. Some do not pay, but on the whole we made a profit last year of over £1,000. With reference to the question raised by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl), I do not think it really can be raised here, but I may say there are very good reasons why I have refused the concession to the divisional council congress.
The hon. Minister cannot proceed with that.
May I point out you have allowed the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) to raise the question, and it is only fair to the administration that I should give the reply.
The chairman says discussion must now cease.
Head put and agreed to.
Head No. 15, £750, “Interest on Superannuation and other funds”, put and agreed to.
Head No. 17, £7,535, “Miscellaneous Expenditure”, put and agreed to.
Head No. 23, £1,025, “Superannuation”, put and agreed to.
On head No. 25, £45, “Lighthouses, Beacons and Signal Stations”,
There is a question I would like to ask the Minister on this. Is he doing anything in regard to the matter of direction finding for vessels coming in in the fog? I would like to know whether the Minister is moving in the matter.
As the hon. member will notice, the item is “contribution to pension and superannuation funds”.
Head put and agreed to.
Supplementary estimates of expenditure for Railways and Harbours to be reported without amendment.
supplementary Estimates [U.G. 38—’25],
Vote 19, “Defence”, £13,253, put and agreed to.
Vote 20, “Interior”, £4,000, put and agreed to.
Vote 23, “Public Health”, £1,000, put and agreed to.
Vote 24, “Native Affairs £1,400, put and agreed to.
On vote 26, “Union Education”, £31,000,
I should like to know who is going to pay this contribution towards the compilation of an Afrikaans dictionary. I should have thought that would have been done by the universities as an item of education.
I believe it is by order of the House that this expenditure is being incurred. We adopted the suggestion of the select committee, and this department is making the contribution. I do not know what arrangements my hon. friend is making to have the work executed.
Vote put and agreed to.
Vote 27, “Child Welfare”, £612, put and agreed to.
On vote 28, “Agriculture”, £191,000,
In regard to this extra £190,000 which the Minister wants for locust destruction, at the opening of Parliament the Governor-General, in his speech, stated that Parliament opened under fairer auspices as the locust visitation had been successfully overcome. The Minister then only made "arrangements for an expenditure of £10,000; but now we find the locust pest has increased and he is making further provision. I would like to have a statement from the Minister in regard to the locust position.
What was said in the Governor-General’s speech is, I think, quite right. At that time the country was free from locusts, but unfortunately the Union is bounded by a large territory, the desert, where locusts have hatched out, and to-day a large portion of the Cape Province and one district of the Free State are covered. During May and June terribly large swarms came in this direction. We expect many locusts to hatch out. With a view to that, this amount has been put on the estimates.
I think the Minister is a little incorrect in his statement. The Minister and his friends laid grave charges against the late administration in connection with the destruction of locusts, and a comparison was made between the alleged inaction of the late Government and the active steps taken by the present Government. We are very much depressed, because we were told not only that the department, with their officials, were taking every possible step—to which they are entitled to every possible kudos—but that the Minister was taking the field himself. The locusts were being destroyed and instead of spending £300,000 or £400,000 the locusts were being wiped out, and the money the Minister expended would be more than repaid, because he would not have to ask for an additional grant.
What about the heavy crop of maize this season?
That is due to the steps the previous administration took in killing off all the locusts it possibly could. The Minister refused to give consideration to the fact that previous administrations had difficulties to contend with as well as he had. The Minister was rather premature when, having taken the field himself, he thought the locusts were bound to capitulate.
I never said that; it must be a dream.
Oh, yes, the Minister said he came, he saw and he conquered.
So he did.
Then why is he coming to the Treasury for £190,000 more?
Because more locusts have come along.
But the belief was that they were exterminated. I will not say whether Providence chose the very best possible instrument for the destruction of the locusts, because that fungus disease carried off millions of locusts, and, but for that the Minister would require twice £190,000. Should the Minister require more money, instead of criticizing his want of foresight, we will give him every possible assistance, because in dealing with a plague of that sort no matter how efficient your officials are—and they are capable and efficient—until you can get some plague to carry the locusts off the most you can do is to keep the plague in check and save a certain amount of the crops. I am very glad there is such a great harvest, but I hope this will be a warning to the Minister in future that he must not think that the mere statement that he is personally taking the field and showing people what they ought to do—they knew more about the destruction of locusts than the Minister did—is sufficient, and that he will have a more contrite heart in future. He has had his lesson, I hope he will profit by it.
The Minister has recently issued an appeal in connection with the destruction of locusts, and I should be glad if he could tell us in what direction the proposed expenditure of £190,000 is to be devoted. In the appeal he issued it says—
The voetganger locust seems to have appeared again. This appeal appears on the 10th July in the press of South Africa, and here we are, within a few days of that date, being asked to vote this huge sum of money, and we have no explanation from the Minister as to how the money is to be spent. The appeal goes on to say—
When the Minister spoke just now he did not tell us really where these locusts were destroying the crops, nor does he tell us in the appeal. He just says they are destroying crops—
It seems to me that the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) objects to my making an appeal to the farmers such as I have done in the past. I have made an appeal to them just as in the past, seeing that large masses of locusts have come out of the desert, and I asked them to stand together again to eradicate them. He now wants me to explain why I am going to spend a shilling on this or on that. I cannot do so. Poison must be made, and for that about £20,000 is being used at present. I do not want to do what the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) did. When the fight began, only then did he begin to make poison and syringes, and now he is jealous that we are eradicating locusts, a thing which he could not do. So he wants to blow off steam about our spending much money. The remainder of the money will be used in assisting the people to fight the locusts. There are people living on the borders of the desert where the locusts come from, and they are being repeatedly saddled with this work. They are getting tired of it, and the Government intends to assist them more with motor lorries and assistants. They are practically a buffer state to the rest of the country.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.6 p.m.
When the House adjourned for the interval the Minister of Agriculture was dealing with the question of locust infestation of the Union, but I regret to say that he has not given us any information in regard to the extent of the infestation of the union at all, and we are at present asked to vote this large sum of money with a very bare statement before us. Could the Minister tell us what the standing force is for dealing with the locusts and what expenditure is necessary from month to month to keep his staff at its normal strength? Before we vote this money, we should like to know what standing establishment is likely to be kept on during the year for dealing with these locusts. I feel sure that if I had been occupied, as the Minister has been, in chasing locusts, and in commanding the campaign in person and, to use his own words, “with the expenditure of great sums of money, and Divine guidance,” I should have been able to tell this House more about the details than he has given. What we want to know is the strength that he is bound to maintain to keep a skeleton establishment ready for dealing with the locusts, what that establishment costs from month to month, and why it is necessary to spring from £10,000 per annum to £200,000 per annum. Even the appearance of the recently observed disease amongst the locusts is a question I do not think he has dealt with in his reply. A certain fungoid disease has appeared among the locusts in South-West Africa, in the Kalahari, and in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. This has been dealt with very fully by one of his officers, Mr. Scaife, in a paper which he read before the science congress at Oudtshoorn. The experience of 25 years ago went to show that efforts to exterminate the locusts by chasing them when on the wing were largely fruitless, and the way in which they were finally exterminated was by the spread of this disease, and as far back as 1897, in Natal, a successful effort was made to spread this disease amongst the locusts, and it was in that way and with the aid of locust birds that the pest was finally wiped out in Natal. I hope we are not going to be committed to a very large expenditure over this, when as a matter of fact Providence is coming to our aid in the way of spreading this virulent disease among the locusts. I hope the Minister will deal with these points before we pass the vote.
I should like to ask the Minister whether he could give us some information to show that the work of dealing with the locusts is done with economy. I know of the case of a farm worth only £300 where the Government stepped in to deal with the locusts, and employed in a few weeks no fewer than 48 men. The upshot of this was that a bill was sent in for £97. It is quite obvious that a bill of £97 for dealing with locusts on a farm the value of which is only £300 is out of all proportion. I have seen the list of the people employed, and it seems to me the work could have been done quite well by two or three Europeans with a few natives, and that the large amount expended on this farm simply amounted to relief work for the people in the vicinity. It may be good, or it may be bad, to spend money on relief work, but it should come under the relief vote. I would be glad to know from the Minister what steps he does take to see that work of this nature is carried out with reasonable economy.
I should just like to reply to what the hon. member for South Peninsula said that the employment of 48 people on a farm to destroy Locusts is some times necessary. People are employed in such numbers there in order to destroy the locusts as quickly as possible. Does the hon. member want us to be busy for a month on a farm destroying locusts and so increase the cost and give the locusts an opportunity to fly away? The object is not, as he thinks, to waste money, but to kill locusts. For that reason, possibly, more people have to be employed than the hon. member thinks right, but if I want to do my duty I must act in that way. If the same position arises this year I shall act exactly as last year, because it seems to me the best method. I am sorry the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) is so jealous. His jealousy almost drives him mad. He said I made a wrong statement with reference to the destruction of locusts and he read out what was said in the Governor-General’s speech. But that is quite correct. The locusts within the Union were destroyed, and no one can be responsible if locusts come in from outside. All locusts now in the Union have come from outside. Does he want us to do nothing and let the insects go their, own gait? The hon. members opposite use inappropriate arguments. The hon. member says that I myself went into the field to make a name for myself. That is not so. The object was to see whether the organization was in good order. It worked better than if I had remained in my office with my hands crossed. Hon. members talk about destroying locusts by the cultivation of the fungus disease of locusts. I am glad that Providence came to our assistance, but still we must not sit still. I hope the hon. member for Fort Beaufort will moderate his envy a little. I did my duty, and I am prepared to answer to Parliament and to the country. I know that the people are satisfied and that through our action many people have been placed in a better position to-day and that we succeeded by the campaign in saving 25 million bags of mealies. I cannot, unfortunately, make the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) understand that it is impossible to say how many people will be employed in the respective months—one hundred, one thousand or two thousand. It depends entirely on the rain-fall, where it is and when the locusts hatch out. It may be that in one month no people at all will be appointed, and it may be that in another month 4,000 or 5,000 people have to be appointed. Does the hon. member expect that we are acting as in former years and are now already training people to destroy locusts in the future and in that way keeping quite a large number of people permanently in the service? The people of the country are satisfied. If the locusts appear we shall act at once, and I cannot say whether in one month I may possibly have to appoint 5.000 and in another month only 500 people. I only want further to say that we hope to be able, by the new powder, to reduce costs. There is still a considerable amount of liquid arsenic, mixed with water, but as soon as that is exhausted we will not use it any longer, but use the powder. Then the hon. member asks if we cannot cultivate the disease among the locusts. If he had taken the trouble to read the report of the entomologist—it was laid on the Table a short while ago-—he would have known that that is not possible. It depends entirely on climatic and weather conditions, and unfortunately I am not a rain-maker to be able in that way to kill the locusts.
Where are the locusts now?
The whole area of Gordonia, Hay, Barkly West, a portion of Bechuanaland up to the confines of Kimberly and one district of the Free State (Fauresmith) are covered with locusts.
As a representative of a portion of the Free State that had many locusts, I would like to urge upon the Minister that he must not allow himself to be diverted from his course. It is proved that he was successful with the destruction of locusts on account of the way that he tackled the matter. It was not a success in the past, because under the former Government the officials only drove around, except where they helped voluntarily, and here and there people were very busy destroying locusts, but the farmers were powerless alone on the farms, and so dissatisfaction arose. Now the officials do not only do that, and the success of the present Minister is because the officials brought together 40 or 50 people on one farm to surround the locusts in order to kill them.
What did that cost?
That does not matter. The former Government spent money and the locusts were not killed. We urged the former Government to give the officials power to hire people to surround the locusts on a farm to destroy them. The money, however, was wasted; the officials, however, drove about and the people on the farms did not organize because they got no assistance from the Government to hire helpers. Last year the present Minister authorized the employment of people to surround the locusts on the farm. There were no less locusts than in former years, but they were killed. The result was that we got millions of bags of mealies which has repaid twice the amount of the costs to the country. The officials took off their jackets, and I hope that the Minister will not hesitate in the future with the campaign.
I do not wish to criticise the Minister of Agriculture in connection with the destruction of locusts. I think he has succeeded fairly well, but in many parts of my district people suffered considerable damage through the destruction of locusts. In my own neighbourhood 50 to 60 cattle were lost by the scattering of powder. The officials were a little too careless. It is not the Minister’s fault, but if he appoints officials he should see to it a little that they are responsible men who will take proper care. The damage in my district by negligence was very great. We reported the matter, and I think that the Minister has been made aware of it and will go into it. No compensation is paid. The Act does not permit of it. I congratulate him on the fair measure of success he has had. This does not overlook the fact that the locusts were also destroyed during the years before he became Minister. In the Transvaal I can say the voetgangers were also destroyed in other years, and likewise in the Free State. But what locusts did the damage? Not those that came from the Transvaal, they were killed; but the flying locusts which came from Prieska, Gordonia, South-West Africa and other parts. This year the flyers, fortunately, did not come so far, but if they came then there is no Government which can hope to act successfully. We try every means of killing the voetgangers, but if they reach the flying stage then there is nothing, but to give up. Nor have we been damaged in these years by the locusts, but by drought. The locusts did not eat up the mealies in the Transvaal and in the Free State.
That is not so.
That may be so in other districts, but then it was due to flying locusts.
Voetgangers as well.
With us the voetgangers had been killed. In districts where the organization was not good it possibly happened. I should like to ask the hon. member for Boshof (Mr. van Rensburg) how he would surround and kill a swarm of 10 to 12 miles in breadth with 40 men. It is not possible with flying locusts. If the locusts are in the flying stage then my experience is that the best thing is to leave them in peace. Then they fly away. But if you commence by killing a few of their leaders then they begin to move and eat everything up. No, I entirely agree with the Minister that we are not spending too much money in destruction, so long as we do not go to work carelessly. We must, of course, not waste money, but if the money which is down on the estimates is necessary then I have no objection to its being spent. I should like the Minister also to have an enquiry made into further means of destroying locusts, especially in the districts where it is very difficult to get at them because there is no water and because the officials cannot push through with the motor cars and other means of transport. The officials appointed must be trustworthy people, who will not kill farmers, but locusts. A certain enmity some time exists between farmers and officials, and things have happened that we deprecate. Farmers have suffered damage through the acts of officials. As soon as the locusts arrived on my farm I told the officials that I would rather supervise the destruction myself. I have many grown-up people on my farm, and we succeeded very well in killing the locusts.
I think we ought to have some information from the Minister, as to the number of motor lorries employed on these expeditions and whether they are permanently employed, and whether the people who drive them are permanently employed and further, as to how many permanent officers there are employed in the skeleton force which is ready for emergencies in organizing arrangements to check an outbreak. Where are the locusts coming from that are to be destroyed, seeing that Mr. Scaife has reported that there are none in the northern part of Bechuanaland? It seems to me that the wages paid to the locust officers are unnecessarily high, and that a considerable saving could be effected if there were better supervision. I am not opposed to the expenditure if the money were well spent. What are the average wages paid to locust officers?
Vote put and agreed to.
Vote 29, “Agriculture (Education)”, £950, put and agreed to.
Vote 39, “Relief of Distress”, £25,000, put and agreed to.
Supplementary estimates of expenditure [U.G, 38—’25] to be reported without amendment.
Loan Estimates [U.G. 32—’25].
On Loan Vote A, “Railways and Harbours”, £6,600,000,
On Loan Vote B, “Public Works”, £672,000,
The Minister of Finance stated this afternoon that a good deal of the money now being asked for was to carry out commitments. The greater part of the whole of this vote is really for works not started or new works.
£583,000 is for commitments and a lot has been spent since then.
Who authorized that expenditure?
You cannot stop work in the middle.
You can’t spend £250,000 in three months. The biggest part of the work under the heading of “Agriculture” has not been started, and agriculture and irrigation are very much the same. The vote for child welfare is £21,901, but not a sixpence has been spent. The sum of £34,000 is set down for offices for Labour Department, Cape Town. The Minister is going to have a fine establishment if he is going to spend all that money. The mental hospitals represent works which have not been started, and so the thing goes on. I think the Minister rather overstated the case. The sum of £268,617 is set down for police, but so far only £34,824 has been spent on half a dozen places. Perhaps more money has been spent on the posts and telegraphs than, on any other vote, and it is much the same with prisons and reformatories. I think my hon. friend could, without very much trouble, cut down these estimates by two-thirds, and the country would go on just the same. Let me give him a case: At Flagstaff, a gaol is to be provided to cost £6,500. I wonder if a dozen white or coloured people live at Flagstaff. Are there three prisoners there? If so, the Minister of Justice can exercise his clemency and let them out. What does the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs want to spend £90.000 for on a new post office at East London?
It was promised 14 years ago.
Then there are £14,000 for extension to the sorting office at the railway station at Germiston.
We are spending £100,000 in Cape Town.
I will deal with that in exactly the same way, don’t worry about that. Here is another point. Workshop and smithy, Onderstepoort, £2,800. What agriculturist is going to spend that money on a new workshop and smithy. Then extension of barn, silos and feed rooms, £6,800. No farmer could spend this amount of money on requisites. Then take the item: Citrus experimental station, £10,000. I would like to know where that is going to be. Then take agricultural education: I notice here quite a number of houses for staff, two at Cedara, £7,500, three at Glen, £6,075, three at Elsenburg, £5,600, and at Grootfonein, £4,400 for a dairy. What farmer can spend that money on a dairy? It is preposterous in my opinion. Perhaps the Minister of Agriculture will tell us something about these. [Time expired.]
I notice on page 6, Matatiele is having a splendid time. Is this the price which is being paid for the new recruit to the Nationalist party? The new recruit lives at Matatiele, and this centre is to have a magistrate’s house costing £3,200, public offices £2,350, police station and quarters £5,450, post office and exchange £2,250, gaol and quarters £7,600, a total of approximately £20,000.
The labourer is evidently worthy of his hire.
Why is such a large amount being spent there? When I asked for a post office and magistrate’s office I was told there was no money, and yet £21,000 can be spent in a small place like Matatiele. It looks as if there has been some wire-pulling. If I want some money for my constituency what wires must I pull to get these privileges?
Get into the Senate.
If I do, I hope to get there by a straight path.
I have got last year’s estimates, prepared by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). Take, for instance, last year, Cape Town post office, £180,000; Pretoria post office and annexe, £102,000; Tokai reformatory, £18,000; Pretoria police depot, £24,000. They sound very large. The fact is the hon. member knows that all the items have had to be put forward, been criticized and cut down before they have been finally passed by the treasury. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) is quite wrong in saying this money has not been spent. £583,000 out of the £670,000 is work actually in hand. The reason is they were late in starting, and were, therefore, not actually in a position to spend the money, although they had entered into the contract. I asked my department how many of these had not been started and, with the exception of one, they had all been started. That is why we have to show £583,000 commitments. Although the money is not shown as being spent, it was because before the end of March, the time had not arrived to make the first payments to the contractor. With regard to the labour office mentioned by the hon. member, the House knows, since the Pact Government took office, we started a labour department. This meant increased staff and increased work. We had to house the Apprenticeship Committee, the factory inspectors, the Juvenile Advisory Board and the whole staff lately of the Mines and Industries Department who were before scattered all over the place. We put up a magistrate’s court in Cape Town. There are about a dozen offices required there by the magistrates, but these offices are being utilized by the inspectors of white labour and other labour departments. We propose to put up a new set of offices on our own ground in Barrack Square.
What are you doing with the building you have in Church Square?
We shall sell that and we shall get nearly as much for it as will enable us to put up the new labour office.
Have you not let a part of it?
No, the previous Government let part of it. It is not suitable, and would not meet the position. It has been let now for about five years. They are the tenants of our predecessors, and naturally we have kept them on. Apart from that, the building is unsatisfactory. It is an old building, and is not suitable to house the labour department, so we propose putting up a building that will be suitable to house the whole of the labour activities. It is quite a sound proposition.
I am interested in connection with that building. I know something about it. The late Government agreed to hand it over to the agricultural department, and Mr. Griffiths was erecting there the whole of his cold storage arrangements, as it was the most suitable building in Cape Town for the purpose of carrying out scientific investigation in connection with the cold storage of fruit. The hall was temporarily let, as it was the best place for the herbarium. The labour department came along and said it was the only suitable building they could have. Surely there must have been some other place suitable for temporary offices instead of turning these people out bag and baggage. By doing that they upset the cold storage investigation for a considerable period of time.
What the hon. member has just said is quite true. The agricultural department was going to put in an elaborate laboratory for investigation and scientific work. I submit to the hon. member that it is very undesirable to have a building right in the middle of the town on a valuable site, utilized for laboratory purposes. I discussed this matter with my hon. friend, and I pointed out to him how inadvisable it was to go and have a place like that in a business centre; I said I would find as good, if not better, accommodation. I found better accommodation at the top of Parliament Street.
It is not nearly as suitable.
At that time we had nowhere to put the Labour office. I took a personal interest in this matter. We found better accommodation and on not nearly such a valuable site; I say we will get nearly enough from the Church Square building to pay for the housing of our Labour people in the proper way.
The poor Treasury is usually in this position that it is not very well acquainted with local conditions. It has to scrutinize these various demands made upon it as best it can. We are very much indebted for the local information which we get on occasions like this. It has been suggested that the new offices for Matatiele may be due to something that is in the nature of corruption, in view of recent events. Perhaps the hon. member for Griqualand (Mr. Gilson) might give us some information. Subject to what my hon. friend the Prime Minister has to say, I would be prepared to move out these offices at Matatiele.
The hon. member for Newcastle who has just attacked the various items included in the vote involving expenditure in Matatiele is very evidently raising a “smoke screen” to cover his tracks. I would point out that my hon. friend sitting behind me lives in a place called Greytown, and when I look down the list I see an item of £13,500 for a court house and post office at this place. Now he is trying to switch off the discussion to the detriment of poor little Matatiele. I do think that Matatiele is a place that has been very much neglected in the past. I certainly admit that £3,700 for a magistrate’s residence is a lot of money, and that probably a suitable building could be erected for less, but, with that exception. I would submit, and I think the Prime Minister will see for himself when he visits that district, that Matatiele has up to now not received the consideration which it is entitled to, and that these services are really very essential to an up-to-date town that Matatiele certainly is. I do not think money has been wasted there and the proposed expenditure is fully justified. There is one vote which I am going to be perfectly honest about in my own constituency, that is Flagstaff. I allude to the provision of £6,500 for a gaol. This is one of the smallest villages in Pondoland, and I do think that we can effect a very big saving there, and that a suitable building can be erected there for a much smaller sum. It is only a gaol for short term prisoners. Any prisoners sentenced to over 5 months’ imprisonment are sent away to some other centre. There are many other matters in which Pondoland has been systematically neglected in the past and I think that this large sum could be far more beneficially used in Flagstaff than in building a costly gaol. I do think that there is what I must describe as reckless extravagance in these loan estimates and I feel that what the country is crying out for to-day is economy and not lavish expenditure.
I would like to ask the Minister of Public Works a question. I see that there are re-votes and a certain amount of money is put down here. Then there are new works. Does my hon. friend say they have started these new works?
Then what is the good of talking?
There is only £88,000 down for new works.
There is a good deal more than that. There is one item alone of £90,000. I see that there are the following items: Bethlehem, post office, £7,000; Cape Town, erection of stores, garage, etc., £20,000; Durban, garage accommodation, caretakers’ and native quarters, £8,200; East London, post office, £90,000, and Kimberley, alterations and additions, £25,000. Do I understand that these are not started at all?
That is what I called attention to.
If the hon. member will look at page 9, he will see there an amount of £88,000 in the middle column. That represents our new commitments for this current financial year.
But you have not started them.
We cannot stop all our public works. Take our last year’s programme. None of these works had been started last year. They are now well on their way to completion.
Have you started any of these new works?
We are spending this year on new works, £88,000. The balance of the commitments will go to next year. May I point out that this vote has been cut down in the matter of commitments by something like £400,000. We have cut departments down, you have now absolutely the minimum that is necessary. Take the East London post office, which has been referred to. I have been through the files in connection with that and I find that that was regarded as absolutely necessary fourteen years ago. I visited East London and I saw the disgraceful conditions under which they were carrying on their postal work in that town. As far as we are concerned we are not going to shirk our responsibility in this regard. We are going to give the town the decent post office to which it is entitled and which it was promised years ago. The same thing applies to most of these items put down. I am only fulfilling, in many cases, the promises made by our predecessors. Surely the hon. member cannot complain of that?
Yes that is all very well, but I have never yet known an official who did not come along and swear it was absolutely necessary to have the latest thing. I have known the estimates come up from officials of the railways department amounting to £10,000,000, and they have had to be cut down to £5,000,000. The Minister must not take too much credit to himself in this regard. The question is, can we afford it? If they got on without it at East London up to now they could do without it for another 12 months or two years. Can we afford to borrow money at 6 per cent. to put up all these buildings? If you meet all the officials’ demands you will very soon be ruined.
I would like to know from the Minister whether he considers in future all magistrates’ houses are to cost £3,250 and whether he thinks that is a fair amount for the country to pay. This is a new vote, not one of the old votes. He cannot make the excuse in saying that it was voted by the previous Government. Many of us have asked for public buildings which are absolutely necessary. There is the case of Utrecht, where the Minister had decided to shift the magistrates’ court into an old school building which had been condemned by the educational authorities, and the Minister only desisted when the people had threatened to rebel if this was carried out. They felt a grave injustice was being done. I think I am entitled to ask the Minister whether under the circumstances, he does not consider that the money to be spent on this house might not be used for a suitable building for the unfortunate police at Dannhauser, instead of the lean-to, 7 ft. by 6 ft., which they use at present.
It is true that I withheld this transfer, but not because they rebelled. I sent one of our best men down to Pretoria to consult with the local authorities, and he reported it was quite a feasible scheme, but on account of the representations made by the hon. member and others I said—
With regard to the cost of the houses, very often—I am not defending this particular case, because I do not know the details—magistrates’ and police houses and others are built in most inaccessible and out of the way parts. We cannot get contractors to tender for them on account of the difficulty of getting the material there and the extra overhead expenses, which would not be incurred if that same house was built in or adjacent to a town. That factor has always to be considered. The other point is the department has either got to do one or another thing. It has either got to build cheaply and spend a lot on maintenance—I am told the maintenance vote on all buildings does not amount to 1 per cent.—which means letting the buildings go to rack and ruin, or else make a decent job of them so that they will last. I want to strike the happy medium, to try and get something which is not shoddy. The Government cannot afford to put up shoddy buildings and pay a lot for maintenance, but on the other hand. I will admit that on the face of it many of these services seem to be on the expensive side. I will watch it closely and criticize where it is justified and necessary.
In reviewing votes of this nature one can only judge from one’s own constituency and adjoining constituencies of which one knows something as to whether the money is necessary or not. I happen to know East’ Griqualand very well. When I see that this House is asked to vote £6,500 for a gaol in a little native village in the Transkei, and when I remember at the same time how a few years ago in the provincial council I struggled for years to get £1,200 for a school for European children in that same village, it seems to me there is something wrong in the control of the capital expenditure of this country. I do not think there is a single white man in the whole of the native territories living in palatial residences costing £6,000. The average little gaol should never cost more than £2,000. If you are squandering money in this fashion—and you are squandering it—it seems likely there is large wastage elsewhere. I will talk about Matatiele. You are going to spend £5,500 for a police station for two or three European policemen. It has a fine stone court-house. The hon. member for East Griqualand has admitted that there is one case there where the money is not going to be wisely spent, and I am sure there are other instances. There is no necessity to spend such large amounts on this place. There is a demand for this building, but £5,000 or £6,000 goes a long way, and the country is crying out for other things; schools, for instance. These votes need the severest scrutiny. I see one case after the other where the money is not to be spent wisely, and I feel there must be cases where money will be spent unnecessarily in other instances. In view of the present financial state of the country, and the necessity to spend on reproductive works, the Government should be careful in spending money on non-productive works. We are going to face a period of great financial stringency, and, before the Minister spends money like this, unnecessarily, the proposal should have the closest scrutiny. I hope tile Minister will keen a severe check over his officials in this regard.
As it happens, we are not responsible for these votes. Take Matatiele, £5,450, police station and quarters; that is last year’s commitment. It is a re-vote. Take Matatiele post office and exchange, £2,250. That is a re-vote. Most of those items criticized to-day are amounts for services started by our predecessors.
I notice, under the various heads, several small amounts of £100 for post offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, etc. I should like to know what they are for. It is said that they are for the preparation of plans, etc. The Minister surely has architects in his department, and they can complete the plans. I do not know what these small amounts are for and I should like to have full information. If his officers are sufficiently competent, then, in my opinion, it will be unnecessary to vote these amounts.
There is not £100 for the post office in Johannesburg, perhaps the hon. member is referring to Kimberley.
All these buildings.
The idea of putting that money on, is that it enables us, before the next financial year, to complete our working drawings, to call for tenders and get the thing started, and the first payment for the building will come in, in the first month of the next financial year, and there will be a re-vote next year. Up to now, these estimates are based on sketch plans. Having been approved by the House, we get our working drawings; these are submitted to the contractors, who tender, and the contracts have to be let. All this takes time—probably to the end of the financial year. We have put down these small sums to get these things started.
If they draw up the plans, does the Minister pay?
They have to be paid out of the salaries of the Public Works Department; but there is a certain amount of incidental expenditure in advertising, inviting tenders, and letting the contracts out, and this covers that expenditure.
I want to ask the Minister of Agriculture a few questions. There is an item here, Onderstepoort, Bacteriological Laboratory, also Elsenburg; Rustenburg. Why all these quarters for the staff? Then there is Citrus Experimental Station, and quarters at Cedara, Elsenburg and Glen, and a costly dairy at Grootfontein. Perhaps the Minister will give us information about these.
I hope the committee will excuse me, but I am really nervous, because the Minister of Agriculture so overpowers one that one is really diffident in asking questions.
You need not be nervous.
In his reply to the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger), he said that most of these things were started by the last administration, but if he will look down the columns, he will see that a great many of them are really started for the first time under the present administration. The Minister did not know if they were new works or not.
I can’t help it if you don’t understand it.
I can only give the Minister my attention. I can’t give him the intelligence to understand the three columns which appear in the vote. The Minister replied to the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) in such a manner that he is afraid to ask any more questions. I am in favour of a citrus experiment station, but I would like to ask for information which I am entitled to, and I hope the Minister will not attack me as he did the hon. member for Cape Town (Central).
Yes I will.
where is this citrus experiment station to be established? I am entirely sympathetic with the work at the Onderstepoort Bacteriological Laboratory, and recognize that admirable work is done, but even at an institution like that, a workshop and smithy should be erected as cheaply as possible. I came to that conclusion in regard to agricultural schools. While favourable to giving them every building necessary, it is, in the interests of the students that the buildings should be of an economical character, otherwise, when the students return to their farm, they desire to erect buildings which their operations do not justify them in doing. I would like information with regard to the dairy at Grootfontein. The intention was to teach at Glen dairy farming, more as a profession than as an adjunct to ordinary farming. I would also like some enlightenment with regard to the plant fumigation building at Elsenburg. £1,600. I am glad that the Minister is going to spend the money this financial year, for a plant fumigation station is necessary. I am sorry that the plant inspection buildings in Cape Town are not going ahead so quickly as they should, for it is very necessary to take every possible step to prevent plants carrying disease. I hope I have now calmed my hon. friend down, and that he will give me the information I am asking for. I hope he does not think, because we are asking questions, we are desirous of picking holes in his department. It, is the last thing I want to do. I am desirous of giving him every assistance, and he occasionally treats me in a hard-hearted manner, which I do not deserve.
I should just like to point out to the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) that it is not a new vote that we are inaugurating for the investigation in connection with cotton and oranges. It was established under his own Government. It is not a new work. Hon. members opposite are now attacking this side, chiefly in connection with work which their own Government approved and we are carrying out. These experimental farms were approved by them.
But you have now the responsibility.
We are not afraid of that. Is the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) afraid of his own works which we have to carry out? I believe he is only trying to catch votes. In connection with the experimental farm I will just say that we consider it necessary. Our fruit industry is still in its infancy and we must enquire into the best oranges and cotton which should be grown in the future. Is the Government to sit still and make no investigation? I think the hon. member is unreasonable. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) is very quiet about this, I do not think he agrees with the hon. member. As a farmer, he surely approves of the experimental farm. With reference to the buildings at Cedara the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) is also much concerned. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort had them on his own estimates. We now have to carry it out, and hon. members opposite are crying about it. Are they ashamed of what they did? I just want to tell the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) that Onderstepoort is of great use to South Africa and I think we dare not be so negligent as to fail to continue the work. The institution must be properly equipped and the various cattle diseases must be duly enquired into. Does the hon. member know that this is the best institution in the world. He shakes his head, but people who have come from oversea have acknowledged it. Now he attacks us about the building of houses for the staff to the extent of £1,750. If officials are appointed there, we surely cannot dump them on the veld.
Where were they housed up to the present?
The officials are being appointed now and we must erect buildings for them. They are required there and the Government must provide for their proper housing. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) is further dissatisfied about the dairy factory that we are establishing. He says that those which he established did not cost nearly so much, but he forgets that he only did it for his own herd of cows and not for the number of children which have to be educated there and to be properly housed. Does he want us to crowd them into a little hut of five by five foot? No, he will never make a Minister of Agriculture. The institution costs £4,400 and the young people will get a proper opportunity there of being completely trained. We called for tenders for it. I can give the hon. member the assurance that if he can only induce people to tender more cheaply then I will avail myself of their services with gratitude. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) has tried to bring the House under the impression that most of the works and buildings mentioned here are new buildings. If he cannot read the estimates correctly I will help him to understand them properly. If he looks at the list he will see that there are 13 old buildings and works, that is 13 revotes, and that there are only nine new buildings. Whether the hon. member has understood that 13 is more than 9 I do not know. He of course is very anxious to help us to do the work and that is the help that we get. He is busy misrepresenting matters. I am very thankful to him, but I do not accept that help. He wants to know where we are going to establish the experimental farm in connection with oranges and cotton. It has not yet been definitely decided, probably it will be at Nelspoort. That is a very suitable place and as the hon. member knows the Government has a farm there. I hope that I have now set the hon. member at rest. I am sorry that the work is not proceeding quicker in connection with a station for the disinfection of plants. In connection with the station at Elsenburg I may say that it was a recommendation by the officials of the department. One portion of the officials wish that we should build it in Pretoria. But the other portion say that the danger is too great in removing the plants to Pretoria seeing that the diseases might spread throughout the country. That is why it has been put at Elsenburg. With reference to the dairy at Grootfontein I may say that the largest number of cattle will be kept there to make provision for further and more extensive education in connection with, butter, etc. We know that there is also something of the kind at Cedara. I hope that the House after this information will understand that most of the works are old works of the former Government and that there are very few new works. The new works are absolutely necessary. We cannot appoint officials and dump them in the veld. Some of the officials at Elsenburg have to live at Stellenbosch and go every morning to Elsenburg. That is unsatisfactory and we are compelled to build houses for the people. The same applies to Grootfontein and Glen.
I only hope that the Minister will go still further into the question about the plant fumigation place. I think there is a great deal in what the Minister says that it is better to have it nearer the coast.
I am afraid one of these days the Minister of Agriculture will get up and bite someone in the House.
You need not be afraid.
Well, I am getting alarmed. It seems to me that the Minister is constitutionally incapable of returning anything, but a truculent answer.
You need not worry about my constitution.
We are used to courtesy from other Ministers in this House. However non-contentious a question may be, however willing we may be to help him, the Minister gets up and returns a truculent answer. We are not a kindergarten or a bear garden. Why should not the Minister take a leaf out of the book of the Minister sitting next door to him (The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs)? We always, at any rate, get a courteous reply. I would remind the Minister of Agriculture that politeness costs nothing. I see on page 9 an item, Bridge, Pongola River. I would like to know whether that is to deal with the new railway or whether it is a road bridge.
It is close to Paulpietersburg. If the hon. gentleman will come over to my office I will show him the place on the map.
I can give the information that the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) wants. It is on the main road from Piet Retief to Vryheid. We have been struggling for the last 15 years to get such a bridge there because for the greatest portion of the year we cannot get across.
Well, I congratulate you on it.
I come back again to the Minister of Agriculture. I notice that there is £10,000 down for a small experimental farm. I should dike to know what has become of the experimental farm near Warmbaths. Much money was spent there. Was it sold or does it still belong to the Government? I think that the farm failed as a result of citrus cancer and I should like to know what happened to it. I should also like to know if enquiries are still being made in Rustenburg in connection with citrus cancer and whether the officials are still there.
I may tell the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) that I do not know that we have an experimental farm at Warmbaths. It may have been there under the regime of the former Government and that they ruined it. There is one at Rustenburg and another at Hartebeestpoort. It may be that he means one of those two. There is also one in Pietersburg. With reference to citrus cancer I may say that the position is very favourable, but not so long ago there were a few more cases. It appears that the evil remains for years in the ground. People have asked to be allowed to plant trees again where the disease formerly existed, but the experts of the department say that that must not happen, because there is a danger that the disease will again make its appearance there. The officials are still kept on at Rustenburg.
I hope that my hon. friend will not allow pressure to be brought to bear upon him on the score of economy to get rid of the citrus canker investigators or inspectors. We know what the condition of Florida was after they got rid of the inspectors there. Perhaps the hon. gentleman will tell the committee when they found those two cases of citrus canker. I was under the impression that we had got the disease completely in check.
Very recently two cases of citrus canker have been found.
*In reply to the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) I may add that such a farm no longer falls under my department. The secretary tells me it has been taken over by the Department of Lands.
I would like to ask the Minister what this £20,000 here is for—“Additions and alterations to Houses of Parliament.” Is this for dog boxes, bath-rooms or motor garages? I thought it was clearly understood when the resolution was passed the other night, that in the case of any alterations or additions, the plans were to be submitted to the House. I should have expected the first thing the Minister would have done when this vote came up, would be to move the deletion of this item.
If he is not going to move the deletion I am going to do it. I see the Minister shakes his head. I move—
Surely he cannot expect us, after the resolution the other night, to vote this £20,000?
I hope the hon. member will not press this. Let me explain it. Before the discussion came on the other day I had put down, with the consent of my colleagues, a sum of money, half the total amount of the total scheme, which would enable us to make a start with the essential requirements. To-morrow morning the Select Committee on Internal Arrangements is being called together to consider a slightly amended scheme which I have now put up. From what I can gather it is more than likely that we will be able to reach an agreement because the amended proposals for utility services departed very little—not at all in size—from the original proposal. The outward appearance of the original proposal is exactly the same. If we can come to an agreement it will be a start with the total scheme, but if members are going to cut this out I am afraid we will not be able to start. I want to help to get the necessary accommodation the House wants. I wanted to meet the point of view put forward by the Select Committee, but the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) got up and said—
Now they are talking about taking it out of the estimates. Not only is it going to inconvenience members, but it is also going to inconvenience the staff. The Hansard staff and the staff of the House are working under great difficulties. I would ask members to leave this alone. Let the select committee meet; and if we cannot come to an agreement, well, the money will not be spent. But it is there, and if we do agree it will enable us to go on with the scheme and do as much as we can. I am doing my best to meet the requirements of the House, in accordance with the wishes of the Internal Arrangements Committee.
I do not know whether the hon. Minister has the right to retain the amount on the estimates. The rules of the House say that if a matter is thrown out by the House then there is an end of it. Now the Minister proposes to call the committee together to-morrow to make another proposal to the House. I do not believe that can be done.
The hon. member is wrong. The proposal was withdrawn and not rejected.
I want to point out to the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel) and the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) that the Minister has now admitted that, before he can press through any altered scheme, he has to consult the Committee of Parliament to which the Parliamentary buildings are delegated, and I hope hon. members will not press for the deletion of the item. Now that the rights of Parliament have been duly asserted, I trust the House will agree to the matter being referred to the committee tomorrow. If the committee agrees to these plans, they will come to the House in the ordinary course, for approval. As already pointed out by the chairman, the report was not negatived, but withdrawn. The House came to no conclusion on it.
I hope we fully understand that the report will come before the House again. We do not want to be finally committed to big alterations. Many of us have our minds northwards, and it is an important point, That is one of the reasons why, before any alterations are made, the House should have an opportunity of deciding whether the alterations should be made, and the money spent or not.
I have been casting an eye over this Vote B, and comparing it with the statement of the Minister at Port Elizabeth just before the session. He said that one thing he was going to do was what Sir Gordon Sprigs said he was going to do in 1878; what Mr. Rhodes said he was going to do in 1898; and what Mr. Merriman said he was going to do, but had no money, and what Gen. Botha said he was going to do, but didn’t. The Minister said that now he was going to do it himself.
Let me see that.
I will give the Minister the original newspaper report. You cannot always blame it on the newspapers. I want to know what this mysterious benefit is.
Which item is the hon. member discussing? The hon. member must tell me what item he is speaking on.
I was really curious to know—
I suggest that the hon. member discuss the vote.
I am discussing it on this Parliamentary vote. Is this matter of the structural alterations to this House the mysterious benefits the Minister referred to?
The Minister tries to hedge by saying that he never said this. As member for Port Elizabeth (Central) I am entitled to ask the Minister; He made a serious speech, stating that he was going to carry out this mysterious operation this session. I presume it is buried somewhere in this vote (b). Joking apart, I hope the Minister will at least throw some light in his cryptic utterance.
I want to ask a few questions. I see the Minister of the Interior is in his place. He has down provision for five additional hostels for child welfare; on four of these hostels no money has so far been spent. We are spending a lot of money on this child welfare. Then there are large re-votes, and new works for mental hospitals, the total being £142,161. At the Alexandra Mental Hospital it is proposed to spend £1,700 for quarters for the chief vocational instructor, and £5,000 for hot water supply, new boilerhouse, etc. Then there is a very large amount for Bloemfontein, over £26,000.
They are all re-votes.
Exactly, but nothing has been spent on them yet. I suppose the Minister has taken over the responsibility of spending the money. Then at Queenstown there are votes of £7,000 block for European males; £8,250, block for European females; £8,500, block for native females, and £7,980 for additions to the nurses’ homes, and so it goes on.
They are mostly re-votes.
Then at Port Napier it is proposed to spend £108,000, and £15,000 at Pretoria. If all these are re-votes and a start has not been made with the most important of them, why are these extra requirements put down?
The explanation is very simple. Most of these items are re-votes, but the greater part of the expenditure in the shape of mental hospitals is necessary for the simple reason that we must make extensions. Our mental hospitals are very much congested, and it is impossible to allow that state of affairs to continue. The natural increase of population of these mental hospitals is 500 a year.
Are we all going into the mental hospitals in time?
Well, the South African party is losing ground, so there is hope for the population.
What about child welfare? I would like some information on the re-votes at the bottom of page 3.
Four are re-votes and five are new works. Take George. There is need here for a new hostel to take the place of the old building which is to be used for other purposes. If the hon. member would take the trouble when he visits George to visit this institution and see the building in which a number of the boys are housed, he will agree that the housing conditions are disgraceful. It is an old dungeon.
What about the house for the principals?
It is one of the institutions I have taken over from the provincial administration, and we ask them to tell us what new works and expenditure are necessary for the coming year. This is one of those represented to us as necessary. We have to depend for our information in this case on the provincial administration. This institution was not under me before.
I would like to ask the Minister of Justice what is the meaning of £97,000 for an appeal court at Bloemfontein, and £11,000 for public offices at Benoni. And, perhaps, the Minister of Labour can give us some information about the £34,500 for a new range of offices for himself. Why does he want £34,500?
For the good reason that I want offices. If the hon. member will come round with me and see where the various offices for the Labour Department’s activities are spread over Cape Town, he will agree with me, it will be better to concentrate them in one office. We have a bit of it in Church Square, and another bit in the magistrate’s court, and we want offices so that the whole of the Labour Department’s business can be done in one place.
As far as Benoni is concerned, I can invoke the assistance of the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) that these public offices are absolutely essential.
Of course, that goes without saying.
It is a necessary work in a town which I may fairly say is a rising town with a law-abiding population.
And it has a population which is very well represented at Parliament. It is a necessary expenditure as far as buildings are concerned, and with regard to the amount that is a matter for the Public Works Department. The experts will tell us whether the amount is Correct. As far as the appeal court in Bloemfontein is concerned the administrative centre of the country is at Pretoria, and is well-housed in the Union Buildings. The legislative portion of the country is expensively housed in Cape Town and Bloemfontein, according to the Act of Union is the Appellate Division. It is essential that the housing at Bloemfontein should be placed upon the same level as the housing of the other parts of the three-fold division of the chief functions of the country. I do not think anybody would say that this amount is too great an amount for the appeal court, which has been practically in the position of a byowner in the Provincial Council Chambers at Bloemfontein for all these years. I think the sooner we have that appeal court completed the better.
What are you going to do with the Raadzaal?
That is being used by the Provincial Council. The appeal court is housed in rooms at the back of the Provincial Council Chambers. We are going to build the appeal court somewhat larger than it would be, so that we may house there certain public departments for which the space has become too small in Bloemfontein. Our present Supreme Court buildings are congested so far as our Master’s office is concerned. We are taking the opportunity in connection with the building of the appeal court of improving the housing of that particular office which requires housing.
I suppose my hon. friend is also responsible for the police vote? What is this £130,000 for Cape Town barracks and cells? It is a new work.
That is at Wale Street. I did not think the hon. member (Mr. Jagger) would attack a vote in Cape Town.
I am not attacking it. I want an explanation.
If the hon. member had gone over the Wale Street police station, as I have been privileged to do —after assuming office, not before—and as the Minister of Public Works has been privileged to do—both before and after assuming office—he would have seen that that building is very-old and entirely inadequate for the purpose. The other police buildings in the Union are very behindhand, and I am going to make-large claims on the Minister of Finance next year for police buildings, which are very inadequate indeed. As far as Wale Street is concerned, from what I have seen myself of that place, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that it is a place which is not even-worthy of Cape Town. You should have a better building there and a building that is at all events worthy of Cape Town. I hope the hon. member (Mr. Jagger) is not going to press his objection to a very necessary change, a change that will assist the police, and, I think, will add to the architectural features of Cape Town.
I agree with the Minister that police accommodation certainly at Wale Street and throughout the country is very badly in arrear, and he might well expend some money on that. I think he might, instead of coming down on the Treasury, for more money for his police stations, use some of the money that he is spending in putting up a judicial palace at Bloemfontein. You do not want a palace to house the Appeal Court, and I would suggest to the Minister that he might postpone that for a little and use the money in bringing some of the police quarters up to date.
I notice “Durban, new works, public offices of various departments, £88,000.” What are these? It seems a very large sum.
Do you know that Durban has had no new public offices for the last 20 years? You know how Durban has gone ahead, and the development that is taking place. Do you know that the Customs Department is right in the middle of the post office building? Before I took office this very congestion at Durban was the subject-matter of a special report by the Public Service Commission. A report was submitted stating that—
That is the Public Service Commission. It is in order to relieve that congestion that this has been put down, and it is the only service in the whole of the report, I think, which is based on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission in consequence of its inspection. If there is one service that is required—not merely on my authority—then it is this service.
There is another point I would like to call the attention of the Minister of Justice to in connection with this. Justice is being administered in the Appeal Court at Bloemfontein, not in a palace, but under tolerable conditions, but there is one place where it is administered under intolerable conditions, that is at the magistrate’s court at Johannesburg. I would ask the Minister to hesitate before he lays the foundation stone of new appeal court buildings in Bloemfontein, and ask himself whether Johannesburg has not a prior claim for its magistrates’ court. I see the Minister of Public Works agrees with me, so I hope he will put it to his colleague to try and divert this money to more necessary though perhaps humbler buildings.
Representations were made, and we knew what the position was in Johannesburg, and I have promised to go into the matter and bring it up in the next financial year. I have no doubt my friend, the Minister of Finance, will see me through in that.
With leave of the committee, amendment withdrawn.
Loan Vote B, “Public Works”, as printed, put and agreed to.
Loan Vote C, Telegraphs and Telephones”, £625,000, put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote D, “Lands and Settlements”, £700,000 put.
Where is the Minister?
The hon. member must address the Chair.
I must move that you report progress and ask leave to sit again, in the absence of the Minister.
I would ask the hon. member not to press this—
I don’t want to, but the Minister should be here.
I hope the hon. member will not press this. Oh, here is the Minister.
I would like to ask the Minister in regard to this £400,000 for land settlements purposes, purchase of land. I think we should have some explanation of that.
My hon. friend will know that in the Bill the House has passed—the Land Settlement Act—provision is made in future, under section 11 of the Act, instead of applicants paying one-fifth of the purchase price, they pay one-tenth. That makes a vast difference.
Are you going to spend all this money?
Yes, it may not be enough. For the whole of last year I have had 720 applications under this section, but for the first few months of this year I had 450 applications. I am expecting a lot of applications as soon as the Act is promulgated. I asked for half a million, but my hon. friend would not give it to me. There is no question that this amount of money will hardly be sufficient for the demands which will be made upon me.
I see you have an item Hartebeestpoort Irrigation Settlement, £73,100 for preparation of plots, and item 5, purchase and developments of land for native settlements £50,000, and item 6 (b) Elephant Reserve at Addo, £7,000. I think we should have some explanation of these items.
In regard to Hartebeestpoort, the hon. member will remember the other day when he put a question to me about the probationers, I explained that it was an expensive business, and that he would have some qualms of conscience about that. Out of this money I have to prepare the plots, level the ground, take out stones, stamp it, build houses and sheds, plough the ground and plant it, and that is why this amount is required.
How many plots are there?
So far I have 120 settlers, and I hope to add 60, which will make 180 altogether, and I expect to have 300 before I have finished. That is under the Act passed last year. Of course, it is a lot of money, but that is a new experiment. We are trying to educate people who will make good settlers. As regards the £50,000, the Native Affairs Department told me to put that in.
I will explain that.
Then we come to the £7,000 for the elephant reserve. There is a certain kind of elephant in the Addo bush, and it is not the elephant you find up north. They were nearly exterminated a few years ago. There is a very small farm on which the elephants roam, but it is too small, and they break out and do damage. If we want to preserve them we shall have to make provision for more land for them and for water. I went down to the Addo Bush, and I think it would be a great pity if we allowed these elephants to be exterminated, but that will be the case if we do not make this provision. Careful enquiries are being made to ascertain the best land to buy for the extension of their ground, and then we shall have the expectation that they will be preserved. I asked the Administrator if he would look after the elephants and a few buffaloes that are still left there, but he refused point blank. He added —
Being very anxious to preserve these elephants, I asked the Minister of Finance for £7,000, but I have had great trouble to get it.
As to the item of £50,000, the Minister of Native Affairs was very anxious to have £100,000 for the purchase of farms belonging to Europeans in the Native Territories. The land will be hired out to the natives and the money will be reproductive.
I am very pleased that £7,000 is to be spent to preserve these unfortunate elephants, but I hope that next year the Minister of Lands will go further and will look into the question of game preserves generally. There is really no statutory game reserve in South Africa at all.
What is the hon. member on now?
Am I out of order in expressing the hope that the Minister will extend the system next year by putting a larger amount on the estimates?
Now you are out of order.
I am not prepared to vote £7,000 for a sanctuary for elephants unless I get the assurance of the Minister that he will do something in the direction my hon. friend suggested, in connection with a sanctuary for game in other parts of the country.
Under Clause 6, “purchase of land for general purposes, £32,000.” May I express the hope that the Minister will use this money in stabilizing this game reserve question, because it will cost about that. It is a question which is interesting a large section of the public. There is no statutory game reserve in the Union. The existing reserves are mere creatures of regulation, and a Minister can cancel any existing game reserve by a stroke of the pen. Under pressure I abolished about a million morgen myself.
On a point of order, this is very interesting, but I submit the hon. member is obviously out of order as this Vote has nothing to do with buying land, I hope he will not press the matter.
I hope the Minister of Finance does not think I am trying to waste the time of the House. I feel very strongly on the subject of game preservation. Every year there is powerful political and other pressure brought to bear on the unfortunate Minister demanding curtailment of these game reserves and threatening—
It cannot come under this Vote. This is for a special purpose.
It says for general purposes.
It is not for game reserves, which heading are you referring to?
Heading No. 6.
The hon. member may proceed under that.
The position is that every year deputations come and threaten and bombard the Minister and insist on these reserves being curtailed and being allowed to graze their stock in these reserves. I have had the same thing and have had to give way. Until we make statutory game reserves they are not safe. The Minister ought to be able to say to a deputation of that sort that Parliament has fixed the game reserve for all time, “it is a national park and I cannot give it to you.” Until Parliament fortifies the Minister by making them statutory the game reserves are not safe. The Umfolozi Reserve was cancelled by a stroke of the pen, and until you make them statutory the other game reserves will be in danger.
I just want to say that the matter mentioned by the hon. member is having my full attention. As he knows there are difficulties with the land owners in the area of the reserve. During the recess I intend to deal with the matter, and if I find a solution my intention is to do what the hon. member suggests and to make a national park of the whole game reserve like the Yellowstone Park in America. I think we ought to go further and create a national reserve board to go into it and look after the animals, because influence will always be brought to bear on any Minister of any political party to make more ground available for a game reserve than was intended. The only thing now is to put one’s foot down once and for all and to say that this or that part must be earmarked for that purpose. There are always difficulties. I am only giving the rough outline of what I think should be done, and I hope to be able next year to bring forward a definite scheme
In regard to Item 5, purchase and development of land for native settlement, I understand that that is for the purchase of farms in the Lady Frere District for a native settlement. I do not know whether the Minister will be able to give me any information in regard to that. I would like to know the terms upon which this land is going to be sold to natives. This is a fairly large extent of country, and I know that the natives have been clamouring for more land in that part of the country for a number of years now. I would point out to the Minister that there is a fairly large piece of ground there, the estimated value of which is about £100,000. If you take half the farms for this native area and leave the other farms to the Europeans, the land in the hands of Europeans will be very much depreciated in value. Naturally a native settlement being brought into close contact with the land of European farmers will mean that the land of the European farmers is depreciated in price. I would like to know whether it would not be more advisable to acquire the whole of that land for the native settlement, and make some provision for payment of balances that will fall due to the farmers mentioned next year.
I regret that I cannot give the hon. member (Mr. Payn) much detailed information in regard to this matter, which belongs to the Native Affairs Department. All I know is that the Prime Minister was very anxious to get £100,000, but we had to cut down the amount. I understand that this sort of arrangement has been going on for some time already. This is not a new experiment at all. I cannot say exactly whether these are the particular farms that my hon. friend (Mr. Payn) refers to. I understand that, although the Native Affairs Department would have liked to have £100,000 this £50,000 will carry them through this year.
I would like some information in regard to Item No. 7, Survey of Native Locations. I do not know whether that matter comes under the charge of the Prime Minister.
I will get the information for you.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote E, “Irrigation”, £325,000,
I would like some information on this Vote. First of all I would like to ask the Minister about the item “Boring for farmers,” £22,000. I understand that the Minister is charging less than the cost price for this service. I do not think that is fair to the taxpayer. Charge cost price by all means. If you find water, the value of the farm is considerably improved, and surely it is only a fair thing to say that the farmer should pay the cost price for his boring. If you charge less than cost price you drive out private competition. Then under “Irrigation Loans” I see two items of £20,000 and £40,000 for the Great Fish River. I would like to know what the meaning of these two amounts is.
I see there has been a very big decrease in this vote, and I personally welcome it, but I would be glad if the Minister would give us a short statement as to how the decrease came about. I would like to know whether he has adopted a policy of marking time until these irrigation schemes which are in existence can be brought into shape, because I do hope that the Government will now put a stop to this system of irrigation adventure, building huge schemes like Hartebeestpoort and Olifants river. I believe they are a mistake; they are a tremendous expense, and I think the money could be used to much greater advantage. I admit they were built under the South African Party Government, but it was passed by both sides of the House. We are a young country; we have been groping about, and we have to pay the price for our experience. I do think something on the lines of the Irrigation Commission mooted two years ago should be done, and that no further big irrigation schemes should be sanctioned until the whole irrigation position has been thoroughly overhauled and placed on a sound footing.
I hope the Minister will not listen to the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). The price for Government bores must be further reduced. The present price is too high rather than too low. Many people live in districts which are being tried by the drought, and we are often surprised that people can live there and make a living. It is in fact only an existence, and a difficult existence. In such cases the State can surely assist the people with an insignificant little amount to bore for water so that they can remain there. In times of drought they can then import food as long as they have got water for their cattle. We know that this can be done in our country. I hope the Minister Will go further to reduce the boring fees, because the prices of £5 per day for the first ten days and £2 10s. per day thereafter are too high. I will not say that this is a good business undertaking, but those people live in semi-desert areas, and we must encourage them. We who live here where there is a regular rainfall are astonished that they can live.
I just wish to point out a difficulty in this connection. I agree that the Government can in no way spend money better than by assisting cheap farming, especially in the very dry parts, but the difficulty is that the private owners of bores immediately come and say that they are being ruined because the Government bores more cheaply. The difficulty of the Minister is further that he cannot use his discretion and say: I will bore in the Kalahari at a certain price and in Ceres at another price. I am only pointing out that it is not such an easy matter. I had much difficulty with private owners of bores. Even in Ceres as the hon. member possibly knows we had a case.
There are three owners of bores in Ceres that I know of who work at a lower price than the Government
Not in dry ground.
With regard to the general point raised by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), the position is this, that we have placed no new construction work upon these funds at all. I think it is time to take stock, and I agree entirely with what he said that the condition of irrigation in the country to-day is not a novel experience; it has been the experience of all other new countries, and at a certain stage stock is taken, and one endeavours to place things upon a proper basis. No one is blaming anyone for that; it is the ordinary experience. Our idea is we shall certainly not undertake any large work in future until we have a proper irrigation commission, which can act very much on the same lines as your Railway Board acts to-day. Then it removes the pressure from this part of the country or from that, and from the back of the Government and you have that commission going all over the country and being able to tell us what schemes should be tackled and what would be remunerative from the land settlement point of view. That is going to be our policy. It is a pity we could not get that legislation through this session, but I am not certain that that is a bad thing. We have about nine months or so in which information can be gathered up, and we can place a lot more data before the permanent commission when it is appointed next year. It may be possible though in connection with the commission which is sitting to-day, when it has given its second report, to appoint somebody who is likely to be on the permanent commission, to go on enquiring into schemes which have not yet been enquired into by the present commission, so that the country ‘can see that the preparatory work is going on. That is a point which has not yet been considered by the Cabinet, but which will be placed before it. The idea is to make the work continuous until the permanent commission is appointed. I think this breathing space is very welcome and that your permanent commission will perform a very good purpose in co-ordinating your scheme. In regard to the question of this £22,000 raised by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) this is really a subsidy for the farmers. This of course has been a contentious subject for years. Your Public Accounts Committee has always taken the view that the farmers should pay the full amount for that service. On the other hand, it has always been claimed that some assistance should be given to the farmers as far as boring is concerned. If you put the price higher than it is at present, yon make it impossible for the farmer to bear, and if you make it lower it is very hard for your private contractors to exist. Your farmer is always complaining that the present price is too high, and the contractor thinks it is too low, and I think when we find we have some figures somewhere between the two extremes, one is giving a fair price to both sections. One cannot say it is wrong to have a certain subsidy to assist boring operations, and we have practically adopted the figure at which this work was done before. That figure. I think, is on the whole a satisfactory one, although I admit we are paying a certain amount for the subsidy, but I think it is really a necessity, for water boring. In regard to the item Great Fish River, £20,000 and £40,000, this is money that has got to be lent now, and it is not really money we are expending. That money will be repaid when the plant in hand at present is re-sold. It is an amount that we are paying as an advance, which will be reimbursed as soon as the plant is sold. I do not think that is an unsatisfactory state of affairs.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote F, “Local Works and Loans”, £1,618,000,
I would like to draw attention to item A. The matter is one of very great moment to the provincial councils. There is no special allocation of £765,000 loan provisions to all provinces, including South-West Africa territory, so that we do not know the respective amounts to go to the various provinces. I think where the “details” are supposedly given in the Estimates it should be shown what the provision is for each of the five provinces. I have pointed out before that insufficient money is provided for the provinces, and that the only possible way in which they can get money for capital expenditure is from the Union Government as they are not permitted to borrow on their own account. The most that is ever allowed the Transvaal is about £300,000 a year. Its programme of works amounts to £1,800,000, and while that sum could not be spent in anyone year the grant from the Treasury is totally insufficient for the necessary bridges, hospitals and educational buildings. Fully £60,000 a year has to be paid for the rental of totally inadequate and unsuitable educational buildings in the Transvaal, because a necessary amount of capital has not been found for that province. The scandal has grown until at last we scarcely know which way to move. The former Minister of Finance simply said he had not the money and cut us down to the lowest possible amount, and his successor seems to follow the same line. Loan advances to the provinces from the time of Union have been as follows: To the Cape, £4,115.000; Natal, £1,340,000; Transvaal. £3,014,000; Orange Free State, £1,577,000; I think we in the north have a right to complain, so far as these advances are concerned, as the Cape has received over a million more than the Transvaal, though the latter is the greatest revenue producer in the Union. The Cape has paid back only 9½ per cent.; Natal, 6 per cent.; the Transvaal, 13 per cent.; and the Free State. 12½ per cent. I know the Minister is not going to earmark any portion of this Vote for special purposes, but £765,000 spread over the four provinces and South-West Africa is inadequate, and the Transvaal, I fear, will not get even its fair proportion. We want to build a hospital at Pretoria that will cost £200.000. but it is no use commencing unless we get adequate loan provision. [Time expired.]
My friend has been using arguments which are not strictly accurate. He has stated that the Transvaal have been greater sufferers owing to the financial stringency of this Government than the Cape. Let me tell him that for the last fourteen years the Cape has been the Cinderella of the Union. When we entered into Union expenses had been cut so low, schools had been closed, with the result that when the Convention laid down the principle of the basis of grants on the £ per £ principle from Union funds, the Cape got £88,000 less per year in proportion than the Transvaal. I don’t begrudge the Transvaal this advantage, but I do object to their using arguments which are not fair to the Cape and do not show the true financial aspect.
I see there is £14,000 in the loan for local works for the Vryburg Municipality. I thought this municipality was in a bad financial state. Has the Minister got security or is it a gift?
There is £765,000 loaned to the South-West territory. Surely this amount is being largely expended on the harbour works at Walfish?
Well, what is it for’
I don’t know, you are asking the question.
I ask the Minister to tell us how these works are getting on.
But that will come under the railway vote.
Then I withdraw the question.
The hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay) has raised this question about loans to the provinces for capital expenditure. It is true the amount is not allocated on the Estimates, but we have agreed with each province as to the actual amount they will have. To the Cape there is an ordinary loan of £165,000; Natal, £150,000; Transvaal, £200,000; Orange Free State, £150,000; South-West Africa, £100,000. The hon. member has also drawn a comparison between the capital expenditure allowed to the Transvaal and to the Cape during the years since Union. During those years the amount allocated to the two provinces has been equal, but during the first few years the Transvaal did not spend the amount allocated, whilst the Cape did, and that accounts for the difference in the total expenditure later on. As far as this year is concerned, we have given the Transvaal more or less what they asked. They had to forego a certain amount of capital expenditure, but it is not a serious matter. I have agreed to provide the necessary funds for the Pretoria Hospital. It will be spread over a period of three years. They can go on with the service and will not be hampered for want of funds as far as this particular hospital is concerned. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) raised the question of South-West Africa. Last year we also provided a similar amount, which they did not require, and we do not know whether they will require it this year, but in case they do require the money for capital expenditure we will be prepared to assist them. In regard to the Vryburg Municipality, this amount was voted last session. I explained then the full circumstances, but it could not be paid out because the contract in regard to the pipes was not completed. This is simply a re-vote.
I want to bring home to the Minister the fact that the Cape is a cool million ahead of the Transvaal in the amount allowed. Therefore, we are entitled to that amount to come square with the Cape. Our total requirements are far beyond the £200,000 to be advanced this year. I want the Minister to realize that we are not satisfied in the Transvaal, and we expect very much better treatment than we are getting under this provision. On the subsidy vote for education, I pointed out that the Cape is getting over £600,000 more than the Transvaal; and under another vote, for special advances to cover deficits provided for in these Estimates, the Cape is receiving a special advance of £73,000 thus completing £1,272,000 since 1923 to date. This does not include redemption of Cape school loans of £344,000 the free gift of Parliament, In view of these facts the Transvaal province has good reason to complain of its treatment under both subsidy and loan provisions.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote G, “Land and Agricultural Bank,” £850,000,
Sometime ago the Land Bank wrote off a fair sum of money, I think about £200,000, on certain advances made when mealies were high. I notice from the report that that is written off their capital account. Surely it ought to be written off the reserve fund account. I see the bank has a reserve fund of £622,000. I have made some enquiries and I understand that this is a matter of the law. Is my hon. friend the Minister going to alter it?
The hon. member will know that when I introduced the Bill last session I informed this House, I believe, certainly I informed another place, that my intention was that this amount should be written off the reserve fund and not the capital account of the bank. I understand now that some difficulty has arisen in regard to the interpretation of the law. I do not quite agree with the interpretation, but in the Financial Adjustments Bill, which will probably be brought forward to-morrow, I am going to put the matter beyond any doubt.
Vote put and agreed to.
Loan Vote H, “Forestry”, £200,000, put and agreed to.
Loan Vote J, “Native Affairs”, £200,000, put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote K, “Agriculture”, £35,000.
I want to ask the Minister a question about this Vote. I see there is an item, Sugar Experiment Station in Natal. £10,000. This has been on the schedule for two or three years to my knowledge. I should have thought a wealthy business like the sugar industry could afford to pay it themselves. Surely they do not require £10,000 from the Government to put up an experiment station. Perhaps my hon. friend will give me some information.
This also is the work of the former Government. They promised the people to establish an experimental station for sugar planting in Natal and we cannot break the promise. I met a deputation and said I was willing to lend them the money for it. The object is to investigate the best kind of sugar cane and the best means of preventing disease in the cane. It is absolutely necessary for the industry. The hon. member says they are rich, but it is nevertheless the duty of the State to help them even if they are rich.
Will they pay interest on the £10,000?
Yes, I think after five years.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote L, “Electricity Supply Commission”, £1,200,000.
I see here there is £1,200,000 for electricity supply. I would like to ask where they are going to spend this. What ideas and plans have they got as regards the expenditure of this amount?
The issues to date amount to £74,000. The Commission has asked for £1,645,000 made up as follows: Cape Town, £454,000; Durban, £139,000; Sabie, £58,000; Witbank, £969,000; and administration expenses £25,000. The total loans required will be £2,667,000 for various undertakings, plus Colenso which at present is debited to the railways and harbours. It will cost £2,478,000. This will make a total scheme of £5,145,000. The hon. member knows that the Commission has no funds. It has either to borrow itself or come to the State, and we have decided it would not be in the public interest to require them to make their own arrangements.
Vote put and agreed to.
Loan Vote M, “Special Advances to Provincial Administrations”, £425,000. put and agreed to.
On Loan Vote N, “Labour”, £200,000,
Could the Minister of Labour tell us what proportion of the advances issued to tenant farmers has been recovered from the proceeds of last year’s crop? An amount of £30,000 was issued up to 3rd April, as advances to tenant farmers. £8,000 of that was issued in the form of subsidies—it being understood that the amount was recoverable when the crops should be reaped. Most of the crops will have been reaped by this time. Has any portion of the sum issued been recovered?
I cannot tell the hon. member. The tenant farmers have a period of one or two years free of interest, and the repayment does not begin immediately after the first crop is reaped.
Vote put and agreed to.
Loan Vote O, “Defence”, £140,000, put and agreed to.
On “Defence Endowment Account”, £143,000,
The committee will take into consideration the defence endowment account, £143,000.
This is all money that has been recovered by the Defence Department from property left them by the Imperial Government?
It is all simply the result of disposing of properties and using them.
Vote put and agreed to.
On the motion of the Minister of Finance it was agreed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
reported that the Committee had agreed to the Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure, South African Railways and Harbours without amendment and the Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure from Consolidated Revenue Fund without amendment, and stated that he would bring up a report at a later date.
Progress reported; House to resume in Committee to-morrow.
The House adjourned at