House of Assembly: Vol5 - FRIDAY 17 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
Mr. B. J. PIENAAR, as Chairman, brought up the Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Public Accounts (on Meyer and Charlton Gold Mining Agreement).
Report and evidence to be printed and considered on Monday.
Mr. SPEAKER, as Chairman, brought up the Fourth Report of the Select Committee on Internal Arrangements, as follows—
E. G. Jansen, Chairman.
Mr. SPEAKER stated that unless notice of objection was given on or before Tuesday, 21st instant, the report would be considered as adopted.
I should like to know from the hon. the Prime Minister what business more or less will still be done, and what will have to stand over. I attach particular importance to Order No. 31, the amending Bill of the Masters and Servants Act (Transvaal and Natal). I think that I am in order in mentioning it. I should like the Prime Minister to say whether he sees a chance of giving us time to deal with the Bill in this session. I think that I am right that the hon. the Prime Minister assured us that if we came to agreement in the Select Committee, he would give facilities to the Bill. I think that that was the understanding. The Select Committee devoted a fairly long time to it, and they came to agreement. I therefore think that it is fair that we should ask the hon. the Prime Minister to give a day or half a day or a few hours for disposing of this Bill. As far as we can see there will be no opposition to it. I do not know whether the friends on the cross benches will have any objections, but in any case the Select Committee was of opinion that if we allowed some of the provisions of the Bill to drop, the Labour party would make no objection. I hope the hon. the Prime Minister will take this into consideration. There can be no question about the importance of the Bill.
The hon. member cannot discuss the Bill. He can bring out the importance of it, but not discuss the Bill generally.
I just want to mention one section to indicate the urgent necessity and importance of the Bill.
The hon. member can refer to it, but must not enlarge upon it.
The chief magistrate of Johannesburg, Mr. Young, who has had much experience, points out the importance and necessity of coming to a decision. In his report he points out how necessary it is for the Transvaal and what great difficulty the farmers there are experiencing to-day. He has advocated certain amendments in the Bill and the amendments have been made in Select Committee. We tried to meet certain urgent difficulties in Natal in the Bill. I, therefore, hope that time will be given for the further discussion of this Bill.
I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question. I suppose this means that next week we shall have to sit from 10.30 in the morning until 11 o’clock at night.
When are we to have the time to study some of these Bills? There are no fewer than four important Bills from the Treasury. There is this Customs Tariff with 43 clauses. The last time we had a similar Bill before us, it went to Select Committee, where it was carefully examined. Then we also have a Bill dealing with licences. We expect on the Table this afternoon this Railway Construction Bill. We ought really to read the reports of the Railway Board. I do not see how we are going to have much time, except Sundays. There are other Bills too. I speak seriously; we are making a mistake with this rushing business. Only this morning in the city my attention was called to what seems to be a grave omission in the Income Tax Bill, which is going to cost us some money. I am as anxious as anyone else to get closed down, but we ought not to rush things through at the end of the session.
I wish to support what has been said by the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) as to the urgency for the passing of the Masters and Servants Law Amendment Bill. The chief magistrate at Johannesburg, in commenting upon the defects of the present Masters and Servants Act, said—
Hon. members may have observed a disquieting report in the “Cape Times” of two days ago, with reference to certain occurrences on a sugar farm in Zululand, in which it appears that a sugar planter had a most elaborate system of guarding his natives whilst at work on his estate, and locking them up at night. I should like the Prime Minister to consider whether, apart from the Court proceedings, from the point of view of his own department of Native Affairs, some sort of enquiry should not be undertaken in regard to these incidents. These occurrences furnish evidence of the fact that, owing to the declaration by magistrates in Zululand that the natives concerned do not come under the Masters and Servants Law, the planter was taking the law into his own hands. I make no excuse for him. I very much de precate occurrences of that sort, and I think it would be the wish of every right-minded planter in the country to see that occurrences of that sort do not happen again.
Isn’t that case sub-judice?
I am not referring to the merits of the Case. Apart from the court proceedings, the disquieting statements made with regard to this occurrence might well form the subject of some investigation in the public interest. I refer to that to indicate that, where the position of the master in relation to the servant is so indefinite as it is in Natal at the present moment, occurrences like this are rather apt to be brought about owing to the temptation to the employer to take the law into his own hands.
I may just say that I have every sympathy with the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). I consider his remarks entirely fair. Unfortunately, things are happening just as in the past that the important financial measures come at the end of the session. We have already sat a long time and everyone desires to get away. If it is at all possible we will see next year that these measures are not introduced so very late in the session. I want to say to the hon. member for (Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) that there is no chance of bringing that Bill before the House now. He said that I promised to give such an opportunity if the select committee reached unanimity in the matter. I made the promise on condition that he would at once agree to allow the matter to go to a select committee. He did not do so, but allowed the debate to continue for two days and, therefore, did not fulfil the condition which I made. I quite agree with him that the position of the squatters must be dealt with. I am aware of Mr. Young’s letter which shows how necessary an amending Bill is, but just because it is such an important problem we cannot hope to solve it entirely by the Bill mentioned. It is one of the portions of the general native question which, in my opinion, must later on be so laid before the House and the public that we shall have a general view of the matter. We are now so far advanced in the session that we cannot go on with it. The same applies in answer to the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick).
Motion put and agreed to.
Leave was granted to the Minister of Railways and Harbours to introduce the Railways Construction Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time.
Will my hon. friend read the schedule for the information of the House?
The CLERK read the schedule as follows:
Lines of Railway Authorized.
Route of Line of Railway.
Addo to Kirkwood (agricultural railway)
Balfour to Seymour (2 ft. gauge) (agricultural railway)
Bothaville to Bultfontein (agricultural railway)
Brits to Beestekraal (agricultural railway)
Ceres to Prince Alfred Hamlet (agricultural railway)
Citrus to Biaston (agricultural railway)
Derwent to Blinkwater (agricultural railway)
Empangeni to Nkwaleni (agricultural railway)
Ficksburg to Groenfontein (agricultural railway)
Greytown Branch to Rietvlei (agricultural railway)
Hermon to Porterville (agricultural railway)
Imvani to St. Marks (agricultural railway)
Joubertsdal to Witfontein (agricultural railway)
Klaver to Bitterfontein (agricultural railway)
Klerksdorp to Maquassi (agricultural railway) and Vermaas to Ottosdal (agricultural railway)
Martindale to Southwell (agricultural railway)
Molteno to Jamestown (agricultural railway)
Naboomspruit to Zebediela (agricultural railway)
New England to Barkly East (agricultural railway)
Onderkaremba to Witvlei (agricultural railway)
Parys to Vredefort (agricultural railway)
Petrus Steyn to Lindley Road (agricultural railway)
Potchefstroom to Losberg (agricultural railway)
Somerset East to Bruintjes Hoogte (agricultural railway)
Wintersrush to Koopmansfontein (agricultural railway)
Bill to be read a second time on Monday.
Leave was granted to the Minister of Finance to introduce the Pensions (Supplementary) Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on Monday.
First Order read: Third reading, Death Duties Act, 1922, Amendment Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Second Order Read: House to go into Committee on the South-West Africa Constitution Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 22,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 23,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 27,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 35,
On the motion of the Prime Minister, certain amendments were made in the Dutch version which did not occur in the English.
On Clause 38,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
New Clause 39,
- (1) The High Court of the Territory shall have jurisdiction in all matters in which the validity of an Ordinance shall come into question.
- (2) No magistrate’s court shall be competent to pronounce upon the validity of an Ordinance and every such court shall assume that every Ordinance is valid. Agreed to.
On Clause 42,
Perhaps I may just say that the parts meant by the amendment are given up to the protectorate by proclamation and it is not desirable to exclude them now.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 44,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On the Schedule,
On Part I of the Schedule,
I wish to move an amendment to sub-section (3) of paragraph 2 relating to the disqualification of voters. I move—
I am quite prepared to accept this amendment. I know that here in the Union this matter has been a bone of contention for many years, and there are a good many people who have been against this provision. As far as South-West is concerned, I am quite prepared to accept the deletion moved by the hon. member (Mr. Madeley). Apart from any arguments which may be used against it, I know that in South-West a provision of this kind is quite superfluous and will be for years to come.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Part 1 of the Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Part 2 of the Schedule,
To omit paragraphs 7, 8 and 9, and their respective headings, and to substitute:
Registering Officer’s Duty After Claims Dealt With.
7. As soon as possible after the latest day for the lodging of claims, the registering officer shall frame—
- (a) An alphabetical list of all claims so lodged which have been allowed by him;
- (b) an alphabetical list of all claims so lodged which has been disallowed by him.
The last mentioned list shall state in each case the reason for the disallowance. The lists mentioned in (a) and (b) shall be, respectively in the forms set forth in annexures (D) and (E) to this schedule.
Lists of Allowed Claims and Disallowed Claims to be Posted Up.
- (1) The registering officer shall cause copies of the alphabetical lists framed under paragraph 7 to be posted or affixed in the same place or places where the provisional list framed by him was posted or affixed, and as close as possible to the said provisional list. Those three lists shall, until the close of the latest day for lodging objections, remain so posted or affixed between the hours of seven in the morning and five in the afternoon daily.
- (2) Subjoined or annexed to such lists posted or affixed as aforesaid shall be a notice signed by the registering officer which shall be written in the English, Dutch and German languages and shall be in substance as set forth in annexure (F) to this schedule, and shall state the designation or name of the revising officer appointed, and the date, time, and place on and at which the revising officer has notified that he will attend for the purpose of amending, revising and settling the voters’ list for the magisterial district. The said date shall not be less than fourteen days after the latest day for lodging objections fixed in the notice mentioned in paragraph 5 (3). The notice shall invite persons desiring to establish claims or objections to attend personally or by agent authorized thereto in writing, at the time and place specified. The notice shall, not less than fourteen days before the date fixed for the holding of the revision court as herein provided, also be published by the registering officer in the “Gazette” and in some newspaper circulating in the magisterial district. Such notice shall be published as often as the registering officer may deem necessary.
- (3) The registering officer shall also give notice by letter through the post or delivered in such other manner as he may determine—
- (a) to all persons whose claims have been disallowed by him;
- (b) to all persons who have objected in writing to the right of any person enrolled on the provisional list to be so enrolled, or to the right to be registered as a voter of any person whose name has been included in the list of claims allowed by the registering officer;
- (c) to all persons who have been so objected to;
and the registering officer shall, in the notice referred to in (a) state the fact of and the grounds for the disallowance, and shall in the notice referred to in (c) state the ground of objection, and shall in every notice under this sub-paragraph state the date, hour and place fixed for the holding of the revision court as hereinafter provided.
Registering Officer’s Duty After Lists of Allowed and Disallowed Claims Posted Up.
9. Thereafter, the registering officer shall frame a complete alphabetical list, which shall be in substance in the form set forth in annexure (G) to this schedule, of all persons whose names have been included in the provisional list or list of allowed claims, and shall transmit to the revising officer appointed as in paragraph 13 is provided, such complete alphabetical list, together with a copy of the list of disallowed claims and the original claims and objections lodged with or handed in to him whether the claims have been allowed by him or not.
To omit paragraphs 11 and 12, with their respective headings.
In paragraph 14, in the second line, to omit all the words after “shall” down to “Revising Officer shall” in the twelfth line; in the thirteenth line, to omit “said” before “notice”; and in the same line, after “notice” to insert “referred to in paragraph 8 (2)”.
In paragraph 15, in the fourth and fifth lines, to omit “name has been removed from the provisional list or whose”.
Before paragraph 17, in the heading, to omit in the first line “Name has been removed or”; and in the second line, to omit “on objection to it”.
In paragraph 17, in the first and second lines, to omit “name has been removed from the provisional list or whose”.
In paragraph 18, in the second line, to omit “which has not been allowed”.
In paragraph 21, in the first and third lines, respectively, after “one” to insert “electoral division or;” in the fourth line, after “which” to insert “electoral division or;” in the seventh line, after “every” to insert “electoral division or;” and in the last line, after “of the” to insert “electoral division or”
In paragraph 25, sub-paragraph (2), in the fifth line, to omit “(I)” and to substitute “(H)”.
To insert the following new paragraph to follow paragraph 25:
24. There shall be a registration of voters in every electoral division commenced not later than two years after the date of commencement of the first general registration under this schedule, and thereafter there shall be an annual registration commenced not later than the last day of August in each year.
On the motion of the Prime Minister, certain amendments were made in paragraph 15 of the Dutch version, which did not occur in the English.
Part II of the Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Part III of the Schedule,
In paragraph 59, in the second line, to omit “of any electoral division”.
In paragraph 62, in the first line, after “provisions” to insert “of sections 62 to 66 inclusive and”, in the second line, after “time to time” to insert “or as modified by this paragraph or by the Governor-General by proclamation in the ‘Government Gazette as in this paragraph provided”; and to add at the end of the paragraph “: Provided that the trial of every election petition shall take place before the High Court which, for that purpose, shall consist of the judge thereof and two magistrates, selected by him: Provided further that the Governor-General may by proclamation in the ‘Government Gazette’ modify any provision of chapter III of the said Act as amended in regard to election expenses or modify or declare inapplicable any provision of any of those chapters, if it appears to him that such a provision is unsuited to the circumstances of the territory”.
In annexure (B), in the sixteenth and seventeenth lines, to omit “attend personally or by an agent authorized in writing at…………. on” and to substitute “lodge his objection with the undersigned at the said address on or before”; in the eighteenth line, to omit “and lodge his” and to substitute “which”; in the same line, to omit “which”; and in the nineteenth line, to omit “writing and in’.
In annexure (C), on page 48, in the thirteenth line, to omit “the name” and to substitute “enrolment”; in the fourteenth line, to omit “being retained on the” and to substitute “whose name is or who has claimed to be included in the provisional”.
In annexure (D), in the fifth line, after “Assembly” to insert “whose claims have been allowed”.
To insert the following new annexure to follow annexure (D):
Magisterial District of………………………
List of persons not included in the provisional list of voters already framed and posted who have lodged their claims to be placed upon the list of voters in the above magisterial district for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly, whose claims have been disallowed.
Dated this…………. day of…………….. 192…
Name in full.
Residence and Postal Address.
Occupation, Trade. Profession or other description.
Reason for disallowance of claim.
To omit Annexlire (E) and to substitute the following new Annexure:
Notice to be Annexed to List of allowed Claims and List of disallowed Claims.
Magisterial District of………………..
Registering Officer’s Notice of Revising Officer’s Court.
Notice is hereby given that the Revising Officer………… will attend at………… on the…………… day of…………… 192…at………… o’clock a.m., for the purpose of amending, revising, and settling the Voters’ List for the Magisterial District of……………
All persons whose claims have been disallowed by the Registering Officer, and all persons who have objected in writing to the right of any person enrolled on the said Provisional List to be so enrolled, or to the right of any person claiming to have his name registered as a Voter to be so registered, and all persons who have been so objected to, may appear before the Revising Officer at the time and place aforesaid for the purpose of establishing their said claims or objections. All claimants and objectors must appear either personally or by an agent authorized thereto in writing.
Dated at……………, the…………… day of………….. 192………..
To omit Annexures (G) and (H).
Part III of the Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.
Preamble and title put arid agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; to be considered on Monday.
Third Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported yesterday on loan estimates. ]
On loan vote A, “Railways and Harbours”, £6,600,000, standing over,
I understood this vote A stood over last night simply because we had not passed the Bill for the taking over of the New Cape Central Railways.
I intended to move it.
Does that mean that if we agree that this vote A is passed?
I may point out that the brown book (Estimates of expenditure on capital and betterment works) is not before us. He cannot move any amendments on it.
But I want to have something to say in reference to that vote of £6,600,000, and I have to refer to the brown book.
In discussing this motion, the hon. member may make use of the brown book.
How would it do to take the brown book separately?
The brown book is not before the committee.
Surely the brown book is for the information of the House. We ought to make free use of it.
The hon. member may make free use of it. It is for the information of members, but the Chairman does not put the items.
In any case, I see the Minister proposes to spend a considerable amount on new lines now under Construction. Is this extra expenditure on account of the employment of white labour?
It has been the custom to charge the unemployment vote with the cost of the expenditure on tent age, tool sharpening, tools, transport, medical attendance and other similar charges. That has been abolished, and the Railway Administration now carries the full responsibility of all these charges and we recover nothing from the unemployment vote. That accounts for the increases.
It is very unfortunate that we have to wander about the whole of the brown book, and I would suggest that it would be better to refer the brown book to the committee, so that we can take the votes under the various heads. I have a white paper which has been laid on the table, and I do not know why it has not been distributed; it is of the greatest importance.
It is in your locker.
No, it is not. I want to raise the question of the electrification of the Natal railways. The cost of this electrification scheme originally when Parliament sanctioned it was £3,318,000, exclusive of the cost of locomotives. Last year a further vote was passed for an additional half million, and row we are told that still another half million is required. That is the cost of construction. The constructing of the power station, lines and sub stations and other electrical equipment.
Whose baby is this?
What is the matter with the hon. member? Of course, it was introduced by our own Government, but am I not entitled to say a few words about it? If anybody opens his mouth in criticism of this all-virtuous Government, he is doing wrong. We are asking here for £1,000,000 more for this electrification scheme than Parliament was told it would cost when originally sanctioned. It is a matter of public importance, and as members over there will not say a word about it, it is my business to do so.
We are tired of calling attention to your mistakes.
It was a perfectly good scheme at that time, and one the Government was justified in undertaking. I did not hear the hon. member on that occasion get up and attack it.
You didn’t give us the chance.
I thought the hon. member had some regard for the truth, but I see his imagination is running away with him. The hon. member had every chance of getting up and saying that the scheme was a bad one, if he thought so. This is a matter which demands the attention of Parliament. We were told the scheme was going to cost £3,300,000. Now we are told it is going to cost a million more than the original estimates, and that is not the whole of the cost. There is the cost of the locomotives, and I see they are now asking for 12 additional locomotives, and altogether the cost of this scheme is going to be about £5,500,000. That shows a large excess on the original estimates, and it is my business to call attention to it. That excess is due, apparently, partly to the railway administration and partly to the consulting engineers. The administration is responsible to the extent that they were in default with regard to deciding what the proper layout of the truck was going to be. There is a passage in the consulting engineers’ report on page 11—
We want an explanation from the Minister. The effect of the delay may be seen by a statement on page 16—
The delay is partly due, together with the additional expense, to the administration, and partly due to the consulting engineer, because the cost of the various particulars of the equipment have enormously exceeded the original estimates, and the committee ought to have an explanation why this large excess has come about. I don’t criticize the scheme. If the scheme had, been completed on the lines originally laid before Parliament, and the cost which we were advised would be necessary to bring it into working order had been adhered to, it would have been a sound and justifiable scheme. With the cost exceeding by 30 per cent. what was originally estimated, it becomes a serious question as to whether this scheme is going to be justifiable after all, or whether the money would not have been better spent in improving the steam traction in Natal and elsewhere.
Before the discussion proceeds, I think it would be well to accede to the request of the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) and deal with the question of electrification. Far be it from me to ask hon. members not to take notice of the position of affairs. It is the duty of Parliament to deal fully with the question. This matter has given the administration, as well as the management, very serious food for thought. We are committed to the scheme, and must make the best of it. We must carry it out so that we will be able to take full benefit of the scheme, as soon as completed. Last year, when I approached Parliament for the additional amount of £533,000, over the original estimate of £3,318,000, I laid a white paper on the table in which an explanation was given for the excess. I thought the matter of such importance, that I asked the consulting engineers, the general manager and the board, again to deal fully with the matter, and hon. members will find the result in the white paper now before them. If hon. members will refer to the report of the board, they will find that the additional sum required of £373,000 is dealt with on page 2 of the report of the board. They will see that it falls mainly under three heads—the power station, the sub-stations, and the overhead equipment. There are, of course, smaller items as, for instance, interest. A very much larger amount is required under that head on account of the longer time that the work has taken. Now, as regards the three main items, let me deal, first of all, with the power station. Unfortunately, the intake of the power station was not sufficiently wide. The information, as is clearly indicated, which was available to the engineers was not sufficient to give them an indication as to the amount of silting which would take place when the Tugela comes down in flood. Owing to that, the intake of the power station was not sufficiently broad, with the result that, with the abnormal floods of last year, the whole of the intake was silted up, and the power station went out of action. That was most serious. It will be felt that it would be too great a risk not to take steps to cope with this matter. I think that the House will agree that we are bound, under the circumstances, now to take such steps as to ensure the working of the scheme whatever flood may come at any time. The consulting engineers consulted Mr. Kanthack in regard to this matter, and a conference took place between the consulting engineers, the chief civil engineer, and Mr. Kanthack, and they have now decided on a scheme which will cost in the neighbourhood of £53,000 and £55,000. That, of course, the consulting engineers are solely responsible for. As far as the departmental responsibility is concerned, there are certain items for which we are responsible, but those are the smaller items. The main responsibility rests upon the consulting engineers.
How about the delay specified by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan)?
I will deal with that a little later on. There is also the weir which was constructed in the river above the power station. That was a purely departmental work. The chief civil engineer thought that a cheap weir thrown across the river could deal with the whole position satisfactorily, but again the floods came, and the weir silted up. We are now considering the whole position, and have asked the directors of irrigation to advise. The additional expenditure in connection with the power station will be about £80.000. That is the first item on which the estimates have been very much exceeded. The other items are substations and overhead equipment. There can be no question that the consulting engineers are responsible, subject, of course, to the point I shall deal with later as regards the question of delay. If hon. members examine the report of this consulting engineers they will see that Messrs. Merz & McLellan fully admit that. They pointed out that they had peculiar difficulties to deal with on the system here and, that being so, the cost has been far higher than they anticipated. I want to say that, what is to my mind an unsatisfactory feature, is that the consulting engineers did not ascertain this last year. When they asked the department and the administration to come to Parliament for an additional amount, they did not then foresee that the amount of £533,000 would be insufficient. I think it is only fair to the consulting engineers to say that, in the first instance when the scheme was evolved and the estimates were prepared, that undoubtedly took place under rather extraordinary circumstances. I am not casting any blame upon anybody, but the position is that originally it was intended to electrify the line from Maritzburg to Durban. My predecessor, the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) went to Natal and investigated the question on the spot, and he came to the conclusion that, with the deviations which had been made, and the double line which now exists between Maritzburg and Durban, it would not be advisable to electrify that portion of the line, but that the electrification should rather exend from Maritzburg up. That meant that the consulting engineers had to throw overboard the scheme which they had worked out between Maritzburg and Durban and work on the other scheme. There is no doubt that that scheme was rather hurriedly drawn, and I think there is some reason for the engineers to say that under those circumstances the estimates have been prepared under abnormal conditions, but I want to repeat that I think the consulting engineers did not pay sufficient attention to, and did not sufficiently realize the importance of, the whole question of under estimate. At the same time, I think hon. members must realize that the consulting engineers have put forward a very full report and have taken full responsibility. It is also only fair to the Consulting engineers to point out that last year was a year of abnormal traffic on the Natal system. The distribution of material could not take place during the week, but had to take place on Sundays, and the rush of traffic during some weeks was so great that we could not deal with it satisfactorily through the week, and the result was that we had to do Sunday working and consequently the distribution of material, even on Sundays, was very seriously affected. The increased price of material undoubtedly is another element. Hon. members should study these reports carefully, and give attention to the excess, but I do not see how under the circumstances I can do otherwise, but come to the House, ask for the additional sum, and request the House to vote it in order that the work may be completed. With regard to the question of dual control, the consulting engineers point out that there has been a certain amount of dual control, and that to a certain extent is unsatisfactory, but they go on to point out that where you have got a railway in full working, and more especially on a line like the Natal system, which is taxed to the very fullest extent on account of the density of traffic, you are bound to have a certain amount of dual control. It is easy to be wise after the event, but in regard to the question of dual control, I am not prepared to criticize the position which my predecessor took at the time. As pointed out by the engineers, in India, where they have constructed work under similar conditions, the same system was adopted with satisfactory results. Before I sit down, let me say that I do not think we should pre-judge the whole position as regards electrification. The system is not yet in working order; we hope to have it in working order by the beginning of 1926. One section is already open for traffic, and we are having our difficulties, of course, which the consulting engineers assure me is the experience all over the world. This work of electrification in Natal is going to cost the country a very big sum, but, as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to give electrification a fair test and a fair opportunity of proving itself. It is true the figures submitted in the first instance regarding the financial results will naturally be affected by this increase in cost of a million. The traffic on the Natal system has, however, increased enormously, and there can be no question that within the next five years there will be a further very material increase. When the question is asked: “Will electrification pay under the circumstances?” I think we should leave the answer to the future. We should give the new system a fair opportunity of proving itself, in order that we may be able to know in how far we are justified in extending electrification on our system. I think we should call a halt after we have completed the Cape Town-Simonstown electrification scheme. After that has been completed, we should go carefully. We should give a thorough trial to the Natal system and the Cape Town-Simonstown system which will be inaugurated during 1926.
I do not quarrel with the Minister in regard to what he is going to do. Of course, he has to carry it on; we have gone too far to stop now, but I do think it is costing this country a million more than was anticipated, and someone ought to get the blame. That is the position. I feel pretty keenly about it. Had it been properly represented to us that it was going to cost £5,314,000, probably we should not have gone into it, because we had another alternative scheme, to double the line, which would have only cost about £2,000,000 Who is going to be called to book? I am afraid my hon. friend has taken too much the official view. I think there is some blame attaching to the administration in what they say here about the delay, that the plans were not prepared so quickly as they should have been.
I have explained that.
The rest of the blame belongs to the consulting engineers. That is the position, and it might as well be said straight out. The whole thing is extremely unsatisfactory. The country has to pay the piper, unfortunately, but it is costing a million more than we were told it would cost. I think the consulting engineers are deserving of blame; let me say that straight away. First of all my hon. friend says the estimates were prepared under abnormal circumstances. Certainly, to some degree, but there were also one or two benefits they got at the same time. They had the benefit of the tenders which had been sent in already for the line from Maritzburg down to Durban. They knew the prices they had to pay for a lot of material. Furthermore, there is this matter they mention about the railway fully working. It was working then about 18,000 tons a day. All these facts were known to them. The only additional factor was the increased traffic, but when they were preparing these estimates, 18,000 tons a day were being worked from Ladysmith down to Maritzburg. They knew the difficulties. Why was not allowance made at the time? The difficulties were there, staring them in the face. Then there is the excess of expenditure over estimates in regard to the sub-stations; and all that is very unsatisfactory; and, again, there is the matter of the overhead equipment. I do not think it is at all satisfactory, and I say, quite advisedly, that I do not think the consulting engineers are free of blame in regard to this I quite agree with the Minister in one regard, that we will finish this business of the Wynberg line, and I hope he is satisfied that the estimates put down here are going to cover it. It is quite possible, and indeed likely, that—perhaps not by so big a sum—they will not cover it. When we finish these two jobs I agree with him that we should have no more electrification until we have had experience of the whole thing. I hope he won’t spend a sixpence on further electrification. I believe had we known there was going to be this excessive cost we should not have gone in for it. My own idea at one time was to double the line, and I think it would have been much better, and certainly much cheaper. Do not go in for any more electrification until we have seen how this is going to turn out.
I would just like to ask the Minister of Railways and Harbours what the actual position is in connection with the work shops. We have heard that the position is very unsatisfactory and that it has been so for years. The former Minister of Railways and Harbours said that he knew nothing about the position. This is a very serious reproach on the officials, and I should like to have a clear statement by the hon. Minister on the matter and whether he does not think that it is the duty of a Minister to know what is going on.
I would like some information from the Minister. I cannot appreciate how he arrives at the amounts which he charges to renewals fund; but if he will refer to item 36, additional siding and platform accommodation for the catering department at Cape Town, he will see that the estimated total cost is £11,500, of which he is charging £6,000 to the renewals fund. I would also refer him to items 45, 263, 536 and 542. In regard to the 78 electric locomotives, you are charging £264,752 to the renewals fund, and in regard to the 12 additional electric locomotives to be imported (item 536a) £144,000 has been charged to renewals fund; but when it comes to importing ordinary engines, nothing is charged to the renewals fund. That is to say the electric engine, to replace nothing, is charged to renewals fund, and the ordinary engines which, I take it, are to a great extent to replace others, are not so charged. I would also refer to items 565, 567, 591. On the last-mentioned item, “Reboilering of engines,” £63,000 is charged to renewals fund; but for the alteration of 20 coaches nothing is charged. I should like to know what principle the Minister adopts in charging these amounts to the renewals fund. Why does he do so in one case and not in another. We have no idea at present how this system is worked. Then there is an item, 665, “Purchase of two steamships (replacement).” What are they replacing? We have asked this question several times and have not had a satisfactory reply, either from those giving evidence before the select committee or from the Minister.
There is another point in regard to that. I think the Minister ought to have investigated the complaint of the engineer about delays. The hon. member for Yeoville called attention to certain delays which Messrs. Mertz and McLellan blamed the engineers for; which delay was attributable to late settlement of plans. They say that permission was not given to the contractors to start work at Mooi River until November, 1924. That is a definite charge against our administration and should be looked into. It will be found, on page 11, headed—
about the middle of the page. Then I want to speak again about these electric locomotives, three of which are being used for a 1,500 ton train. We were assured that these engines would carry 1,500 tons. These locomotives cost £12,000 each, 12 having been ordered at a cost of £144,000. Does it take £36,000 to take a 1,500 ton train? My hon. friend says these are units. I have ascertained that units and engines are the same. Steam engines do not cost as much. There are four steam engines on these estimates costing about £11,000 each; but I cannot believe for one moment that it was ever the intention—certainly it was never the intention when I sanctioned the experiment—that three engines should be used for a 1,500 ton train. I want to know how that is. It is going to make an enormous difference.
I should like to know what the Government are doing in regard to direction finders. You are charging certain monies here for lighthouses and sirens; but what is the policy in regard to direction finders to enable ships to come into harbour in safety?
In regard to item 622, “Extension of south breakwater, Durban harbour, by 300 ft.”, a great responsibility rests on the administration in connection with any alteration to these works. I am not a marine expert, and therefore cannot say whether the extension is right or wrong, but I have no doubt the Government will follow the warning given in paragraphs 21 and 32 of the Wilson report to see that the width of the entrance is properly maintained and blocks are kept clear of the fairway. In the early days of Natal there was very great controversy in regard to these particular works. For the last 20 years large ships have been able to enter the harbour, there being in recent years 36 ft. of water at low tide on the bar. To-day there is great anxiety in regard to the safety of the entrance for the larger ships coming to the port. Any interference with the cant of the North Pier may be exceedingly costly; therefore the extension of the South Pier is, in my opinion, wise under the circumstances, but great care must be exercised to see, as the extension progresses, that the depth of water at the entrance is not being reduced. I would like to express great disappointment at not finding any provision in the loan fund estimates for deep-water berths at Durban. In order to cope with the expansion of trade it is absolutely essential that there should be more deep-water berths. These deep-water berths have been promised for some time, and I hope the Minister will take into very serious consideration the importance and necessity of these. There is also the question of double-storied sheds, which has been a sore point at Durban for many years. The advantage which has accrued from the erection of double-storied sheds at Table Bay docks should encourage the authorities to construct similar sheds at Durban. The coal industry is a very important one, and very large sums of money have been sunk in that industry in Natal. I am advised that the shortage of coal-trucks in Natal has never been worse than it is at present. Every year during the months of June, July and August there is the same shortage, and that being so, it is surprising that additional trucks have not been supplied. The mines are committed to great expense, but during the months I have mentioned only one-third of the labour force can be utilized because of the shortage of trucks. Consequently the collieries are run at a serious loss. I am speaking in the interests not only of the industry, but of the country as a whole.
The other day I made an attack on the administration through Col. Collins. I said that he had written a report in which he had damned himself. During the discussion the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) agreed with me, and said that when he was Minister of Railways the administration had never brought to his notice that £800,000 should be spent on workshops.
If so it is very bad. The old Minister said none of his officers ever discussed the matter of railway workshops with him. Will the Minister of Railways take this matter up with the general manager? One would have thought that the general manager of railways and Col. Collins would have discussed the matter with the late Minister of Railways.
Col. Collins did bring forward a proposition to establish separate workshops for manufacturing rolling-stock to cost about £5,000,000.
You turned down the workshops.
We know the hon. member looks upon civil servants as an abomination.
The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) is reported to have said—
The hon. member looks upon officials as an abomination.
We can easily get too many.
One of the reasons the hon. member did not always take the advice of the general manager was because he looks upon him as an abomination.
Here are your words.
That applies to a very different thing.
We know when the hon. member was Minister of Railways he and the general manager did not get on too well together.
The general manager was as strong a man as the Minister. They were like two Turks in a village. If the hon. member was never advised about the workshops I want to attack the administration, but I do not wish to do that unfairly.
I have been looking through the list of new works at Durban, and I Cannot find anything set down in the estimates with regard to the improvement of the Durban station. The Minister, I think, has been importuned with regard to the accommodation there. Has the Minister abandoned the idea of constructing the proposed mole at Durban? There is nothing in the estimates with regard to that matter.
I would like to associate myself with the words of the hon. member for Stamford Hill (Mr. Lennox) with regard to the improvement at the entrance to Durban harbour. We have heard that the entrance is not a safe one, and this item, 622, I take it, defines the policy the Government intends to adopt with regard to making the entrance safer than at present. I hope the administration and the Government will pay particular attention to this entrance as it presents a great difficulty in the matter of the navigation of large steamers.
If I reply to some of the questions now, it may check some that may follow. The hon. member for Stamford Hill (Mr. Lennox) and Durban (Point) (Maj. Miller) have raised the question of the position of Durban harbour. Let me say a few yords in general on the question of capital expenditure in Natal since Union. I find we have authorized to be spent since Union £20,000,000 in Natal, and to date we have expended £15,000,000.
And they talk about seceding.
I agree it does sound ridiculous. This year we have provided for £270,000 expenditure at Durban.
It is for the benefit of the Union and not for Durban.
I don’t suggest that we do it in the interests of the people of Durban, but I mention it to show that Durban has not been neglected.
One-third of the traffic passes over the Natal line.
I admit this, and for that reason we have spent this money. The hon. member has asked what the policy of the department is with regard to the Durban harbour, and more especially the entrance. My predecessor asked Mr. Wilson, the harbour expert, to come from England and investigate this problem, and associated him with Col. Nicholson, the advisory engineer. They put in a report which has been laid before the House. They recommended that the channel be cleared of the blocks. That has been done, and we have now a clear entrance. They also recommended the extension of the southern breakwater by 300 feet. We are taking a vote on account in connection with this scheme. They also recommended the removal of the cant. That I am not prepared to authorize at the present time. We should first gain experience of the result of the extension of the southern breakwater. I know that the pilots, captains and others, say that the cant should be removed, but we can get no estimate as to what it will cost. It is clear it will cost a large amount of money. The interests of Durban will, I trust, be well served by the steps we are taking. The hon. member has referred to the coal industry. The administration is fully alive to the interests of the coal industry. It provides traffic, and every step possible will be taken to assist the industry in its development both as regards the bunkering and export trade. I don’t think the coal interests have reason to blame the administration for their action in the past, or to say that they have been treated unsympathetically. It is the policy of the administration to assist them to extend their business.
They still complain of high railway rates.
Other industries are also complaining.
Not to the same extent. They have not the same reason.
The hon. member has noticed that Cape Town harbour has received double storied sheds, and is asking the same for Durban. I think Durban is well served at the present time, and until there is reason to extend the sheds, he should not ask for more. In good time Durban will get it if it is necessary. Then he referred to deep water berths. When the financial position will allow it, we are prepared to undertake this. I ask the hon. member to consult the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) about these additions.
I should supply a few deep water berths at Cato’s Creek.
After my hon. friend’s criticism of the loan estimates, I am surprised at his advocacy of more expenditure.
I will show you where you can save.
You have not shown it yet. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) has asked about the beam finders. As a principle they were not approved by Trinity House, and they do not think they were satisfactory. The hon. member has reverted to this question of the renewals fund and has asked why a certain amount is asked for renewals and what the underlying principle is. We charge to renewals the value of the existing assets and the increased value we charge to capital. That is the principle adopted through the whole of the estimates. We intend purchasing two additional steamships in order to replace one, which we intend disposing of, and provide another for general use. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) has again reverted to the question of electrification. He has referred to this question of units and engines, and has said that he has difficulty in understanding the position in this regard. Let me inform him what the actual position is. The electric engine is made of three, two or one unit according to the load. For a 1,600 ton load three units are required. The electric engines work 30 hours without stopping. The steam locomotive works 12 hours per day. The 78 electric engines have released 123 ordinary steam locomotives. In America at the present time electric engines are doing 7,000 miles without stopping.
But what is the cost of that?
It all depends upon the load and the gradient. We only employ one driver whether we use one, two or three units. I want to say, in regard to the original estimates that the hon. member (Mr. Jagger) will bear in mind that the original estimate was made for 20,000 tons traffic over the line.
It was then increased to 25,000, and now it is on the basis of 30,000 tons per day over the line. Let me conclude in regard to electrification with this: Although the electrification in Natal has cost us a million more than the original estimate, the administration is satisfied that we are getting full value in so far as it is possible for one to be satisfied in matters of that sort. There has been an under-estimate, but the information is that we have got full value for the amount we have ex pended.
What is the cause of the delay in the preparation of these plans?
I am going to deal with the point about delay. If the hon. member will read the white paper and refer to the report of the general manager (page 6), he will see that this question of delay is fully dealt with. That report clearly shows how the delays, as far as the administration were concerned, were caused, and I think is a clear indication that, under the circumstances, the delays were unavoidable. The hon. member for George (Mr. Brink) and the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) have referred to a statement which was made by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) when he dealt with the subject of the railway estimates on a previous occasion. The hon. member (Mr. Jagger) then said that while he was Minister he had had no information in regard to the serious condition in our workshops. He went further and asked me how I can hold him responsible, if the responsible officials did not bring these matters to his notice? If that were a fair statement of the facts, it would be correct, but I find that the hon. member is not quite correct, and that probably his memory has failed him in this regard. The hon. member will, I think, be the first to agree that a statement of that kind throws a very serious reflection on the general manager, the chief mechanical engineer arid other officers who are responsible, because, as was pointed out by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North), if they were aware of the conditions disclosed in this report, and did not bring it to the notice of the responsible Minister they would be guilty of very serious dereliction of duty. Let me deal with the actual position as regards the financial side, and give the House the facts which will clearly indicate that the officials are not to be held responsible. I have taken out the figures, and I find that during the financial year, 1921-’22, the money asked for from capital account for buildings and machinery in the workshops by the department, submitted to my hon. friend as Minister, amounted to £726,000. The amount which he actually authorized was £447,000. In 1923-’24 the department asked for £338,000, and the amount granted to them was £105,000. In 1924-’25, for which he was partly responsible, but I am quite prepared to share the responsibility with him, the department asked for £276,000 and the amount authorized was £116,000. I may say that since 1913-’14 I find that during that period the department has asked the administration from time to time for £3,341,000, and has actually been granted £1,291,000. So I think the hon. member will admit that in regard to the financial provision the department has certainly brought it to his notice that the needs were greater than he was prepared to grant. I am not now dealing with the point that the hon. member made. His reply is, as my reply, and that of any other Minister would probably have been, the money was lacking. That does not, however, deal with the point which the hon. member made, that these officers did not represent the true position to him. I want to draw his attention to a memorandum dated 1st November, 1922, which was submitted by the general manager to the hon. member as Minister. That memorandum I am prepared to place at his disposal. I will read a few extracts from it. The general manager, inter alia, says—
He then deals with the conception of such a workshop and he proceeds—
The memorandum then quotes from the report of these two officers in which they deal with the establishment of a boiler shop and a points and crossing shop.
Is it not for the purpose of beginning an entirely new workshop?
It is clearly indicated in the beginning that there is great necessity for the exercise of economy.
With which I cordially agree, of course.
Knowing the hon. member as we do, I ask him whether it did not strike him at once that he would want some more information about the matter?
That is rather extraordinary, coming from the hon. member. Here are responsible officials, putting up a report to him and saying—
The hon. member cannot say that he thought it was all a question of new workshops. The memorandum concludes—
The general manager goes on to say—
I now ask the hon. member for Cape Town (Central), in view of this memorandum which was submitted to him in 1922, and in view of the further information which is available over this question of the condition of our workshops, the need for economy, the need for new machinery, the fact that year after year, while he was Minister, the department came to him and asked him for more money for new machines, better lay-out, better buildings, and better facilities. I ask him is it fair on his part to blame the general manager, the mechanical engineer, and others concerned, to place upon them the stigma he has done by saying that he was not advised from time to time in this regarding these new workshops? If the hon. member now says he did not know, I want to say to him quite candidly that it was his business to know. Having these requirements put up to him in the responsible position as Minister it was his duty to have investigated the matter, and to have ascertained the facts. I hope the hon. member—I know he is great enough—will now withdraw that statement which I think he will, on reflection, agree, is an undeserved stigma upon the officers. As Minister he may have had differences with the general manager and other officers; all Ministers are bound to have them in a big department like ours, but, at the same time, let us be strictly fair and just to the officers concerned. The hon. member had his own difficulties; under the circumstances he was bound to restrict expenditure from capital account; but that does not give him the right now to reflect on officers who are carrying a heavy responsibility, and who are doing their best to carry it to the satisfaction of the country, and to serve the country to the best of their ability.
I do not see that this carries the position much further. The Minister says I cut down their demands for money. My policy is this: I am not a technical man or an engineer, but I do understand pounds, shillings and pence. I knew perfectly well that like all officials they came forward with very large demands—£10,000,000 and £11,000,000 were some times put up. I then made up my mind that we ought to spend, generally about £5,000,000 or £6,000,000. I would then say to them—
I left it entirely to the officials, and that, to my mind, is the only way my hon. friend can do it. What does he know about workshops and what is required here or there? The best thing is to make up your mind in consultation with the Minister of Finance how much you can allot, and leave it to the officials to allot it to various things. The principal thing in this memorandum was a requirement for a new workshop. I did not worry about anything else, as far as that was concerned. It was got up purely for the purpose of pointing out the desirability of an independent workshop. Is that not the case?
No; it dealt with a boiler shop and a points and crossing shop.
Well, let me say at once, I promptly turned that down; I thought we had as much on our fork as we wanted. About the other point, of course I say still that my attention was never called to the state of affairs as revealed in this report. I do not think the officials themselves really knew it to the full extent. How could they? My attention was never specifically directed to the fact. I am not blaming the officials for that, because, as I say, I do not think they knew themselves; certainly, the general manager did not know the extent of the inefficiency which is revealed by this report. I do not know how any Minister could have known what the position was. No; my hon. friend has the whole facts as far as I am concerned.
I see on page 16 the Minister has got down Johannesburg (first instalment) £250,000, and this year he proposes to spend £5,000. I was hoping, after the indications we have had from time to time, that something more substantial would be done during the current year. What is the Minister going to do with this £5,000, and at what rate does he anticipate that the new station will proceed?
In regard to the improvements required at Orchard siding, since provision has been made for these works, I only want to impress on the Minister the necessity of starting with these improvements at an early date. In January you get into the fruit season, when an enormous quantity of fruit is handled, both in and out, and the improvements should be complete at that time to be available for the people’s use.
The Minister incidentally referred to the fact that, of the large amount of money voted since Union, so much has been spent in Natal. We all admit that; but has it not been well spent? Where is your revenue coming from? Thirty per cent. of your whole railway revenue is derived from that little province. I think the removal of those loose blocks at the mouth of Durban harbour is going to do an enormous amount of good. They have long been a menace to shipping, and the Harbour Advisory Board has, for many years, endeavoured to get this done, and I am glad to hear that the work has been completed. The Minister, in reply to the hon. member for Durban (Stamford Hill) (Mr. Lennox) said he had great sympathy with him in regard to the coal position in Natal, but that does not help much in providing trucks for the carriage of coal. I hope not alone sympathy, but, trucks will be found. In Natal at present, there is more stuff to carry than the railways can handle, and I hope this question will be taken up by the Minister. I do not wish to cavil at the Minister’s decision to continue the south breakwater at Durban, and to leave the cant, because by the time the south breakwater is extended, a considerable amount of knowledge will be gained, and even after commencement to remove the cant it would be many years before it could be completed. In regard to the double-storey sheds referred to by the hon. member for Stamford Hill, there is nothing new about that; or about the deep-water berths. The Durban Harbour Advisory Board have been advocating both for years. The Minister need not say the idea was taken from Cape Town, because, before Cape Town had a double-storey shed, the advisory board of Durban were asking for one. I am glad to see that on the estimates there is a considerable sum for alteration of platforms and station at Pietermaritzburg, for which I am very grateful. This has been looked for many years and will be a great boon to the public.
In regard to the betterment of the railway on the south coast, the section Isipingo to Umbogintwini. This is the weakest section of the line, and carries the heaviest traffic. You can run the double load from Durban to Isipingo, but there the load has to be halved, as the bridges will not stand it. You may look for heavy increase of traffic on that line, in connection with the transfer of land from the Natal Native Affairs Trust recently approved of. The whole of that land will be taken up and become a large suburb of Durban. It means that, in a short time, you have to double the line from South Coast to Umkamaas. What does the Minister intend doing about it? He will have to get a further location for that line. He will have to eliminate Umbogintwini hill.
The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has accused the Minister of having an inordinately large Bill in regard to his workshops.
I never said anything of the kind. What is the use of exaggerating and saying what is not correct?
The late Minister went so far as to say—
The hon. member must accept the statement of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central).
I accept his statement that there has been no inordinately large expenditure.
I never alluded to it. Where is it in these estimates?
Will the hon. member rise and deny this statement?
The hon. member must accept it.
I accept it. One serious difficulty that the railways laboured under in regard to the late administration, is that there has been an undue postponing in connection with the obsolete works and machinery that all figure in this Bill that the Minister has to bring before us at the present time, and the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) seems to forget that he told us a little time ago that he was not going to build anything in South Africa, nor erect workshops, and if the Minister wants to go forward and increase the workshops for that purpose, I think it is somewhat churlish for the hon. member to take exception to that. We are prepared to support the Minister in that policy of increasing the workshops, and even if it costs a little more, to see that this stock; is built in South Africa.
I think we ought to have a little further information. I see it is proposed to spend £332,000 on deviations and construction of buildings on the Natal north coast line.
Do you object?
Will you mind your own business?
Order. The hon. member must address the chair.
I am doing so if hon. members would not interrupt. We have already spent on the Natal north coast line £308,000 for repairs and reconstruction of bridges damaged by floods. Then the sum of £367,000 is down for improvements in grade and location of the Umgeni-Verulam line; whilst for the same thing in connection with the Verulam-Tugela line the estimated total cost is £583,000. It means that on the north coast line we have spent £1,248,000, and now it is proposed to spend a further sum of £332,000. That calls for some explanation.
There is splendid traffic on that line.
It was all washed away.
I should be glad of further information on the following items: Doubling of main line from Nottingham Road to Kildwick, £34,607; uplifting of 10¼ miles of line from Matubatuba-Somkele, £55,600; cattle platform, sub-ways, etc., at Newtown, £16,000; installation of automatic signalling on the Cape Town-Wynberg line, £42,405. Is the latter item necessary, seeing that the line is to be electrified? Then there are £5,000 for improvements to passenger and goods station buildings and grounds in Cape Town; proposed new customs house, Rogge Bay, £54,429; and connections between railway property in urban areas with municipal sewerage system, £19,500. Is any of this in connection with the large scheme recently announced in the press for the building of a large hotel and so on in Adderley Street? These proposals appear from time to time, and then we never hear anything more about them. I would also like to call attention to the provision of £18,162 for the laying of asphalted roads at Cato Creek goods shed, Durban, and £24,380 for improvements to station, new locomotive yard, etc., at Balfour; £300,000 for new quarters; £16,000 for extension of conveyor belt at the Bluff at Durban; £70,000 for new carriage and wagon lifting shops and transfer of existing wagon shops at Bloemfontein, and £210,000 for new erecting and boiler shops and re-arranging machine shops at Durban.
I do not want to prolong the discussion on the question of the statement made by the hon. member as to the responsibility of officials, but I do want to say that I think the hon. member has gone pretty far in admitting that he went too far in making that statement. As far as I am concerned, I do not want to continue the discussion if the hon. member is prepared to say that the information had come to his hand, but he did not remember it when he made the statement in the House. It is quite clear, and I don’t think the hon. member will dispute it, that, as a result of this memorandum, the general manager fully discussed with him the Conditions in the workshops and pointed out that we required more money in order to deal with the position satisfactorily. I think the hon. member will admit that.
I admit they did not know themselves the real state of affairs.
The hon. member is evading the point. The evidence is all against that. The officials were aware of the position.
I said I did not think that they were aware of it.
The officials were aware of it, and brought it to the notice of the hon. member that it would be necessary to effect economies. What is the reply of the hon. member? The reply is “the system he adopted.” He tells the House—
In fairness to the officials, I ask him how he could adopt that system? I don’t call it a system.
It is the only way I could see out of it.
The hon. member is entitled to his own opinion on the way to deal with the department. But the hon. member must see the position, as was pointed out by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow). Col. Collins, as chief mechanical engineer, knew what the position was, and brought it to the notice of the general manager who drew the Minister’s attention to it, or he did not know until this enquiry. If that were the case, he would not be fit for his job, and we should make a change. I am convinced the officers knew and made representations to the Minister, but as a result of his unfortunate system he did not act. The system may be very well in his own private business, but when you come to dealing with affairs of State you cannot work on that system.
That is a question.
It is a question. The hon. member will realize that he is perfectly entitled to have his opinion as regards the system, but he has no right to reflect upon the officials in order to cover up the defects of his system. If the hon. member will say, as far as the officials are concerned, that they did their duty in bringing it to his notice, but as the result of his system, and the limited amount the treasury placed at his disposal, he was unable to carry out the programme, the position would be clear, although I Could not agree with him. I know the hon. member as a fair-minded man. In all my experience, I found him so, but I think he will admit that the statement he has made is not fair. A number of further points have been raised. The hon. member for Durban (Central) (Mr. Robinson) has raised the question of the station at Durban. I admit the position at Durban station is very unsatisfactory. We are cramped for space. The hon. member knows the position of the workshops, and that they encroach upon the space which should be occupied by the station. This matter is under consideration. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) has asked about the Johannesburg station. We are making a small beginning. The new station buildings are justified and we are now making the necessary arrangements with the town council. We have submitted the whole matter to them, and we are now preparing the plans and taking the preliminary steps in connection with the work. The hon. member for Worcester asked me about Orchards Siding. We shall proceed with the work as soon as possible. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (South) (Mr. O’Brien) has raised the question about the money spent in Natal since Union. I do not say Natal was not entitled to it. The hon. member seems to be very touchy on this point. The traffic in Natal justifies our spending money, but I gave the actual figures so that hon. members might know that province was not being neglected and, as a reminder to hon. members and their friends, when they talk about seceding from the Union, that they have had very substantial benefits from the Union in comparison with other places of the Union.
What is that apropos of?
It is apropos of wild speeches made outside by a responsible member of the party to which the hon. member belongs, and a member of this House.
I am very sorry you have dragged that in.
It is a fact. The hon. member referred to the supply of trucks for coal. We have done our utmost to supply the necessary trucks for the coal trade. In view of the position which the hon. member is aware of, and to which again I have to refer—I do not desire unnecessarily to reflect on the administration of my hon. friend—I have said on many occasions that he had his difficulties,—we are short both as regards coaches, trucks and engines. We now have £2,000,000 worth of rolling stock coming forward and delivery is being taken at the present time. When I came into office we cabled for the necessary trucks, coaches and engines. The sum of £2,000,000 includes the value of coaches and trucks which we are building in this country. When these come forward we shall be able to deal satisfactorily with all classes of traffic. I want to say to hon. members, to the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (South) (Mr. O’Brien) and all hon. members, that the position as regards our truck supply is such that, with this tremendous maize traffic coming forward, they will have to be prepared to suffer certain delays. The administration has taken every step possible, the general manager has called all his senior officers together, he has discussed every possible plan in order to deal with the traffic. Notwithstanding that, I am afraid there is going to be a certain amount of delay, which is inevitable owing to the shortage of trucks and other rolling stock, for which we have cabled and which are coming forward, and as we take delivery from time to time the position will be improved. I now come to the series of questions which the hon. member (Mr. Jagger) has asked me. He asked me about item 33. Owing to the congestion of the traffic it was necessary to lay down the rails and complete that particular section. It is 13 miles. The next item is 111. That is for the extra cost of uplifting 10¼ miles. The position there is the direct outcome—
I was only referring to the question of cost.
That is the estimate which has been submitted to us by the chief civil engineer, and I can only say that, if we can save money on it, we shall do so. Then there is item 116. The provision there is for £1,000.
I want to direct attention to 223 (a), which is a new expenditure.
This forms the first instalment of the amount required for a complete scheme of deviations and construction of bridges on the north coast line, Natal, which has become necessary owing to the damage done by wash aways. The position of the north coast line has not been satisfactory, and with the floods coming down year after year the damage done is very great. We hope to build bridges which will not wash away. With regard to the question asked by the hon. member for Natal Coast (Brig.-Gen. Arnott), the provision made under that head is necessary on account of the popularity of the south coast line. He will notice that there is an item. No. 209. south coast line, relaying 42 miles. The provision made is for £4,036. The total cost is estimated at £68,000.
That does not eliminate the gradient.
Oh yes, we are doing as much as we possibly can in regard to that. In spending money there we are improving the line. The next item the hon. member referred to is 126. cattle platforms. I understand my hon. friend is responsible for passing this.
Yes. £12,000. not £16,000. I asked for an explanation of the additional £4,000.
The explanation is that the provision is necessary in order to properly handle the heavy livestock traffic. The case was very carefully gone into by the board and myself, and we found it is absolutely necessary in the interests of livestock traffic. The next item was No. 324. In order that they may properly understand I must ask hon. members to refer to the item in the brown book where we are asking £55,000 for the purchase of Fort Knokke. We have purchased this block from the defence department and we have made a good purchase. Certainly, it is most necessary that we should extend our Cape Town station facilities. I think the hon. member will agree that the position in Cape Town at the present time is most unsatisfactory. Here you have at the lower end of Adderley Street a most valuable piece of ground, and what do you find? A number of goods sheds and lines where trucks are shunted. The purchase of Fort Knokke from the defence department will enable us to put back the engine sheds and ultimately the goods station. It will take some time, but I hope next year our plans will be so advanced that we will be able to do justice to Cape Town. The hon. member has referred to a hotel scheme. Let me tell him a hotel scheme is not so far off as he thinks. I see no reason why the railway administration should not take steps to make a hotel site available.
Are you going to clear the island where the customs house is at the present moment?
We have submitted plans to the publicity association and the town council, and we have asked for their views. When we get their views the matter will be gone into further. The hon. member has also asked me to deal with item 265, £42,000, Cape Town—Wynberg: Installation of automatic signalling. This is in order to more efficiently handle the increasing traffic on the Cape suburban line. The installation of this automatic signalling will result in a saving of approximately £3,300 per annum in working costs. These are built all over the country. There is a great need for them, and I am afraid we are not providing anywhere near the amount which we ought really to provide. But financial stringency does not allow us to do so. We are providing £300,000. Hon. members will remember that, with the civilized labour policy, we have to do this. We cannot house our people in hovels.
What is the estimated cost per house?
We have a standard plan, and it will cost in the neighbourhood of £400 to £500. That is the cheapest type. Does the hon. member think it is too much?
No, I am surprised at the price.
That shows that we are improving and doing better work. In regard to item 461. the existing plant is confined to one berth, which causes delays to shipping. To avoid this it is proposed to extend the coal conveyor to serve another berth.
There is a large expenditure at Bloemfontein and Durban in connection with the workshops: Items 477, 478, 481 and 483. I am rather surprised that my hon. friend is going on with these, if he has any idea of carrying out the suggestions in the Workshops Committee’s report.
In the money we are asking for extensions to workshops, we are carrying out the suggestions of the commission. That is so as regards Durban, Salt River, and other shops. We have cut out many items which otherwise would have appeared, and have adopted the commission’s recommendations.
In common with my colleague from Maritzburg, I am very pleased to see that the capital of Natal is at last receiving the attention to which it is entitled as a railway centre of considerable importance. It will be especially gratifying to the people of Maritzburg to learn that, at long last, the altogether inadequate accommodation at the central railway station is to be improved and extended in a manner necessary to cope with the ever-increasing traffic. Year after year, I called the attention of the South African party Government to the state of affairs at that station, but, strange to say—and it may as well be said—we have had to wait for a change of Government in order to get our long desired alterations and additions to the station. May I tell the Ministers not to pay too much attention to what they hear in connection with the agitation in Natal for secession from the Union.
Order, that is not on this vote.
I am quite aware of that, but I notice you did not call the Minister to order when he was dealing with the same question.
The Minister probably did not hear me.
I merely mentioned it because the Minister had already referred to it. The decision of the Government and the administration with regard to the proposed alterations at Maritzburg station will be especially welcome by the townspeople, and I am sure they will be duly appreciative of the Government’s action in this direction.
I am sorry I am not quite satisfied with the Minister’s reply regarding the coal industry. He does not realize that during June, July and August, that industry is stifled owing to the shortage of coal trucks, and that has been the case for some time past. The late Government did nothing materially to ease the position during these months in that way, but I do not see why that should continue. Some relief should be given to this very important industry. I desire to impress the importance of this upon the Minister.
I want to ask the Minister about Walvis Bay. Parliament has passed £427,981 for harbour improvements there including Rooibank water supply, and now we are asked to vote an additional £185,664. Then I see there is a proposal to spend £104,000 on the purchase of two steamships. I am aware the money for these is to be got out of the depreciation fund, but I do not see the sense of buying steamers in the present state of the shipping trade, when you can charter ships at an extremely low rate.
The amount is due to extensions. The guarantee by the administration holds good for the additional amount too. The administration of South-West has guaranteed the interest on the whole amount. As regards the question of steamships, let the hon. member and myself agree to differ. We can buy cheaply at the present time. The shipping market is very favourable to-day. We find it very unsatisfactory to deal with chartered ships. I know the hon. member does not like this. For many years we shall require sleepers from overseas, and the three ships are not sufficient to bring the sleepers. We are doing good work in connection with the extension of the coal trade, because we are, on the forward journey, carrying coal.
Motion put and agreed to.
Vote, as amended, put and agreed to.
Estimates of expenditure from loan funds (including the Defence Endowment Account) to be reported with an amendment.
brought up the report of the committee of supply reporting the estimates of expenditure from loan funds (including the Defence Endowment Account) with an amendment.
Report considered and adopted, and two Bills brought up.
Appropriation (1925-’26) Bill read a first time; second reading on Monday.
Railways and Harbours Appropriation (1925-’26) Bill read a first time: second reading on Monday.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.7 p.m.
Fourth Order read: Second reading,—Customs Tariff and Excise Duties Amendment Bill.
Is the Minister going on with this order’ I want to point out that this Bill, which has 43 clauses, was only put into our hands this morning.
There is nothing before the House. The motion to go into committee has not been moved yet.
I was in hopes that my hon. friend would move that these two orders stand over, and that he would take the third, which was the plan agreed upon.
I regret to see that my hon. friend expects me not to proceed with these two measures.
I do, most certainly.
After all, the principles contained in both the measures which appear on the Order Paper have, of course, been discussed and accepted by the House in Committee of Ways and Means. I think it is generally agreed that we want to finish the business of the session. There is nothing really new in the Bills.
You will not facilitate business by going on with this Bill.
It is a monstrous shame, that’s all I can say.
Although the Bill looks fairly bulky, it contains various clauses and the Bill itself is not so formidable as it may appear. Hon. members will see that the Bill is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 contains the usual provisions to give effect to the decisions of the House in Committee of Ways and Means relating to the taxation proposals, in so far as they relate to the customs tariff. As it is proposed to repeal the whole of the Tariff Act of 1914, many of the clauses of this Bill are re-enactments of clauses that are necessary in connection with the working of the customs tariff. No new matter is introduced as far as the majority of these clauses are concerned. For example, Clauses 5, 9, 10. 11, 12, 35, 36, 37 and 40 are re-enactments of clauses now existing in the Customs Tariff Act of 1914. Chapter 2, hon. members will see, deals with dumping duties. Existing dumping duty clauses have not been satisfactory, but the experience gained has been embodied in the Bill now before the House. The mercantile community, I think, will be glad to know that, except in the case of dumping duties on wheat and flour, in determining whether an article is being dumped, the basis taken will be that current for home consumption at the date of purchase and not at the date of shipment. Hon. members will know that has been the difficulty we have been experiencing. It was pointed out that in the existing legislation it was necessary to take the time of shipment, otherwise it would be difficult for the customs department to administer the Act, but we have considered the matter from all points of view and we have come to the conclusion that while it is necessary to make such provision in the case of wheat and flour, we could safely accept the date of purchase instead of the date of export. It will be more difficult for the customs people to administer the Act, but I think in the interests of the commercial community it is necessary we should adopt the practice which exists in most other countries in regard to this matter. As regards wheat and flour, a reference to Clause 16 will indicate the action the Government intends taking to overcome the difficulty which arose last year, consequent upon the abnormal rise in the prices of these commodities. Adequate provision is made in the present Bill for dealing with dumping in the interests of agricultural and manufacturing interests. In addition provision is made against dumping by miens of bounties. Heretofore that form of provision had only been applied to sugar. Then there is a clause which legalizes the action the Government took last year when it authorized the customs officials not to collect dumping duties on certain things that came into the country owing to the abnormal rise in prices in Australia. Chapter 3, part 1, deals with excise. In that chapter hon. members will see it deals solely with amendments to, or repeals of, existing legislation in regard to pipe tobacco, cigars and cigarillos. Provision is made for indemnifying the officials for non-collection of duty as from the 1st April last. In my Budget statement I said the proposals in regard to the abolition of the tax on pipe tobacco would come in force on the 1st April, but, of course, legislation is still on the statute book and the action of the Government in not collecting the revenue in that regard will have to be indemnified. In paragraph 2, hon. members will see that consequent on the rebate of duty allowed under the Customs and Excise Duties Amendment Act, 1921, on brandy made and stored under excise control, it has been necessary for the department to take additional powers in order to obtain adequate protection of the revenue. Representations have been made to the department by the Wine Growers’ Association that it is necessary, both in the interests of the industry and in order to protect the revenue, that the Government, should have additional powers in that respect. Chapter 4 is general. Practically the whole of that chapter consists of re-enactments of existing legislation. The only new matters are the usual clause giving the Governor-General power to make regulations, and defining what shall constitute the export value of an article, which is to establish a basis for the collection of agricultural levies on exports. In terms of our existing legislation, under certain circumstances, levies have to be collected in regard to the export of Union products, and here we lay down the basis adopted in connection with such levies. These are the principal matters dealt with in this legislation. In the schedules hon. members will find the tariff which has already been adopted by the House. We make provision there to give effect to what I stated in discussing the tariff itself, and also in my Budget statement, so far as existing preference to the United Kingdom and other dominions is concerned. The Bill also deals with bargaining with other countries and with applying to such countries, in case of an agreement being arrived at, the benefits of our minimum tariff. I beg to move—
I want to raise a strong protest against this. Here is a Bill which very closely concerns the community, and I doubt if one single member of this House has read it. It is drawn up by officials, and of course it requires to be very closely examined. I am saying nothing about the officials, but they have to look at it from one point of view, and that is the customs only. It should be carefully examined by the commercial community. It is indecent, I consider, to try and rush this Bill through at this late hour of the night; and I beg to move—
Motion put; and Mr. Jagger called for a division.
Upon which the House divided:
Bates, B. T.
Brown, D. M.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Giovanetti, C. W.
Jagger, J. W.
Lennox, F. J.
Marwick, J. S.
Miller, A. M.
Nel, O. R.
O’Brien, W. J.
Pretorius, N. J.
Rider, W. W.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Smuts, J. C.
Van Zyl, G. B.
Tellers: de Jager, A. L.; Robinson, C. P.
Barlow, A. G.
Bergh, P. A.
Beyers, F. W.
Brink, G. F.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conradie, J. H.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I.
De Villiers, P. C.
De Waal, J. H. H.
De Wet, S. D.
Fordham, A. C.
Hattingh, B. R.
Havenga, N. C.
Hay, G. A.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Heyns, J. D.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, M. L.
McMenamin, J. J.
Mostert, J. P.
Naudé, A. S.
Naudé, J. F. (Tom)
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Rood, W. H.
Roos, T. J. de V.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Steytler, L. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van Heerden, I. P.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Waterston, R. B.
Wessels, J. B.
Tellers: le Roux, S. P.; Wessels, J. H. B.
Motion for the adjournment of the debate accordingly negatived.
I have a few remarks to make on this Bill: although I must confess I have had no time to go into it at all thoroughly.
Has the hon. member had time? I expect he has had all the time he requires. I have not had time, as I have had other things to do.
You have had much more time than we have.
I entirely agree with what the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) said, that, to bring forward a Bill like this, and seriously ask us to take the second reading when it has only been in our hands a few hours, is making a farce of parliamentary procedure. I would like to ask hon. members opposite, and the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) in particular, what his understanding is of Chapter 2 which deals with dumping; whether he has read it and whether he could give us a clear idea of what these provisions really mean?
The Minister is there; he will tell you.
And whatever the Minister says the hon. member shuts his eyes and opens his mouth and says—
He has told you often already.
We have not the complete faith in the Government which the hon. member has, or we should not be here. The clauses about dumping are most complicated. It has been very difficult in the past to apply dumping duties to South Africa. To ask us to pass this complicated chapter about dumping when the Bill has been in our hands only since this morning is to make a farce of parliamentary procedure.
The principles have been adopted and a committee stage will have to be taken.
The principles of the tariff have been debated, but we are not dealing with the tariff, but with the machinery of the tariff, which is quite different.
In the case of dumping duties on wheat and Hour the Minister thinks he is getting over all the difficulties by providing that if the Minister is of opinion that the levying of the ordinary dumping duty would, by reason of market fluctuations, be undesirable, the Governor-General may declare that in lieu of such dumping duties there shall be levied on wheat and flour imported into the Union special dumping duties. To my mind that merely accentuates the difficulty because the complaint against dumping duties on wheat and flour is that they unduly add to the cost of living; they do so not because of their amount, but because of their uncertainty. The Minister can tell us that these dumping duties amount only to a farthing or one-eighth of a penny on a loaf. That may be true, but the difficulty is that a man who imports a cargo of wheat does not know what is going to happen, and therefore he has to ensure a margin of profit to safeguard himself. These provisions about dumping require far more consideration than we can give them at the present time.
Would you prefer not to deal with them at all?
No, but I would prefer to have a little more time to see how the new method works out. There is another remarkable provision in section 4 which says—
That is an absolutely new principle.
I would like to know how this is going to be applied. It is not an industry which maintains unsatisfactory labour conditions. It is an individual employer who does that.
They generally act together.
No, the hon. member has got that in his bonnet. That can only happen when an industry is so closely organized that it is under one control. The tariff can be applied to a whole industry or not at all. How are you going to manipulate the tariff so as to prevent individual employers from maintaining unsatisfactory labour conditions I cannot understand. To try and use the tariff as a means of checking unsatisfactory labour conditions is futile. Then we come to clause 7, which is rather a remarkable clause from a constitutional point of view. It empowers the Governor-General to conclude a treaty with a foreign State whereby reciprocal tariff conditions may be arranged. This is certainly a great advance in constitutional law. I should like to know in whose name the treaty is going to be concluded and on whom it is going to be binding.
The dominions have concluded commercial treaties.
I believe Canada has concluded treaties, but not in the name of the Governor-General and not by the Governor-General’s mandate. This is a remarkable advance on anything we have had hitherto in the matter of dominion status. I think these points are sufficient to show that this Bill contains matters of the very greatest importance which certainly require full discussion, and that is why I think the Minister was ill-advised to resist the motion of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) to adjourn the debate so that hon. members could have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the conditions of the Bill and to see where they are going to lead us.
When the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) protested against the second reading of the Bill being taken to-night, I thought he was a little too punctilious, but since listening to the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) I can see how wise the former was in his protest. I have not had an opportunity of reading the Bill. Surely the Minister is not going to force the Bill through its second reading to-night. We have done our best on this side to facilitate the progress of the work, but there are principles in this Bill which should be discussed. I ask the Minister, in fairness, not to proceed with the Bill now. We are trying to help the Government as much as we can. We have raised no objections to the procedure, but if the Minister is going to force the Bill through to-night it is going to have repercussions, and there will be a third reading debate which will take much longer. I have heard the hon. member opposite (Mr. Waterston) raise his voice very strongly on anything affecting the food bill. Is he going to take the Bill to-night without a word? Things have been pointed out in the Bill which give one pause. These dumping duties are going to raise the cost of living. I appeal to the Minister not to force the Bill through to-night. The Bill brings in principles of the greatest possible importance. Can I appeal to the Minister to let this stand over until Monday? There is plenty of other work on the Order Paper.
I want to make use of this opportunity to bring something to the notice of the Minister of Finance, and I hope that he will go into it and make the necessary concessions to the farmers of the country. I recently quoted figures during the debate on the Co-operative Societies’ Amendment Bill to prove how our farmers are losing the local market for their tobacco by the importation of tobacco from Rhodesia. I therefore want to urge him to give the necessary protection to the farmers against the Rhodesian tobacco. In 1917 we imported 620,000 lbs. of tobacco, in 1921 it rose to 21 millions, in 1922 to 3½ millions, 1923 to 4½ millions and 1924 to 5½ millions. As the importation has considerably increased every year we find that the production in our country has proportionately become less. In 1917 we produced 16½ million lbs.; 1922, 9,800,000 lbs.; 1923, 9,600,000 lbs., and in 1924 the figure will be between 8 and 9 million lbs. This shows clearly that the Rhodesian tobacco is winning our market from our farmers. Without being inimical to Rhodesia, I think we ought to protect our farmers.
I do not know that the hon. member can discuss that matter now.
May I not?
Do you mean increased duties to those which have been adopted by the committee? If so, then the hon. member cannot discuss it now.
That is the case, and therefore I had better go no further. I only hope that the Minister will give his attention to the matter.
I think the Minister is making a mistake in not allowing this to be adjourned. There are quite a number of matters which have not been fully discussed in the House. It is quite true we have had considerable discussion on the tariff part of the Bill, and it is also true that although the House has been through the tariff, we had to agree to it per force. We feel competent to deal with the tariff at considerable length—
Why don’t you do it?
I have every intention of doing it. If he challenges me I will do so. We have said on this side of the House that in our opinion this tariff is going to have a very bad effect. It is going to produce evidence of unrest. There are matters left hanging in the air, the question of dumping, and the question referred to by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) in regard to the reports of the Board of Trade and Industries as to whether duties should be reduced from the maximum to the minimum duties. There is a good deal of uncertainty as to what will be the effect of the tariff. It will be interesting if the Minister will tell us what his impression is of the effect of this tariff. It might be the Minister can tell us from the information he gets from the customs whether the features of uncertainty are making any difference to the volume of exports, whether the volume of imports is keeping up, and whether the customs revenue is maintaining its expectations. It seems possible that is not the case. In the course of discussions we have tried to point out that although we may be giving encouragement to a certain number of industries by the provisions of the tariff, nevertheless it is going to follow that the cost of production in the main industries, mining and farming, is going undoubtedly to be increased. We have been told by members opposite, and particularly by members from the cross benches, that it was going to do good, that the way to prosperity is to pay more wages, and that if the farmer paid more in the cost of production he was going to get more for his products in the market. Nobody has suggested, if it costs more in production to the mining companies, that they are going to make more profits on it. It has been said that if the farmer has to pay more for production he will get more for his products. That has defeated me, I cannot see how it is going to come about. If the farmer could sell everything he produces in this country there might be something in it. But that is not so. The market has to be found outside the boundaries of the Union. It goes overseas. This afternoon we were told certain industries would have to submit to inconvenience because there was a shortage of rolling stock, and because of the large shipments of maize. That shipment is a good thing, not only for the farmer, but for the whole country. But how can anybody suggest if it costs more per bag to produce maize, that it will help the farmers to get more money overseas. The price of maize is fixed by the world conditions depending chiefly on production, and the amount other countries have to sell in the market. Therefore every penny per bag in increase in cost of production, means so much less for the farmers, and so much less money this country is going to recover from overseas. It may be said these industries are not going to suffer in the way I indicated. If you look at the tariff there are a great many things the farmer and miner will have to pay more for than they have in the past. The Minister has indicated there is no great hurry, so I hope he will not mind if I give him a number of instances. Take the number of things a farmer and his wife buy every day. We will begin on the first page—baking powders, cocoa, confectionery, extracts and essences of all kinds for food or flavouring, fish pastes, gelatine, macaroni, bacon and ham. I am told that the price of bacon and ham has already gone up. Then there are coconuts, for example, and salt. Salt appears to be more expensive. Every householder in the country uses some salt. It may be that some persons have salt pans on their farms, but most people have to buy their salt from the grocer. Then you have jute bags, bagging and sacking in the piece, linen and cotton bags for salt, flour, sugar, tobacco and other local manufactures, and blankets and rugs. Kafir blankets have been talked about at great length in this House. If all the natives who are employed by the householder, by the farmer or by the miner have to pay more for their blankets one of two things will happen. Either the native will expect to get more wages, or, as will happen in many cases, the employer will have to pay for these things and present them to the native. Then there are carpets, coir mats and matting, clothing. Clothing, on which the import duty used to be 25 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent., is now 30 per cent. Ready-made clothing, which used to pay 15 or 25 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent. is now 15 per cent. plus a suspended duty of 10 per cent. How is anybody to know when the suspended duty is going to be put on? Then there are shirts, collars and pyjamas. They used to be 20 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent.: they are now 25 per cent. There are coats, vests, trousers, cloaks, mantles or shawls. They have gone up. Then there are hats and caps. These also have gone up. Then you have millinery, drapery, haberdashery and textile articles of furnishing and napery. These things apparently have gone up. They used to be 20 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent. and are now 20 per cent. Then we come to other kinds of things. Every person wants to have a bath in his house. Metal baths, on which there was a duty of 20 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent., are now 20 per cent. Buckets (household and sanitary), which used to be 20 per cent., with a rebate of 3 per cent. are now 20 per cent. minimum, or 25 per cent. maximum. Then there are new carriages, which used to be 25 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent., and which are now 25 per cent. Here is another thing which supports my contention that the farmer is going to pay more under this new tariff. Dairy utensils and machinery, milkcans and buckets, which used to come in free are now 15 per cent. minimum, and 20 per cent. maximum. I do not know whether there is an incipient industry in this country which is going to make a few buckets, but I doubt whether the advantage which will accrue from that is going to Counterbalance the extra duty which every householder will have to pay for these things. Then there are electric hand lamps and torches, which I believe a good many people use now and on which the duty is to be 20 per cent. We next come to motor-cars of different sorts. We all know that motor-cars, more especially British motor-cars, have been singled out as things which are going to be more expensive. Then there is lead piping. Lead piping is a tiling which is constantly used in mines and on farms.
And in political meetings.
That has gone up two per cent. Are there any works in this country which deal in raw lead?
Well then, it may benefit a few people. Then there are stoves, ranges, coppers and grates. These are going to cost more. The duty used to be 20 per cent. with a rebate of 3 per cent.; now it is 20 per cent. Then there are wheelbarrows.
I wish to point out to the hon. member (Sir Drummond Chaplin) that these details can more appropriately be discussed in committee.
With all deference, Mr. Speaker. I am giving instances in support of my argument that the tariff which is embodied in this Bill is going to raise the cost of living.
I am afraid that the hon. member is rather multiplying his instances.
Well, sir, I am at least strengthening my case. I do not wish to dispute your ruling in any way, and I think, perhaps, I have given a fair number of instances which go to prove my contention. What we have to consider is whether the combined result of all this is going to be beneficial or not. I am not in any way a confirmed free-trader. I do not hold such strong views on the subject as my hon. friend (Mr. Jagger), nor am I a confirmed protectionist. I frankly admit that this country must do what is expedient in the circumstances according to the articles that we require. Where we can encourage an industry, more especially an industry which is based on the raw material of this country then, provided that that industry employs a reasonable number of people, I say it is reasonable to support it, unless by so doing we are going to raise the cost of that article to such an extent as to make it a burden to the general population. Then there are several other matters I have no doubt they will be dealt with more fully when we come to details, but I would like to say a word at this stage against the great increase in the protection afforded to the printing industry. We have been told that this is a highly organized industry, and we have evidence of that. The master printers and the printers’ union have laid their heads together, and exercised their influence jointly, and they have induced this Government to recommend and the majority of this House to adopt a measure of protection which is going to increase enormously the cost to the consumer of various printed articles, and that increase is running through practically the whole stationery trade, and I do not think, as far as I can see from the evidence afforded to me, that the increase proposed can be fully justified. It will probably be said that in dealing with the Wage Bill in this House I supported the principle of voluntary arrangements and highly developed organizations in trades. With that I agree, and I think it is the best thing: and, although it is open to this objection, that it does lead to combinations between employers and employed with a view to getting high prices and high profits, still the system carries with it its own remedy. When the public realize that in consequence of this protection the things they have to buy every day have increased in price enormously, well, of course, the public will reduce its consumption. There are plenty of other instances which I could give. I think we want to know very clearly and I must say I am not satisfied from the report of the Board of Trade that sufficient thought and care have been bestowed upon the investigation of all these matters. I think, myself, it would have been far better if the introduction of the new tariff had been put off for another year. I think that the debate yesterday on the question of the finances of the country shows very conclusively that it is an inopportune moment to do something which is not likely to help the sentiment in regard to our finances overseas. I regret the Minister has not seen fit to allow the debate to be adjourned. As he has not done so we must take the position as we find it, and I am glad to have had this opportunity of pointing out the defects in this Bill, which they will prove on investigation to be.
One is rather amused to hear the complaints from that side about having no time to consider this question. Hon. members over there have been talking about this tariff for some weeks past. This Bill embodies things the Labour party wish to see embodied, and which hon. members over there when they formed the Government refused to insert. When they had their dumping duties and this sort of thing, did they take any legislative steps to see that the consumers were protected against excessive prices, or that the workers employed in the industries were protected against sweating by the employers? Not one step. It is most amusing to find hon. members on that side saying they have had no time to read the Bill.
Have you read the Bill?
The hon. member has already spoken; I do not want him to speak again, if he does not mind. Hon. members know this has to go through the committee stage and every member will have a free opportunity of dealing with everything contained in this Bill, item by item. As far as the Opposition are concerned, it is no use their trying to draw red herrings across the track. They know that every member will be given ample opportunity to deal with this Bill in detail. Probably we shall hear the hon. members over there waxing very eloquent over every clause in this particular measure. When the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) stood up and pleaded for more time, when the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) pleaded for more time, they were not talking to this House; they were talking to the country. It was a little more propaganda for the country. They know the position, but unfortunately the people outside do not understand the position, and they may be misled into thinking this has been rushed through the House.
They will think so.
The hon. member for Yeoville knows better. The hon. member stated that you cannot use the tariff to ensure satisfactory wages and conditions. I take it that is not the object of this Bill; the object and build up industries in South Africa, but at the same time, whilst endeavouring to do that, steps are being taken to see that while these industries are being established the necessary protection is given to the men employed in these industries. We are instituting a protective tariff to build up industries that will be an asset to South Africa, when the hon. member was a member of the Government, he took no steps at all to protect the workers in the industries.
You cannot do it by a tariff Bill, that is why.
If he reads clause (4) he will find machinery to protect the consumer. Everything is provided in the Bill to deal with the evils the hon. member says he fears so much. The hon. member went on to say that it is the single employer who causes the trouble, that is not so. The hon. member knows the wage laid down in an industry by any single employer in that industry becomes the wage for the whole industry.
The evidence is there.. Take the agricultural industry. Will the hon. member tell us of any fluctuation, although the farmers are all separate? Will he tell me whether the wages paid by the agricultural industry are practically the same in every province?
No, I won’t; it is not so.
They are practically the same wages and conditions of labour. There may be a slight difference as between province and province, but the wages paid are practically the same in every farm in the province. Well, perhaps the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger), who knows a great deal about blankets and very little about railways, will leave it to the farmers to tell us about the conditions in the agricultural industry. Take the mining industry. Hon. members over there will tell us that there are different employers; but the mine workers’ wages are the same. In the building industry, the wages in all the provinces are exactly the same, although these men are working for different employers. The wages in the Transvaal may be slightly different from those in the Cape; but the wages are the same in each province.
Why do you have these wages enforced by law if they are all the same anyhow?
That is to prevent employers sweating the employees to get more profit. The exceptional employer will be dealt with under the Wages Board. It stands to reason that if one particular employer is not playing the game, the tariff that may be introduced to nourish an industry will not be used to deal with an individual employer. It is not the individual employer that lays down a wage for an industry, but the industry as a whole. One of the most amazing spectacles we have is the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin) being so deeply concerned about the interests of the working classes. When we see one of the leading lights of the gold industry in South Africa—or at least he was, although he may not be now—but he is the mouthpiece to a very large extent of the mining industry—telling us about the poor worker who is going to suffer, it is one of the most amazing spectacles we have had this evening. An hon. member says this tariff is going to damage the mining industry. We know that that industry has issued pamphlets and done propaganda against the establishment of industries in South Africa, They have appealed to the farmers and they say there are two sections who are an asset to the country, the agricultural community and the mining industry, and they appeal to the farmers to assist them in preventing the establishment of industries here. They say South Africa should produce the raw material which should be sent overseas for manufacture and sent back to South Africa. The mining industry is against the establishment of manufacturing industries for other reasons besides the increased cost to the working classes. The mining industry, owing to the fact that it is the only industry of any importance, has a tremendous amount of political power in South Africa, and that will finish, largely, if the country is not so dependent on the mining industry. If factories were established, there would be more absorption of labour and there are various other reasons why the mining industry is against the establishment of manufacturing industries. The hon. member referred to the increased cost of living to the working classes, not because they fear the worker will be any worse off, but their sole idea is that if the cost of living is increased, the workers will want more wages. They are concerned that the workers should be better off, as that is going to be bad for the mining industry. In common with every other large employer’ of labour in this and other countries, they are keeping the workers down to the fodder basis, like beasts of burden. They consider that it costs so much for the workers to keep their wives and families in a certain condition and that that is what they should be paid, and they are worrying over the increased cost of living to the working classes; because they will have to pay a little more wages to the workers. The hon. member went on to talk about the increased cost of bacon and ham; but as far as the workers on the Witwatersrand are concerned, they are not getting a great margin over their rent and the bare necessities of life and there are few of them that can afford to have ham, bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning, as probably the hon. member has. The workers in the mining industry in this country are being very harshly treated to-day, and are not getting a square deal, and have not done since 1922. The hon. member is complaining of the duty on shirts, pyjamas, etc. Why should South Africa not have its own factories making everything that is necessary for the people? The hon. member also spoke of the duty on hats, caps, etc. If South Africa is not going to develop in the manufacturing of the raw material, what are we going to do when the mining industry peters out? While the mining industry is still running, we shall do all we can to build up other industries so that the children born and bred here will have an opportunity in the industrial life of the country, and not do as they are to-day, drifting into the ranks of the poor whites or out of South Africa. The hon. member for South Peninsula spoke of the duty on baths and said this was another hardship on the working classes; but when the mining industry was started some years ago, and the employers erected houses on the mines, they never provided them with a bath or bathroom. Apparently their idea was that the working classes did not need a bath so long as they made large profits for them. If it were left to hon. members like the hon. member for South Peninsula, the working classes would never have a bathroom at all. The hon. member said that, with the rate of wages the working men were getting, they could afford motor cars. In what industry in South Africa can they get such high wages that they can purchase motor cars out of their earnings? The best part of them are not receiving wages sufficient to enable them to live decent lives as decent citizens, and give their children the same opportunities as the hon. member has had for his children—if he has got any. I do not know if he has any. The hon. member says he is not a free trader. If he is not, is he one of those members who say they believe in protection, but don’t believe in going too far? They do not believe in free trade and yet they speak as free traders. The working classes will have to pay the price of building up industry in South Africa and the farming industry must do the same, or South Africa must perish as a country in which the working man can earn a livelihood. If we are not prepared to pay the price for supporting industries in this country then we can never have a huge population, and never provide opportunities for our children to earn their living in this country. We must make sacrifices; nothing was ever gained without sacrifice. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) spoke about dumping duties. He knows just as well as we do that the dumping duties in the Bill are practically on the same lines as the dumping duties imposed by his Government. Where any foreign Government is assisting its manufacturers by bounties or low railway and shipping freights, or things of that kind, which will enable foreign manufacturers to land their goods here below the rate at which our industries can compete with them, then the dumping duties will come into operation. The same principles embodied in this Bill are embodied in the Acts carried out by ‘the late Government.
It is strange that the hon. member never found that out until now.
I did, long ago.
Why did he not tell the House that they were unsatisfactory instead of raising all sorts of obstacles to discussing the Bill to-night? The hon. member understands every clause of the Bill just as well as the Minister himself.
You flatter me.
This bogey about rushing legislation is not for the benefit of members here, but for party propaganda purposes outside the House. I hope the Minister will make up his mind that we are prepared to sit on this measure until to-morrow night to see that it is passed.
We always like to listen to the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston); he is certainly most refreshing, and, may I say, also very glib and fluent. It was truly wonderful to listen to him, more particularly when one remembers what he used to say when he sat in Opposition. His object then was to oppose everything, but now he speaks only in support. When one remembers how he used to rave against dumping duties you wonder whether he is the same person. He says the Bill is not being rushed. Is it not rushing a Bill, containing 103 pages, when it is laid on the Table in the afternoon and the Government wants to pass it the same evening? The hon. member cannot tell me what is in the first, second, third or even fourth sections.
Will you bet on it?
I will ask him a few questions later on.
It is true we have considered the tariff, but there are clauses in the Bill which I defy any man to understand under many hours’ consideration. I want a little information from the Minister, but perhaps his assistant in the corner can explain for him. The hon. member says the Bill is not going to protect an industry which is not going to be an asset to us. Well, cotton blankets cannot be made here, and I don’t think they will ever be made here; they are manufactured from a particular waste which you cannot obtain here, not even by importation. There is thus no industry to protect. Can the hon. member show us anything in this Bill which protects the wire industry? I believe he visited the local wire factory, and was highly gratified at what he saw. If he was not satisfied then he misled those who showed him round; and yet he does not try to protect that industry. I believe he asked what the labourers were paid.
Then one of his party did. The next question he put was—
We were not satisfied.
They never are, but at the same time they do nothing to help an industry which could do good. Why are these hon. members so keen now on very high tariffs? I remember when we discussed the question of boot factories, the hon. members on the cross benches said—
The tariff has gone up now, and it is supported by that side.
And from your side.
Hon. members here who support high tariffs did so in the past, and they have not had a sudden conversion. It was only in January, 1920, when the hon. gentleman’s political leader was strongly against high tariffs. He had to find some stick with which to beat the late Prime Minister, and he said—
You are claiming now it is going to help your poor—
That was the Prime Minister’s view in 1920—
That was Gen. Hertzog at Bloemfontein in 1920. Perhaps he was wrongly reported. The hon. members are always preaching care of the children of the country, and I agree with them. The children should be cared for, but what do we find in this tariff? We find that food for infants is now paying four times more in import duties than it paid before. I have not heard a word of protest from that side. Look at the old tariff and take one item “Lactogen.” It was charged at a certain rate in the old tariff, but in the new tariff it is charged at a different rate. It is now 15 per cent. ad valorem under “specially prepared food for infants”. Take the position that formerly applied. On 70 eases £7 1s. 5d. was paid as duty, to-day the duty is £28 5s. 11d. which works out at 8½d. per three pound tin. In the retail shops it will be at least 1s. a tin more. We know this article is one of great value for infants and invalids, of such great value that we find medical men prescribing it to-day. The Union Department of Public Health recommends it as of great value. The Municipal and Union hospitals are using this article very freely, but because the advertisements says “food for infants” it comes under the new tariff. Let me refer to some of the clauses of the bill; take clause 4, which deals with the circumstances in which protective duties may be withdrawn. I want to know if in this provision is made to deal with the bad practice which is becoming somewhat general, namely, than an industry can produce goods and say to the merchant—
There is nothing in the clause as far as I can see on a hurried perusal, which deals with that position. Take section 9. “Conditions regarding manufactured goods.”—
Here the matter is taken out of the hands of Parliament and the Minister alone decides. Take section 12, “Rebates and refunds.” How is the Minister going to apply sub-section (b)—
How are you going to decide, when any article is manufactured, the exact value of the raw material. Take sub-section (e)—
I don’t know any settler who has arrived in this country with furniture of the value of £100 only. Instead of assisting settlers, we are putting difficulties in their way by making them pay duty on all their furniture, except up to a value of £100. Take No. 13, decrease in duty on boots and shoes. I agree with the Minister on this, but I have not heard any of his supporters on that side speak against this clause, or speak in terms of their speeches when they were in Opposition here. I well remember how the Minister of Railways, when the question of protecting boots and shoes was raised, was up in arms straight away, and he wanted 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. duty put on. Then take dumping. I expected when I saw these dumping clauses were going to be made more stringent, that the members of the Labour party were going to tell the Minister to call a halt and not go so far. Well, here they are. There are more powers in the hands of the Minister in regard to dumping duties than ever before, and there is not a word of opposition from the Labour benches. I have heard no one oppose the dumping duty on flour. There is no opposition as regards the dumping duty on wheat. May I suggest to the Minister that the time has arrived when he should consider the position in this regard, and arrange that in future wheat and not flour should be imported into this country. I find that more and more merely flour is coming in. The exporters are gaining by doing all their own milling. They are getting all the by-products, which are very valuable to them and most valuable to our farmers. We find here that cattle foods are getting more difficult to procure, and yet we make no effort to get the benefit of the by-products of wheat, which are so valuable. Take 16, dumping duty on wheat and flour—
I feel that in regard to foodstuffs the Minister should not have this power. I have every sympathy with the farmer, but—
It does not seem so.
I claim that I have done more for the farming community than many members sitting on the opposite side. That is the difficulty with many of them. They won’t be helped. In regard to this matter, I think that we ought to see that the Minister’s powers are strictly limited. The community must be considered as a whole and, as a whole the community should know from time to time what difficulties are to be put in their way in regard to lessening the cost of living. I regret exceedingly that the Minister would not agree to adjourning this debate. If he had agreed to that, I am certain that many of us would have discussed one or two points of importance only, and thus saved a lot of time. It is impossible to understand the Bill in the short time at our disposal.
I am very pleased indeed that the Minister has brought forward this Bill. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) and the hon. member for Harbour (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) have, to a great extent, tried to emphasize the point that power should not be left in the hands of the Minister and that definite regulations should be embodied in these different clauses. I would like to mention one or two instances, as showing that it is utterly impossible for the Minister to put definite regulations in these clauses. We find, for instance, that cases may arise, such as have happened in England. For instance, Enfield bicycles, which are manufactured in England, are purchased in England then exported to Holland. They can be re-imported into England and sold at a lower price than if they had been purchased in England for the English trade in the first instance. The principle is carried out in this way: We will say that goods are sold in the United States for 20s. By increasing their output by 1100 per cent. and naturally having no increase in overhead charges, they can sell for export at 15s. What is the real price? I hold that to put definite regulations on this Act would make it impossible for the Minister to do justice to the exporters and the importers. We know that a great outcry has been made about Clauses 13, 12 and 16. This is one of the instances of a new system of fixing tariffs, or in other words, it is the first introduction of a scientific tariff for South Africa. We know full well that it is impossible for the Minister to fix definite regulations. We know the currency of every country is different. We know it is possible within six months for the currency to be so altered as to completely upset any regulations which they would embody. We have had the instance lately of currency in Central Europe changed to such an extent that what was the value of a sovereign has been purchased for 7s. 11d. So we clearly understand that having regard to the changing currency in every country, the Minister was quite correct when he drafted this Bill in leaving out anything of a definite character. We hope that by supporting this tariff not only will it find employment for the unemployed, but it will create in this country such a demand for labour that we can absorb thousands of emigrants who are only waiting to land on our shores.
The hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) was in a great hurry to support the second reading of this Bill. He seems to have overlooked the remarks of the hon. member for Boksburg (Mr. McMenamin) some time, ago in connection with the bread question. On the 9th of June he said—
The hon. member is not only tacitly assisting the Government in inaction, but he is at the moment actively assisting them to pass the dumping duties which the hon. member for Boksburg largely blamed for the increase in the price of bread. The hon. member dealt fully with that question, and exclusively blamed the dumping duties for the high cost of bread. He also said—
Not only are we confronted with that fact, but actually the secretary to the cost of living enquiry, whilst an official of the Ministry of Labour, gave expression to this opinion—
That is a most remarkable statement from an official employed, and I suppose paid, to endeavour to reduce the cost of living. Among the other articles of food that will be very largely increased in cost is the item of potted meat. Potted meats are largely used by railwaymen, guards and transportation men on the railway, and at one of the largest junctions at Natal, I was assured by a storekeeper that the difference in duty upon one case of potted meat would be 30s. owing to the increased tariff. There is, in addition, the fact that duties are imposed on articles that are not manufactured, or likely to be manufactured, in this country. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs read to us a letter the other evening from a gentleman who he almost persuaded us was about to establish an industry for the manufacture of cotton blankets, but he did not disclose the name of the writer of that letter, but I have the best reasons for believing that the writer is a man who himself has been brought under the discipline of the Wage Board in Natal for sweating his employees. He wrote in a most sentimental strain about the joy of seeing his people departing from his factory at the close of the day’s work; but he omitted to mention the fact that he had been dealt with by the Wage Board in Durban owing to having sweated these departing employees. If that is the type of man we are to rely upon to establish an industry in cotton blankets, I think we are leaning on a very broken reed. Section 4 of the Bill sets out to regulate the conditions in regard to industries that enjoy a maximum tariff, and it is laid down there that if these industries do not conform to a certain standard, they may be reduced to the minimum tariff, after the expiry of six months, and certain notices have been served on them. It seems to me that this is going to tend to instability, because a very large number of industries that are at present in operation in South Africa have been established on the basis of the employment of a certain proportion of native labour, but if these industries are to be confronted with the operation of this section it may mean a considerable hardship on industries which were established before the operation of this Act was contemplated, and will be brought under the penal clauses and forfeit whatever advantage they may have under the tariff owing to their neglect to conform to a standard which they never contemplated and which it is impossible for them to conform to. Then we come to section 7, which empowers the Governor-General to conclude a treaty with a foreign State for minimum rates of tariff. There is a proviso, it is true, that these rates of tariff, if so granted, shall be extended, ipso facto, to the United Kingdom; but I wonder whether the Minister observed the remarks of Sir Robert Horne, a former chancellor of the Exchequer, upon the iniquity of competition between goods manufactured in the United Kingdom and goods manufactured in countries which have depressed wage conditions. He made a very outspoken criticism in the House of Commons on the effect of this clause. It was not, of course, in the form of a clause at that time. When this provision was being discussed Sir Robert Horne remarked that—
It seems to me almost insane for us to expect that we can inflict injuries on British trade and then be surprised at British capital not flowing into South Africa. If we drive out British trade we cannot marvel if British capital refuses to come in. There is no doubt that a very wide range of discussion is contained in this Bill. We have certainly not been given an opportunity of studying the various clauses. I am sorry the Minister will not allow the Bill to stand over. We are booked to work long hours from Monday next, and we are prepared to show a gluttony for hard work. Under these circumstances the Minister should not have found it necessary to press the Bill through to-night, and even to call in the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) to attempt to force the Bill through with his forceful methods.
The hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) tried to deal in a serious manner with the supposed criticisms of the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin). But of course they were never meant to be serious. We have in his case to-night a very marked example, an indication of how some hon. members opposite are trying to facilitate the progress of business. Exception was taken to the fact that I refused to accept the proposal of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that the second reading should stand over. I wish to point out how unreasonable hon. members opposite are in their attitude. The proposals contained in the Bill have been adopted.
Not in the Bill.
I am coming to the Bill and I shall ask hon. members whether the matter has not been fully discussed. The only member who attempted to deal seriously with the matter was the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan).
Take Clause 2.
The hon. member is so impatient: he has been speaking the whole day. Just allow me to continue. What is the position in regard to the dumping duty? Some hon. members have again tried to make political capital by pointing out that members on the Labour benches are inconsistent by assisting to raise the cost of living, which it is maintained will follow the imposition of dumping duties. Well, dumping duties have been in existence since 1914 and they were imposed by the previous Government. In 1922 and 1923 other forms of dumping duty were imposed. Dumping duties were imposed on wheat and flour by the late Government. The principles contained in the Bill have been discussed in this House on more than one occasion. Practically the only matter which has been in dispute has been whether in regard to the imposition of dumping duties you take the date of export or the date of sale. I have taken the date of sale. That is a clear cut issue. What is the other question that has been raised? Take Clause 4. I thought this was the principal objection in the budget debate, when hon. members pointed out that it should not have been done, with which I agree. I am simply bringing in the Bill the Clause which was discussed there, the question of unsatisfactory labour conditions. This is also a matter which the Board of Trade discussed in their report, and it was discussed over and over again. The point was raised by the hon. member and I said we were going to deal with the matter, and the Board of Trade enunciated the principle in the report. The Bill is only giving effect to that.
It was not adequately discussed.
The hon. member says they were not adequately discussed. This is a finance Bill and is he going to vote against the Bill because he does not agree with some of the details’ Is the Bill not going to be discussed in committee on Monday?
There are certain principles in the Bill that we have never had before in South African legislation.
Will the hon. member mention one?
Yes, Clause 4.
That clause has been before the House on half a dozen occasions. It deals with the whole question of the minimum tariff. The hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) was interested in hearing about the threat and that the minimum tariff was to be used, not only to bargain with, but in cases of unsatisfactory labour conditions. What is the whole tariff for if not to carry out the principles in Clause 4.
We have not had the time to apprehend the meaning of the Bill.
Hon. members will have a chance on Wednesday to discuss all these details. Let us take some of the criticisms which have been levelled against the Bill—some of the clauses mentioned by the hon. member for Cane Town (Harbour) (Maj. van Zyl). He mentions the question of the industries that refuse to sell to any particular merchant unless they sell articles at a particular price. That would be restraint of trade and could be dealt with under Clause 4. That is the very case for which this is designed. Then the hon. member referred to 12 (b) which he found to be such an extra-ordinary clause. It will be interesting to note that that is a re-enactment of a clause which has been in the existing Customs Bill since 1914.
If we had had time to study it, we mights have noticed that.
Take (c), the case of the settler. The hon. member found fault with that. We have done something which they refused to do all these years. We are more generous in this concession than any other dominion. New Zealand limits it to £300, but we allow £400. Then the hon. member speaks about the special clause dealing with the dumping of wheat and flour and the decision of the Minister being final and he says that the rights of Parliament are taken away. Is Parliament now going to administer the laws? Does the hon. member know that this right has always been vested in the Minister under the existing legislation?
We have had no time to go into it, that is the reason.
Then the hon. member also raised the particular case of lactogen. The position in regard to that is that lactogen in the past has been admitted wrongly under the existing tariff as pure desiccated milk, which it is not. It is now being classified in its proper place as an infants’ food and the duty is reduced to 15 per cent.
That does not make it right.
We have not specially legislated for lactogen: we have merely altered the law to classify it in its proper place.
Is the duty increased?
No, it is not increased. If they can show that lactogen is milk, it can come in as milk.
You are giving us too much infants’ food. It is your own side that is swallowing it.
If hon. members want to discuss the details of the Bill, the various clauses, they will have ample opportunity to do so on Monday on the committee stage. The objection which is now raised is pure camouflage.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into committee on Monday.
Fifth Order read: Second reading,—Licences Consolidation Bill.
On the motion of the Minister of Finance, debate adjourned until Monday.
Sixth Order read: Second reading,—New Cape Central Railway Acquisition Bill.
On the 25th March last, I gave tile House certain information in connection with the steps which had been taken by the Government for the taking over of the New Cape Central Railways. On the 18th May I informed the House that the negotiations had been successful and indicated the principle heads of the agreement. This Bill now before the House asks for confirmation of the agreement. It is interesting to know that there are now only two private lines in the Cape Colony. They are the Vryburg line to the border of Bechuanaland and the Milnerton line at Cape Town. The history of the N.C.C.R. is well known, and I have on a former occasion given full information in connection with the provisions of the Bills of the old Cape Parliament dealing with the matter. For years there have been strong representations from the inhabitants of those districts for the taking over of the railway, and I think that there can be no doubt—this will be generally acknowledged—that the representations were reasonable. My predecessors have moreover frankly acknowledged this, as also the previous Government. Every one of the former Governments appreciated the necessity, and if we refer to the papers, then we find that for a large number of years various Ministers have tried to conclude a final agreement taking over the railway, but always without success. As recently as the beginning of 1924, my predecessor, the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger), commenced negotiations for the taking over of the railways, but he was not successful, just as little as his predecessors had succeeded.
I had no time.
It was not a question of time. The hon. member knows that his negotiations at the beginning of 1924 were broken off owing to the purchase price. Their selling price then was £1,250,000, which was the cause of the negotiations being broken off.
I had no time to conclude the matter.
The papers prove that the hon. member was prepared to commence negotiations, but because he would not pay the price, the negotiations failed, and no further steps were taken. As I have already said, negotiations were again commenced in March of this year. I may say—I think it is only fair to mention it—that I think that our great appreciation is due to the new High Commissioner in London for the way in which he carried on the negotiations with the directors of the company. He deserves great praise for the good work he did. The high railway rates in connection with the line raised, justly no doubt, a great feeling of dissatisfaction among the public, and if it had only been confined to that it would not have been so bad, but the high rates charged on the line worked very adversely to the development of those districts, and there is no doubt that the particular districts from Worcester to Mossel Bay, through which the line runs, are among the most important in the Union. I would just like to give the House a few figures in this connection. I find, according to the census, that the districts concerned constitute just under 3 per cent. of the total surface area of the Cape Province. But as regards population we find that more than 3 per cent. of the population of the whole Cape Province live there, therefore there is a closer population there, and this applies especially to the white population in those particular districts, notwithstanding the high railway rates, and they are a lot of progressive people there. This proves, therefore, that these districts need not stand back to the other parts of the Union. Let me for a moment pause at the produce of those districts, take barley. We find that one fourth of the yield from the whole Union is produced there. Oats, wheat, fruit, butter, lucerne, all sorts of agricultural produce are grown there, and it is generally known that they are first class districts for sheep and that they produce exceptionally good wool and the best of these districts is that there is such a great field for development. I only mention these few things to make it plain that in connection with the development that is taking place there we are not paying too much for the line with all the assets, in purchasing for the sum of £1,100,000. It is interesting to note that notwithstanding the high rates the company did not make any great profits. In the years 1917-’24 the average dividend paid by the company was 3.375. For the past eight years it fluctuated from 2 per cent. to 4½ per cent. in 1923 with an average of 3.375. To make clear to hon. members how the public will be served by the taking over of the railway I will just mention a few figures for a comparison between what they pay to-day, and what they will pay under the new tariff after the taking over. I just wish to quote a few typical instances. Take fruit, fresh fruit, from Robertson to Johannesburg. The charge to-day is £3 2s. 6d. per ton, under the new tariff it will be £2 10s., a saving of 12s. 6d. Raisins from Ashton to Cape Town is £1 13s. 4d., under the new tariff 18s. 4d., a saving of 15s. Wool from Buffelsjachts to Mossel Bay per ton £2 13s. 4d., under the new tariff £1 18s. 4d., a saving of 15s. Cement from De Hoek to Swellendam per ton, which to-day is £2 2s. 7d. will be carried under the new tariff at 19s., a saving of £1 3s. 7d. Vegetables in large quantities from Swellendam to Cape Town are now carried per ton at £1 16s. 8d., under the new tariff 16s. 5d., a saving per ton of £1 0s. 3d. and from Swellendam to Johannesburg up to to-day at £3 1s. 8d., in the future at £1 17s. 7d., a saving of £1 4s. 1d. Coal from Witbank to Robertson is £1 10s., under the new tariff £1, a saving of 10s. per ton.. Now take passenger fares. A first-class return ticket from Swellendam to Mossel Bay to-day costs £3 9s. 3d., under the new tariff it will be £2 6s. 9d., a saving of £1 2s. 6d.; but to-day it is not possibly to travel second class. This will be possible under the new regime and one will be able to travel for £1 1s. 6d., a saving thus of £1 17s. 9d. on the return journey from Swellendam to Mossel Bay. From Robertson to Worcester the charge to-day is 16s. 6d., but will be 12s. 3d., and second class 8s. 3d., a saving of 8s. 3d. From Riversdale to Cape Town one pays first class £5 11s. 9d., under the new tariff £4 11s. 9d., or second class £3 1s. 3d., a saving of £2 10s. 6d. It is therefore clear from these specific cases that I have taken that the saving to the public will be enormous. From the point of view of the exploitation it will be of interest to learn what we lose in connection with this. The sum which we will lose according to present reckoning is £30,000 per annum, but I want to say immediately that I expect, and I think rightly, that the development which will take place when the new rates come into operation will be so enormous that the loss will not be so great £50,000 is the loss according to present calculations on the revenue of the company.
Including salaries of officials?
Those are the complete figures. I now come to the provisions of the Bill. I need not go into the preliminary sections 1, 2 and 3. They are the usual sections of similar agreements. I only wish to make a remark as regards the payment of transfer duty and costs of transfer. An arrangement has been made with the Registrar that for the transfers from the company it will not be necessary to pay transfer duty, etc. But I want to say a few words regarding the terms of the agreement of taking over. Hon. members will see that we buy the railway as a whole. In other words not only the railway and buildings, but also the rolling stock. In other words we pay £1,100,000 for the railway and the rolling stock, etc. The only thing that is not included is a certain bond of the company, debts of the company, certain shares in a co-operative society and office furniture of the company in London. Otherwise everything is included in the purchase. All immovable property, buildings, farms, are included in the property. I think it is not more than right that I should indicate what the shareholders are getting under the agreement. As hon. members know the capital which shareholders halve invested is much higher than the amount which will be paid to them, namely, £1½ millions. The amount which will be paid to them will be divided as follows amongst the shareholders. First debenture holders £90 for every £100, second bondholders £80 for every £100, and the ordinary shareholders £50 for every £100. The shareholders therefore lose a considerable sum as regards their capital. They used to receive interest on the average of 3.375 per cent. and with a view to all this we cannot say that they are gaining. They are making a loss. In the circumstances we were right in paying them an amount, an amount that although it was not on the high side was also not too little because if we had wished to use the power that we had then we could have beaten the company down more. Section 3 makes provision for the taking, over of the railway and it provides that the assets shall be taken over by the South African Railways as on the 1st March last. We propose to take immediate steps to improve the railway by taking up the rails and substituting rails of 80 lbs. in their place so that the railway can be used as a through line to Port Elizabeth. We have already put an amount down on the estimates for this purpose. The railway does not to-day come up to the standard of the South African railways and instead of tinkering with it we are going to lay the heavy rails so that it will no longer be necessary to detach the heavy locomotives at Worcester.
How much are you using for this purpose?
I have not the figures with me. I think that about £100,000 is asked for as a first instalment. It is proposed to take over the railway as soon as Parliament approves the agreement and because we think that there will be no difficulty in that respect we intend to take it over on 1st August, that is at midnight of the 31st July. We undertake to take over the staff excepting those who receive over £500 but there are only two of those. There are altogether 431 officials and labourers. They are made up of the two persons mentioned, 146 white men and 283 coloured men. This entire staff will be taken over. We shall not give them notice with the exception of the officials who are already over 60 years of age, to whom reasonable notice will be given. It is not our intention to let them go at once, but we cannot keep them on. It has been strongly urged upon the Government to retain their services. But we do not retain our own people after their sixtieth year and therefore we cannot agree to retain members of that staff any longer. As regards the salaries of the staff I should like to make it clear that we intend to let them work for the first twelve months at the same rate of wages.
Is there a big difference?
Yes, there is an enormous difference, and in some cases it is only barely half of our scale. We want to make it pay in order to find out how we should grade the members of the staff. We will of course have enquiry made to be able to grade them and to fix their capacity for the purposes of the grades of the South African railways. This will however be completed in 12 months and then we will follow the scale of the South African railways. In the meantime there will be as little shuffling of the staff between that line and the other railways as possible, excepting of course in so far as it is necessary to send officials there to inaugurate our system. No pension fund exists for those officials and we have been strongly urged to allow them to contribute to the pension fund of the South African railways with retrospective privileges. There is of course no objection to their contributing to the fund, but when it comes to retrospective effect then we come up against difficulties and I think that it is impossible to comply with that part of the request. When the private railways were taken over at Port Elizabeth and Durban former Governments did not concede that either. I fear that it is impossible to permit the staff of the N.C.C.R. to contribute to the funds for the periods that they were in the service of the company. The latest financial position is as follows: on the building of the railway a subsidy of £385,831 was contributed and we are now paying £1,100,000 which makes a total of £1,485,831 with interest of £74,060 at a rate of 5 per cent. In 1923 the revenue of the company was £144,055, from this I deduct the loss of £30,000 as a result of the lowering of the rates, this leaves £144,005. In the same year the expenditure was £77,835. This will be increased by £10,000 by the granting of our scale of wages. But on the other hand there will be a saving in rolling stock and costs of management to the same amount so that our expenditure will also be £77,835. I add this now to the interest on the capital amount that I have mentioned and we find that we have a surplus of something more than 2½ per cent. over against the average profits of the company of 3,375 per cent. But I have no doubt that the districts concerned will now develop to such an extent—we have progressive people there—that these figures which are pure estimates will he exceeded. I need not say anything more. I just want to say this that the staff as far as I know have rendered good services to the company and I do not doubt that they will use their utmost endeavours and fulfil their duties in the interests of the development of the country. I have had interviews with the staff. They gave me the assurance and I accept it that they will do their utmost in the interest of the company. We want to congratulate the population of that area that they, after so many years of struggling, have attained their object. But at the same time the Government wants to appeal to them to see to it that the necessary development takes place there so that there shall be no shortage in traffic.
After 20 years of agitation and hard work we have now attained our object. I can assure the hon. Minister and the Government that it will be a great day for those districts when the railway is officially taken over. I am glad to learn from the Minister that he thinks that the south-western districts are good districts and that decent people live there. And the Minister is not exaggerating. If there is one part—and the Ministers of the previous Government will acknowledge it—that have not always come to the Government for assistance then it is the south-western districts. We have always just asked for facilities for development. The south-western district eradicated scab and jackals on their own, but unfortunately the railway rates have kept back the development of those districts. On account of the rates being so high many farmers said: why should we produce if we practically have to give up one-third of the yield for railway rates? We, of course, send our things chiefly to the Western Province. I have sent much produce and still send to-day, but half of the earnings is swallowed up in railway rates. The company unfortunately has not been able to grant any cheap railway rates. But this undoubtedly much retarded development. The hon. Minister has expressed the hope that the population will on its side do its best. I assure him that the traffic will be double in five years. Thousands of fruit trees are now being planted, and as far as possible they are using the best farming methods. The south-western district sowed more this year than ever before, in the mere expectation that the railway line would be taken over. The higher rates are now ended, and the farmers will do their best to produce as much as possible. On behalf of the farmers of the south-western districts I wish to heartily thank the Minister and the Government for the taking over of the line. We agitated for many years and got lots of sympathy, but the Nationalist Government had to come into power to take over the railway line. This shows that the Government looks at the interest of the people as a whole. As regards the company, we have had reason for complaint about the high rates, but the service was always good. The service improved and the officials treated passengers and consignors well. I hope that after the taking over the Government and the officials will also do everything possible to treat us as well as possible. The staff always worked under very great difficulties with the company. A man had a large passenger train under his control and had to look after everything, and the pay was very insignificant. I hope that under the new control the treatment of the staff will be good. I want again to heartily thank the Government and the Minister. The 1st August will be a great day and we shall celebrate it. We hope the Minister will be able to be present.
While congratulating the Minister, and also the Government, on having come to the consummation of taking over this railway line, I feel I would be failing in my duty if I did not pay warm thanks to the late Minister of Railways and Harbours (Mr. Jagger). I know how far the negotiation has gone, and I think a tribute is due to him, and I think also to my predecessor, and members of Parliament, such as Mr. A. C. Vincent, who have consistently and persistently raised this question in this House. I think I am in duty bound to mention this. The purchase price, £1,100,000, is a very reasonable one. The railway serves the finest parts of the Union, and it has unlimited potentialities for the growing of wheat, barley and oats, and also for the production of very fine merino wool. I am convinced that within a very short time the line will pay handsomely. In fairness to the company, I must say it had to pay an enormous price for its coal and also heavy municipal and divisional council rates which, naturally, the Government will not have to pay. As to the staff, there are only two persons who are not to be taken over—the general manager and the traffic manager. I am not pleading for the general manager, but I would like the Minister to consider the traffic manager—Mr. Cooke—who has had 33 years’ service with the company and 10 years under the Government. If he has to go on the streets he would not be justly treated, and I hope the Minister will give his case every attention. The employees of the company are not to be entitled to any pension rights. I foresee the difficulty of placing them on the pension roll, but there is a way out. When the men waited on the Minister of Railways they suggested that the company, which has put aside something like £20,000 for distribution amongst the staff, should be asked to pay the arrears so that these men might be placed on the South African Railways pension roll. I think that is worthy of consideration. The great majority of the men are prepared to pay the arrears so as to enjoy pension rights. I must pay a tribute to the officials of the New Cape Central line, for I have always found them most courteous and willing to give every assistance, both to the mercantile and farming communities. Thanks are also due to the company which built the railway for the developments which have taken place in the southwestern districts are due to the energies of the company. The only trouble we have had with the company was due to the excessive rates they charged. However, with lower rates, we are now going to have more traffic. The people of the south-western districts will be gratified if the Minister could arrange to give a better service, and a daily service to Port Elizabeth would be a convenience not only to the residents of the south-western districts, but also to through passengers from Cape Town to Algoa Bay. I heartily congratulate the Government and those friends who have at all times done their best to get the railway purchase through, and I am voicing the opinions in my district in saying we are pleased with the consummation we have been so eagerly waiting for.
I have never yet risen with greater satisfaction in the House. I must honestly say that if there was ever a time of which I have been proud of the Government then it is to-night. I feel that we are now reaping the fruit of all the work in the interests of our party and also of those on the country side who worked so hard for us. I am thankful to the Government and also to our High Commissioner, Mr. Smit, who conducted the negotiations in London. We have had relief and a relief which we hoped for in vain from the former Government, although 18 deputations went to the former Government to beg of them to take over the railway. The answer that we got was that we should thank heaven that we had a railway and that there were so many other places that had no railways at all. The terrible taxes that the farmers and all in those districts had to pay in the form of high rates were not thought of. I am going to mention a few of them which I can remember in the rush of the moment. A ticket from Riversdale to Cape Town cost under the company £5 19s. 7d., and now it will cost £3 1s. 3d., from Mossel Bay to Riversdale £1 14s. and now 15s. 9d., on forage which we produce very greatly we had to pay 21s. as far as Worcester, and now we pay 11s. 3d. Wool 20s. as against 31s. 8d. under the company, and so I could mention many others. That is what we paid, and if we reckon in everything else that we had to pay then we could almost have bought the railway. What surprises me so is what the hon. member for Swellendam (Mr. Buirski) has said here to-day. He said himself the other day that he has 5,000 bags of grain and that by reason of the taking over of the railway he would make a profit of £250 on them. The old S.A.P. fathers in Heidelberg said that they were sending him as a Nathaniel to Parliament. I will not say that he is that. But instead of thanking the Government he goes with the most venomous member of Parliament to Swellendam and goes and tells the people there that we are occupied in dipping sheep to death, and with native legislation, something with which” the people there have no concern. He told me that I could advise him about planting pumpkins. I will not say that because I shall be ruled out of order. I will not, say that the hon. member is pumpkin-headed.
The hon. member is now going a bit too far.
I will not say it, but this is the sort of man who now attacks our Government. He says that his former Minister would also have done it and that we have to thank Mr. Vincent and who else for the taking over. My greatest argument is that they in the past exercised no influence on their Governments to be able to induce the taking over of the line. They cannot say that the financial position is now so much better because they said yesterday that it was worse. The line is being taken over because our Government is sorry for the farmers. I appreciate this, and I hope that the hon. member for Swellendam will also do so, at any rate I hope that the farmers who trusted him as a Nathaniel will take note of his attitude. I am very glad that the Minister is taking over the staff. The coloured people were told that we were their enemies, and they were terrified when they heard that our Government would take over the railway. They now find however that the Nationalist Government is looking after them. I hope that the Government will go still further to show those people that we do not hate them. I am thankful to the Government, and I hope the hon. member for Swellendam will also be thankful just like the Saps in my village
Amid all this rejoicing, the hon. member who comes from that part of the world (Mr. Badenhorst) seems to forget the time, which I remember very well, when this railway was opened with the same rejoicing. As the hon. member for Swellendam (Mr. Buirski) has stated, this line has contributed very materially to the development of that district. The Minister knows the same. Anybody who has known that district, as I have for the last 40 years, must recognize the enormous good that that railway has done towards the development of that part of the country, and I think some thanks are due to the railway company, who had struggled on all these years and never had a remunerative proposition, for what they have done in connection with the development of that part of South Africa. I am, of course, going to support the passing of this Bill, because it is carrying out the policy of the late Government when we were in office. There is one point on which I want to correct my hon. friend the Minister. He seems to be under the impression that I dropped the negotiations. Nothing of the kind. What took place was that as soon as the resolution had been agreed to empowering the Government to open negotiations with the company, I commenced to correspond with the then High Commissioner (Sir Edgar Walton) and the matter had not gone very far, certain correspondence had taken place, when the dissolution came along. Then I will admit that I did not pursue the matter further. Of course there is not the remotest shadow of doubt that if we had remained in office this line would have been taken over in the same way. I cannot conceive that there can be any doubt on that point. The Minister has taken up the negotiations and he has succeeded, and I congratulate him on his success. I do not grudge him that at all. As regards the price, I think the price paid is a reasonable one. It depends in some degree, of course, upon the state of the line. I notice from Clause 4 that two engineers are to be appointed, one of them representing the Department, and one representing the company, to go over the line and agree as to its condition. Has that report come in yet?
It is being dealt with.
Well, at any rate, if the line is in anything like fair condition, then I think the price is a good price, but it is not excessive. It works out at £5,366 per mile. Probably it would cost us as much to build as things are at the present moment. There is also another thing to be said. I agree with the Minister that it would not be fair to try and drive the hardest possible bargain with the company. There I cordially agree. I repeat that this company has served the district to the best of its ability and laid down the line when the old Cape Colony Government could not afford the money. We admit the rates are high, but there are one or two things to be considered. It was never a good paying proposition. The cost worked out last year at 11s. 1½d. per train mile against our 8s. 4½d. Then, furthermore, the taxes they paid last year amounted to £8,397; local taxes £3,355, and income and dividend tax £5,242. So far as our own railways are concerned, we pay no rates or taxes; and we will in future pay no rates or taxes on this particular line. As the Minister has pointed out, the shareholders are not by any means getting 20s. in the £. The total loss to the shareholders is £346,000. The Minister has paid a fair price, but not an excessive price, and I think on the whole the arrangement is a good one, and we, on this side of the House, very cordially support it.
I also wish to say a word about this railway. One of the main arteries between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. I must congratulate the hon. member for Riversdale (Mr. Badenhorst) on his excellent after dinner speech. I do not know how he can talk in the manner he has done in regard to this railway. Everybody knows that negotiations have been going on, and that every Government has been trying to get it. We are all glad that it has been got. I am sure we all congratulate the Minister on being the means of getting this railway. Might I ask the Minister to take Mr. Cooke, the man in the second position, into consideration. I have known him for 20 years, and if the Minister cannot take him over in his present position he might take him at a certain salary. A man like this cannot be turned on to the streets. If the Minister thinks his services cannot be utilized, he might at least be put on a £500 scale if that is the limit, so as to give him an opportunity. I know the Minister won’t in his heart turn away anyone. I feel it would be an act of injustice to turn a man, at his time of life, into the street, in taking over this concern, because a man like that with the salary he has had cannot bring up his family and save very much. I agree with the hon. member as regards these men and their pensions. The Minister is given an opportunity in the new Superannuation Bill to treat these men well. I think the Minister must be feeling that he requires a halo after his success this year in the measures he has carried through. I hope he will not leave a single blot on his memory by leaving Mr. Cooke or anybody else out. I think this company, as stated by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger), have done great service in developing a part of the country that would never have been developed if they had not taken it up. When my hon. friend talks about cost per mile there is no analogy between a line that is practically level and one with gradients which make running very costly, and then the salaries on the N.C.C.R. are not on the same scale, and all these factors must be taken into consideration. I am sure the country is to be congratulated on getting this, the last railway of any size that is not in the possession of the Government, and completing the network of railways, and I believe that in the future the country through which the railway passes will be greatly benefited, and that this will be one of the paying lines and a credit to the Government which has taken it over.
A great deal has already been said about the taking over of this railway, but as a representative of two of the districts who are very much interested in the matter, I feel that I should be neglecting my duty if I did not say a few words of appreciation and thanks to the Government, and especially to the Minister of Railways and Harbours for the great service that has been rendered to the country, and especially to the districts that the railway runs through. I cannot, however, quite agree with my friends who have so rejoiced about the good business of the taking over. I think that in that line we have one of the dearest in the country. Let us just see what has happened in the past. I do not wish to go into the whole history, but only to make a few remarks. The lines were built between the years 1889 and 1906. The Cape Government at that time entered into a contract with the company, and gave a subsidy of £385,000. The first section was built in 1889, 36 years ago from Worcester to Ashton, 41 miles, and the subsidy for that section was £75,000. The company had that subsidy for 36 years without interest. Subsequently the £75,000 was capitalized. At 5 per cent. interest the interest for all those years amounts to £135,000. If we add the capital of £75,000 then we get £210,000. This means (the section is 41 miles), an amount of £5,000 per mile for the section. A further section was built from Ashton to Swellendam. That portion was completed just ten years later. The subsidy was £61,000, and the length of the section also 41 miles. The interest on the £61.000 for the 26 years at 5 per cent. comes to £79,950, total with capital of £61,000, therefore £141,400. We come to the third section from Swellendam to Riversdale in 1903, subsidy £138,000, distance 64 miles. At 5 per cent. interest for 23 years the interest comes to £128,800. Total for this section is therefore £286,000. From Riversdale to Forebay the section was opened in 1906. Distance 58 miles, subsidy at £200,000 per mile is £116,000. The interest up to 1925 at five per cent. works out at £110,200, and with capital the section works out at £226,200. Taking all the subsidies and all the interest for the various sections together we get a total of £846,450 for the line. Now the Government pays £1,100.000, therefore the line costs us in all £1,946,000. The costs of building to the company were £1,475,000. thus the company makes a profit of almost half a million besides the profits that have been made all these years. If we take the total amount and the length of the line then the cost of the line works out at about £9,000 per mile. I do not say that the present Government have paid too much, but I blame the former Government that they did not long since take the line over. If they had taken over the line in 1910, then about £200,000 would have been saved on the purchase. I want to fully admit that the company had to fight with difficulties, and that the company contributed much to the development of those districts, but the high rates stood in the way of progress. The people there are not lacking in enterprise and a progressive spirit. I expect that that part will now be one of the most prosperous, and will be developed to the highest point. I thank the Minister and the Nationalist Government again heartily, and can give him the assurance that the people of my constituency highly appreciate what he has done to-day.
I want to ask the Minister why he did not give them Government stock to the value, instead of giving them cash. We have heard a lot about the stringency of money and this is one of the occasions when the Government might have tried to give them Government stock instead of cash.
The House will understand why I have not made any reference to the services the company has rendered. That omission is not to be taken as lack of appreciation. I have already on a former occasion indicated the Government’s appreciation of what the company has done in this regard. I want to say again that I cordially share the views which have been expressed by members that the Government fully appreciate what has been done by the company in this regard. I do not think there is any point in further discussing the question of the negotiations. The position is that the late Gen. Botha attempted it, the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) attempted it, and my hon. friend Mr. Jagger attempted it, but they all failed.
I do not admit that for one moment.
I am not going to say, as the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) said at Robertson, that the cause of failure was the stringency in the money market. I would not make any such absurd statement. Whatever the reasons may have been, previous Ministers and Prime Ministers attempted it.
They had never had such a great man as you, you see.
That is another question. What I object to is that it should be represented to the country that I took up negotiations which were pending. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) attempted to make the deal. He did not succeed. Then the matter dropped. The matter was taken up by this Government, and they brought it to a successful conclusion.
It did not drop; that is absolutely clear.
The dissolution took place and negotiations dripped.
I agree with you. We had not changed our policy.
That is just what the late Government lacked. They had the policy in words, but when it came to carrying it out, they did not—
In the words of my hon. friend, the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. The hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Brown) has raised the question of the position of Mr. Cook. He has been a very valuable servant of the Cape Central, but he falls under the clause in regard to the salary of £500. I also understand that he is over 60 years. That being so, it is impossible for me to reconsider the case of Mr. Cook, however much sympathy I have with him. I understand he has been a very good servant to the Cape Central, and I regret we cannot make use of his services, but if we were to do so it would give a just grievance to other railway servants. The hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce) has asked me why we did not offer Government stock. The fact was the company wanted cash, and in order to make the deal we had to give them cash.
If you had been firmer they would have taken stock.
Then why did not the hon. member, when he was a member of the Cabinet, put the deal through on the basis of stock. I think all the important points have been dealt with, and I trust the House will now take the second reading.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee on Monday.
The House adjourned at