House of Assembly: Vol5 - MONDAY 20 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
Before proceeding with the Orders of the Day, I would like to point out that the University Schools Transfer Bill, the order for the second reading of which is on the Order Paper for to-day, cannot be proceeded with as a public Bill, The Bill proposes inter alia to divest the universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch of certain property belonging to them. Although these two universities were constituted as such by public Acts they cannot, in my opinion, be regarded as Government bodies, but are bodies corporate possessing rights, powers and privileges. It must be pointed out that it was only for special reasons that Parliament passed Acts Nos. 13 and 14 of 1916 as public measures, and that these universities correspond in every way with the Witwatersrand university, Johannesburg, which was constituted by private Act. Consequently, as these two universities are not Government institutions, it is not competent to dispossess them of property by means of an ordinary public Bill. In view of the fact that there is a question of public policy involved in the Bill, the Bill should be regarded as a hybrid measure. The order for the second reading must therefore be discharged and the Bill must stand referred to the examiners for report. If eventually allowed to proceed the Bill will after second reading have to be referred to a select committee in terms of Standing Order No. 183 (Private Bills).
If I may I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Education in that regard, but I see he is not in his place. I would like to know what the Government are going to do in this matter, because they have got things into a fine mess. On the strength of this Bill the Administrator of the Cape has passed an ordinance dispossessing these teachers of their pension rights. This Bill is partly to put that right.
I am afraid the hon. member cannot discuss it now.
That may be, but I want to call public attention to the fact.
Message received from the Senate returning the Wage Bill with amendments.
Amendments to be considered to-morrow.
Leave was granted to the Minister of Finance to introduce the Financial Adjustments Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading to-morrow.
First Order read: Second Reading,—Pensions (Supplementary) Bill.
Hon. members will see that this is really a one clause Bill brought up to give effect to the pensions passed by the House on a previous occasion. I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
If there is no objection, I would move—
House to go into committee to-morrow.
Second Order read: South-West Africa Constitution Bill, as amended in Committee of the Whole House, to be considered.
Amendments in Clauses 22, 23, 27, 35 (Dutch) and 38, put and agreed to.
I am sorry I cannot accept this amendment. It is clear to me from what the hon. member for Hanover Street said last time that he did not construe the sentence in the sense in which it ought to be construed. He took it that by the words
that the Assembly was intended to make a further report, but the further report is only made by the Administrator, and the Assembly only recommends. It is very clear that it is not necessary that the Administrator should send his report to the Assembly because all the Assembly does is to forward its recommendation to the Governor-General. Members can easily see that if the Administrator’s report were to be sent to the Assembly you would have this position, that the Administrator would be forced to communicate to the Assembly matters, which for State reasons, should not be divulged, because it may be we may have to do with matters of an international character.
Amendment put and negatived.
On Clause 39,
Three Words seem to have fallen out in the English text. After “shall” should be inserted “come into question”.
New Clause 39. amendments in Clauses 42, 44 and the Schedule, put and agreed to and the Bill, as amended, adopted and read a third time.
Third Order read: Second Reading,—Appropriation (1925-’26) Bill.
I move—That the Bill be now read a second time.
Is my hon. friend going to give us a statement as to the financial position? We have had no statement as to how lie wound up last financial year. Three months of the current financial year have passed, and we certainly ought to have some idea as to how the revenue is coming in, and he should give the House some idea what he expects in the future. I am surprised my hon. friend has not given us a brief statement. It is the usual procedure when introducing the final Appropriation Bill to give the financial position as at the end of June. Perhaps I may give a few figures which will be probably interesting. I do not know whether hon. members have made any estimate of the money we are voting in these Bills. The total we are voting here is £66,054,030, in one year, divided up as follows. Ordinary expenditure, that is Union Government expenditure, is £26,546,000; ordinary railway expenditure is £25,415,000, making a total expenditure for the two services of £51,962,000. Besides that there is loan expenditure £14,090,000, which brings the total up to £66,054,000. I would like to compare these with the figures of last year. The total figure in 1924-’25 was £61,276,000, so there has been an increase in this year’s expenditure of £4,777,000, divided up as follows. Increase in general expenditure £2,200,000. In railways there is an increase of £1,507,016, and in loan expenditure there is an increase of £1,070,000. My hon. friend has not yet put on the Table the revised estimates of revenue; I made some enquiries this morning. One is compelled to take the Estimates of Revenue as put upon the Table (first print). These are put down at £25,822,000. If you add £500,000 as additional taxation we have voted this session that brings the total estimated revenue to £25,322,000. This will leave a deficit on these figures for the current financial year of £224,000. Now take the Railways. The total estimated revenue is estimated at £25,341,000, as set forth in the Green Book, page 2, and the expenditure is £25,415,000, as per the Appropriation Bill. That leaves a deficit of £73,000. Then there is the deficit brought forward from last year, 1924-’25, of £5,185,000. My hon. friend the Railway Minister thus starts with a deficit in Railways of £78,491. One has not much comment to make on these figures; but one cannot resist saying that it is a fine commentary on the criticisms and promises of hon. members opposite, when they accused the late Government of extravagance both in ordinary and loan expenditure. The late Government spent enormous efforts and gained very great unpopularity in endeavouring to get down and keep down the expenditure as we found it, and we were able to reduce expenditure both in the ordinary, loan and railway expenditure. My hon. friends always stood by and said we were doing nothing; that we were extravagant, and so forth. As far as I can judge, the present Government are starting the old methods, and expenditure, to judge by this year, is going very rapidly to increase. All I can say is that the country cannot stand very much more of it. The country cannot stand much more taxation. I hope the Government, in any case, will keep a tight hand on expenditure. It is not for want of warning that they have put up these figures. If they or not very careful indeed, I say, advisedly, and with some little experience, that they will very soon have the expenditure of this country running into figures which the country cannot afford to pay.
Of course, the question of extravagance is not to be gauged altogether from the expenditure. It is father the quality of the expenditure which is the criterion, and in that regard the ex-Government stands condemned. They wasted the money. It is perfectly true there can be very little change. It is only a question of degree when you do not change the financial system. I join with the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) on one point, and that is when he says we are rapidly building up a national debt which will inevitably break us. The interest payment alone has become so tremendous that people will have to be taxed so heavily that they will never be able to face the future, and particularly the near future. But I got up to take the opportunity, which you kindly suggested to me when I spoke on one of the taxation measures, of bringing forward this question of the report of the War Pensions Committee. I saw the Minister early in the session about the matter, and he informed me that they had not had time to go into it. I accepted that, of course, without reservation, and only waited to see if anything would be done. Though several months have passed, practically nothing has been done in the direction of giving effect to the majority report of that commission. I am not complaining about the majority report, although I do think that that portion of the report has certainly; earned the serious consideration of the Minister, the House and the country; because, in my opinion, it deals with matters that are of serious import to the people concerned, and, therefore, though the Government and the whole House might be prejudiced against the general point of view usually held by the individual making that report, unfortunately, I contend that, under the circumstances, all serious consideration should have been given to it, and in point of fact I claim that effect should be given to it. But the most serious part of it is that the commission as a whole, composed of members from all sides of the House, unanimously came to a decision on certain points which were looked upon as of serious moment, and I find that no effect has been given to the report on one very important matter indeed, and that is the question of the virtual condemnation of the personnel of one side of the Minister’s department, though not in so many words. I am the last man to pursue individuals; but it was our business, to find where the weak spots were. We thought we had, we gave expression to our point of view, based on evidence, and we made our report in all good faith, and in all seriousness, and it was unanimous. That being the case, one would have thought that the Minister would have given some consideration to that view point, but nothing has been done. There you had a commission appointed to enquire into general grievances—not particular grievances—and to report thereon, and I feel that as a result of this the whole time and expenditure has been completely wasted, and so far from grievances being redressed, the Minister is now busily engaged in manufacturing fresh ones. It is a very serious matter to the people concerned. It must not be forgotten that the men and women who came to give evidence looked upon that commission as likely to annunciate what was going to be their charter. But they are doomed to disappointment. They feel they have been let down, and the commission feels that too. I, particularly, as a member, feel I have been let down. That commission found that one of the most fruitful sources of grievances was the fact that the medical section was not completely self-controlled; that it had to go for its guidance and for its recommendations to some other section. I am not going into all the details. We recommended that the medical section should no longer be under anybody else; but under the direct control of the Treasurer. That has not been given effect to. Instead, I find that the very men whom we condemned as officials of that department are still in control of the medical section and proving themselves to be a stumbling block; so much so that a man whom we found to be an excellent servant, a very fine medical man, a man holding the scales of justice, from the medical point of view, evenly between the department and the men and women concerned, has found it necessary to resign. He looked to this report to secure him in his position where he would not have to sailtrim to anybody, a man that would not sailtrim, and as a result of the non-giving-effect to our report that gentleman has found it necessary to resign. He had intended to resign before; but pending the investigation and subsequent report, and the probable giving effect to of that report, he stayed his hand. From what I have been able to glean, the method of promotion of the remaining men in that medical section is not what is to be desired. There were various other things; but I am not going into them all. That is the main thing, and should have been given effect to, if no other. One or two minor items have been given effect to, but the whole point is that the enquiry, as I understood it, was to remove the then-existing grievances, and build up a state of affairs so that no more grievances would be created. Neither object has been attained for the reasons I am giving. I am constantly getting correspondence from ex-soldiers and dependents stating that the state of affairs to-day is worse than it was before. I gave the Minister an opportunity, privately, but he did not accept it. I now give him the last public opportunity of saying what is his intention in regard to redressing these grievances, and removing the personnel. I do not mean discharging them, but removing them from the opportunity of doing further damage to the cause which, I believe, he originally had at heart when he appointed the commission, and place the medical section in such a position that they will not feel they will have to be guided by laymen or some other medical man pulling the strings behind the scenes. In conclusion I would like to express my regret that, owing to the unfortunate circumstances we always find ourselves in—and here I am with the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger)—we find ourselves, as a tired body of men, considering, perhaps, what is the most important portion of our legislation at the fag-end of the session, and I do suggest that the opportunity should be given next session of so arranging the business of the House that we can consider these important matters when we are fresh, and when we are not looked at askance for discussing a matter which is one of serious import to the nation, and which should not be rushed through ill globular fashion.
I want to read to the House some documents laid on the Table a few days ago. This is the only opportunity one has for reading and making public certain documents which are laid on the Table, and I want this particular correspondence put on record. It may not be possible to discuss it. I want to read correspondence in connection with the proposed deportation of Mr. Clements Kadalie. The first letter is dated the 1st of October, 1920, from the office of the South African Police, Pretoria, and is from the Commissioner of Police. It reads—
(Signed) G. D. Gray,
for Commissioner of Police.
The second letter is from the chief immigration office in Pretoria, and dater 2nd October, 1920, to the principal immigration officer, Cape Town—
(Signed) W. Dobson, Immigration Officer. The third letter is from the principal immigration officer in the Cape Province, who replies—
(Signed) E. Brande, Principal Immigration Officer, Cape Town.
Then the Minister issues his order—
(Signed) H. N. Venn, Under-Secretary for the Interior.
Dated at Pretoria the 2nd day of November, 1920.
Then comes a telegram from the principal immigration officer, Cape Town, to the Minister of the Interior at Pretoria—
Kadalie appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court turned down his appeal. Then a new feature entered into the proceedings. A firm of solicitors in Cape Town, Messrs. Dichmont and Dichmont, sent a telegram to the Minister—
They confirmed this telegram by letter dated the 10th of January, 1921—
No reply came. On the 15th, Dichmont and Dichmont wired again—
Then a wire comes to the principal immigration officer—
And a wire was sent to Dichmont and Dichmont—
The correspondence speaks for itself.
I congratulate the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) on the effective intelligence department he has established in the department of the Interior. I presume he knew what the reply would be. It does not affect me as it took place before I came into office.
But it affects your party.
Yes, otherwise it would not have been read.
An example of purity from Bloemfontein North.
Never mind, we shall have our turn. The reason I wish to take notice of the incident is because I would like to impress upon the Government that it is undesirable that confidential police reports about people suspected of being illegal immigrants or in fact about any people on whom police reports have been made, should be laid on the Table of the House unless there are very urgent reasons. I do not see any objection to telegrams or letters urging Ministers to do this or that for political reasons being laid on the Table, and if these things are done there is no reason why they should not be made public, but it is undesirable that confidential reports should be made public throughout the Union as this has been and it is detrimental to the police service.
The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) thought I should have given a statement as to the present financial position. I am not in a position to disclose any facts to the House which have not already been put before the House. The hon. member raises a question of the results of last year’s working. I made my budget statement on the 8th of April and at that time I practically had the results of the previous year’s working. I informed the House I expected the surplus to be in the neighbourhood of £800.000.
The actual surplus according to the “Gazette” statement is £689,000.
The actual figure is in the neighbourhood of £800,000.
Is the “Gazette” wrong?
I do not know the “Gazette” statement the hon. member has referred to.
The financial statement issued on the 9th of July.
The figure is £800,000 and that is the figure by which the existing revenue will be reduced. The House passed supplementary estimates which will increase the estimated deficit for the present financial year to £455,000. The revised statement is not before the House and I understand it has never been possible in the past to have it until after the prorogation of Parliament It has not yet been printed, but it will be ready later on. The hon. member has pointed out the actual figures of our expenditure, but I cannot see the point the hon. member was trying to make. The figures are high, but they have been explained. We are making increased provision in connection with the present administration which the previous government did not do therefore had accumulated deficits of hundreds of thousands of pounds which largely account for the increased expenditure. The hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) raised the question of the manner in which the recommendations of the Pensions Committee have been given effect to. It is incorrect to say that nothing has been done to give effect to the majority report. I would point to a very large number of important recommendations we have given effect to. For instance, we have given effect to the payment of terminal gratuities to the extent of about £60,000. We have also given effect to the recommendations regarding the payment of an additional 10 per cent. to widows; arrears from April 1. 1919. to date of re-board; terminal gratuities according to rank; pensions during period of imprisonment of strikers; all dependents’ cases to be treated alike; Pensions Board to decide question of treatment locally or otherwise; Pensions Board to authorize treatment by doctor other than district surgeon; Pensions Board to be careful in hernia cases; new board to consider certain Parliamentary petitions; new board to consider grievances of coloured ex-soldiers: new board to consider cancelled pensions in certain doubtful cases; grievances of Imperial cases to be taken up by the Union Government on their behalf; question of penalization for crimes; no cases to be disposed of without a final board; financial assistance to Bond van Oud Stryders; bodies of deceased soldiers to be conveyed to their late homes free, and only reputable firms of undertakers to be employed; all facts known to the department to be placed at the disposal of examining authorities; assessment of alternative awards. As to the dual control of medical inspections, that was remedied last May, and now the doctors are under the direct control of the treasury.
Only since Dr. St. Leger’s resignation.
I very much regret his resignation, but I know of absolutely no friction between him and the department. There was absolutely no reason for him to resign. The Act lays it down that the Minister of Public Health should appoint medical boards, but the whole thing has now been put under the direct control of the treasury. So far as Dr. St. Leger is concerned there was no friction or difficulty between him and the department. On a previous occasion he also tendered his resignation. I had practically given the new Pensions Board a free hand to examine every genuine case of grievance, but a difficulty arose where pensioners had been to the Appeal Board and had exhausted their legal remedies. It was doubtful whether I could authorize their cases to be reopened by the Pensions Board, but I have taken legal advice and I have been informed that the Minister could authorize the reopening, but could not give effect to the awards without ratification by Parliament. Where a man has exhausted his legal remedies, we will allow him to go before a special board, and we will submit a schedule of recommended cases next session. This also applies to those cases where men have not applied for pensions until the time for making the application had expired. We propose to have all these cases examined, but in cases where an award is made not to pay out until such time as the award can be authorized by Parliament. The medical side of the Pensions Department has been put right, and the special Pensions Board has authority to deal with all cases in which disability was not due to military service. I now hope that all cases of genuine complaint will disappear. However, I am afraid hon. members will still continue to receive letters stating that their writers are dissatisfied; but we cannot satisfy every case, and unless a man can make out a good case for receiving a pension he cannot get it. I submit I have carried out practically all the recommendations of the special board.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee now.
House in Committee:
Op Clause 1,
I want to assist my hon. friend in the criticisms I make. I know the pressure brought to bear upon him to spend money, but he should maintain a stiff back. Two estimates have been made of the total income of every living person in this country of all races. Professor Lehfeldt estimated the income at £137,000,000. and Mr. Alexander Aitken estimated it at £136,000,000. I have taken estimate of our national income to-day at £140,000,000. Taking the Union and provincial taxation at £22,000,000, it will be seen that 15 per cent. of our total earnings go to the Government. In other words, 3s. in every £ that everybody earns has to be spent to keep the Government going. This demonstrates very clearly the heavy taxation under which the country is suffering, and shows that it is not making such progress as to warrant an increase in taxation.
The apparent discrepancy to which my hon. friend referred just now is explained by the fact that the statement was an unaudited one, and does not take into account the ordinary surrenders. The figure will be as near as possible £800,000.
Clause put and agreed to.
Remaining clauses, schedules and title put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and read a third time.
Fourth Order read: Second reading,—Railways and Harbours Appropriation (1925-’26) Bill.
I wish to give the correct estimated figures for the coming year, because the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) gave figures, which, although approximate, are not the actual ones. As a result of additional expenditure the total estimated expenditure for the railways, harbours and steamships of the Union for the current financial year is £25,415,144, and the gross revenue £25,353,927, leaving a total estimated deficit at the end of the current financial year of £61,217, to which must be added the accumulated deficit of £5.185, so that the total estimated deficit is £66,402. I may say that every step will be taken to keep a close watch on every item of expenditure so that we may make savings on the estimated expenditure. I can assure the hon. member that this is being done at the present time, and it will continue to be done. I move the second reading of this Bill.
I want simply to call attention to one particular item which I did not have the opportunity of doing when we were in committee, and that is the item for the reduction of interest-bearing capital, £250,000. That, I contend, is simply the creation of another little fund where the Minister can stow away a certain amount of his revenue quite unnecessarily and, I contend, contrary to the law. The Act of Union in section 127 laid it down very clearly how the railway revenue could be spent, and that was done in order to safeguard the interests of the people of the interior who depend, to a very large extent, on cheap railway transport. Section 127 of the South Africa Act says—
The Minister told us that he had the opinion of the law advisers for saying that he was justified in establishing another outlay, namely, that he was entitled to provide money out of revenue for the reduction of interest-bearing capital. I venture, with all respect to the law advisers, to differ from them in that respect. I happen to know the reason for the putting in of these words—
It was to provide for the capital which had in the past, been contributed out of railway and harbour revenue, that interest shall not be paid on that, that these words were put in. I submit for the Minister’s consideration that where the outlay from revenue is so specifically laid down, he is not justified in assuming by implication from these words that they give him the right to spend money out of revenue simply for the reduction of capital. The Act provides for betterment, renewals and depreciation, and if the Minister adequately provides for these things, there is no other way, through expenditure of revenue, for the reduction of capital. It was not intended that that should be done. If the Minister thinks that he is not spending enough on depreciation, if he thinks that the amount he spends out of revenue is not enough to provide adequately for renewals and depreciation and betterment, let him spend money out of revenue on these things, but I object to this new little stocking which he has got. His business is to make the most adequate provision he can out of revenue for depreciation and betterment, and when he has done that he has got no right to spend any more of the revenues of the railway department for reduction of capital, and he is doing so at the expense of those people who use the railways in the inland parts of the country and who are clamouring for cheaper transport. I submit that this particular head in the estimates is wrong in law, and that it is bad finance.
I would like to press on the attention of the Minister very strongly the point which has been made by my hon. friend (Mr. Duncan). I am not going to argue it. It is really a fundamental point which has been raised by my hon. friend; it raises the whole policy of railway expansion and industrial expansion as laid down in that article in the South Africa Act. I rise, however, to draw the attention of the Minister to another point which I consider of very great importance, and this is the proper place to raise the point. It is the cost of maize transport from this country. We have a very large maize harvest this year, probably the largest we have had for many years or have ever had, and the transport of that harvest to the European markets will be a very considerable question. I notice from the press that the freight rate from the Argentine for maize to the European market is at present 11s. 6d., whereas from South Africa to London it is at least double that. It has been recently 25s., and it has come down to something less than that, but we may take it that the export freight rate for maize is still double what it is for the equal distance from Buenos Aires to London. The Argentine is our great competitor as a maize producer. The distances are equal, and I think it is a matter of very serious concern to the South African producer that he should, in comparison with the Argentine producer, lose about 1s. a bag on his maize. Whatever the Government can do to right that position, I think should be done. I think our public have a right to look to the Government to do whatever they can to right this position. I do not know how far the negotiations for the mail contract have gone, and I do not know whether the Government is actively dealing with this matter. We cannot, I imagine, go back to the good old times when a flat rate of 10s. a ton was fixed. I am afraid those days are gone, but 22s. to 25s., compared with half that rate from the Argentine, is, I submit, so great a difference that the South African public have a right to look to their Government for protection. I hope that my hon. friend and the Government generally will do whatever they can to deal with the situation, to protect the South African producer, and see that rates are given for our maize export which approximate more closely to the Argentine figure.
I am glad the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) has raised this question in the House. I have raised it on two occasions during the last month. His figures are not correct, if I may say so. People are chartering from Cape Town at 21s.
That is practically at double the freight.
It is the difference between 17s. and 21s. I am talking about a long ton.
I believe it is lower than 17s. on the River Plate.
Up-river loading to-day is 17s. There is a difference of 4s. We are much luckier than I thought we would be, because our rates have dropped from 27s. We are loading to-day in Cape Town at 21s.
There is a firm to-day charging 21s. for the round trip, and some of the ships are coming out here in water ballast. Still, I agree with the hon. member for Standerton, who has raised this question, we want lower rates. We want 200 ships to take the stuff away and the farmers of the Free State are worrying a good deal about it. We have still got a penalty of 8s. a ton as compared with our greatest competitor. I do not think the Argentine makes much difference to the price of maize, but our farmers are not getting the price they should get. Perhaps it is not a question of competition, but we are being penalized to a large extent by this difference of 8s. per ton.
I have sought an opportunity to discuss certain aspects of this report of the Departmental Workshops Commission, but on one occasion the request of the Minister prevented any further discussion on that subject, and on another the ruling of the Chairman of Committees prevented me from going into the question, so I hope that the House will bear with me if I raise a certain question on this report and deal with it as briefly as possible. I would like to discuss that aspect of the report which deals with the site of these railway workshops. Certain members have already discussed that question—the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), the hon. member for Pretoria (East) (Mr. Giovanetti) and the hon. member for Marico (Mr. J. J. Pienaar). The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) drew attention to the claims of Pretoria and Bloemfontein to have these workshops there, and I may say I agree to a great extent with what the hon. member said on that occasion. There is no doubt that this report is a very valuable one, but some of the conclusions, if the report is read analytically, are undoubtedly unreasonably based, and one of these conclusions which is unreasonably based, in my opinion, is the conclusion of the commissioners that these workshops should be placed either in the Cape Peninsula or in Northern Natal. In section 395 of their report the commission states—
Why the Cape Peninsula has been dragged into this report is beyond my comprehension, because the commissioners proceed to discuss the Cape Peninsula, and then in a few words they dismiss its claims.’ The report says—
The commissioners go on to say that Northern Natal is the most eligible place. Its finding is based chiefly on one governing factor, and that is that wages are as low in northern Natal as at the Cape. They forget that this question of wages is a shifting one. I first want to draw attention to a point which has been quite missed by the commission. While the wages in Bloemfontein and Pretoria are the highest in the Union the report omits to point out that the efficiency of these workshops is also the highest in the Union. There is another point of view with regard to the question of wages, and I am laying stress on this question because the commissioners base their whole report on the fact that where wages are lowest there the workshop ought to be. As I have already stated, it is undoubtedly a fact that wages are a question of shifting value. At present in the interior wages are higher than at the coast, but for one reason only, that is, because the cost of living is higher. In the near future, as industrial development takes place in the interior the cost of living will come down to the level of the cost at the ports. I think I have demonstrated that to lay all the stress on the question of wages is an unfair way of dealing with the subject. I want to refer the House to paragraphs 445 and 446 of the report, which have a direct bearing on this subject. They deal with the question of the increased utilisation of South African products by the railways. 445 states, “the value of South African products purchased by the South African Railways during the year ended the 31st March, 1924, was £1,589,279.” 446 goes on to give the items obtained for the mechanical department, including bricks and fireclay, coal, cement, coke, iron and steel, leather goods, lime, rope, rubber goods, stone and sand, timber, tin, lead, zinc, and tar. Consider these items in terms of Cape Town and Pretoria. Brick and fireclay they both produce. Coal, Pretoria is next door to the biggest supply in the Union. Cement, in Pretoria the Portland Cement Co produce practically all the cement used in the Union. To coke, the same argument applies as to coal. Take iron and steel. Undoubtedly, in spite of the efforts of the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel) to make us believe the contrary, Pretoria is going to be the centre of the iron and steel industry in this country in the near future. Everything points in that direction. For leather goods Cape Town and Pretoria are probably equal. Lime—we are on our lime beds. Tin, lead, zinc and tar—these particular products are produced in the Pretoria district. If one considers the comparison between Pretoria and Cape Town on these lines, it seems absurd for the commissioners to have left out Pretoria from its considerations, and even for a moment to have concluded that the workshop might be established at Cape Town. In paragraph 391 they say—
With the knowledge they had that in the near future Pretoria would be the centre of steel production they yet recommend the placing of this workshop either at Cape Town or in northern Natal. The object of my rising is to suggest to the Minister the advisability of hastening slowly in the decision he is going: to take on this question. Let us consider the expense that this scheme is going to be to the country. It is shown that if the scheme were adopted in the Cape Peninsula it would cost £2,880,000, plus the cost of foundations. Assuming the Government decides to put the workshops at some undefined spot in northern Natal, they must spend nearly five million pounds. In the next five years Pretoria is going to produce steel. They will have spent all this money and will find they are a long way from the source of steel and iron. Therefore, again I urge upon the Minister, in coming to a conclusion on this question, to consider it with great care, and not to hasten unduly in coming to his decision. It must always be remembered that Pretoria has all the natural advantages I have already specified; it is able to produce all those products necessary for the manufacture of railway goods. It has offered to the Government an unlimited quantity of land, and it has all the amenities which are required for the workmen. In Natal land will have to be purchased.
The report says so. If they come down to Cape Town they will have difficulty and big expense with the foundations, because the workshops will have to be built on reclaimed land. It passes my comprehension, therefore, why the commissioners should never have considered the claims of Pretoria. And finally, it seems to me with regard to northern Natal that the commissioners have been bluffed into recommending the building of workshops on the bare veld, so to speak, and to serve these workshops with a township costing close on £2,000,000. And about this bluff the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel) may know more about it than I do. I recommend to the Minister, before he comes to a decision, to think deeply on the subject, and to realize above everything else that within the next five years this problem of steel production is going to be solved once and for all, and it is highly probable that the solution will be found in Pretoria.
The hon. member who has just sat down (Mr. te Water) says he cannot understand the finding of the commission in regard to these workshops. He cannot understand why they should be in doubt. I will tell him why. It is because they know their business; they know what they are talking about, and the hon. gentleman does not. The most essential thing in establishing a workshop such as this is to have a healthy climate, and I venture to say that there is no more healthy climate in South Africa than in northern Natal. There is cheap land, unlimited water and a healthy climate. I think the commissioners have shown great wisdom in this connection, and I hope the Minister will take no notice of what the hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. te Water) has stated, and abide by the opinion of those who know something about the matter.
I hope the Minister, before coming to a conclusion in regard to the establishment of these workshops, will carry out a thorough investigation as to the most suitable site. That investigation has not been made by the commission. The hon. member, when he stated that the commission had recommended northern Natal or the Cape, because they knew their business, was wrong. The commission state definitely that they have not considered the other provinces in regard to this matter. They have not considered the claims of other provinces or the most suitable position for manufacturing railway requirements.
It has got to be central.
That is the grievance of those who live in the north. If the commissioners had gone thoroughly into the question, and decided that the Cape or Natal was the most suitable spot to carry out the work efficiently and well, I would have no complaint, as I do not believe in looking at things from the provincial point of view. I shall be satisfied as long as the most suitable position is decided upon. But when you find a commission stating that the most important factor in the choice of a site is the rate of wages and that it excludes from consideration all localities where higher rates are paid, I do not agree with them. We say that Government industries should not be established and built up on the basis of where the cheapest wages are paid. To establish the national life on the cheapest available labour would mean a poor lookout for South Africa. This statement of the commission’s in regard to wages should be sufficient to prevent the Minister coming to a decision until a thorough investigation has been made, and a decision should be come to irrespective of the wages paid.
From the remarks which have fallen from the hon. member for Pretoria (Central), one would think I was instrumental in getting the commission to report in favour of Natal.
I said you probably knew more about it than I.
I am going to leave the matter to the good sense of the Minister of Railways. It he allows economic factors to operate, then I say that the best site is in northern Natal. The eastern Transvaal, the northern lines, and the Free State railways all radiate into Natal, which is carrying 35 per cent. of the total traffic of the Union. That has to be considered. Then there is electric power, which is going to be the cheapest power in South Africa. We have unlimited supplies of coal throughout the northern districts of Natal, and many other advantages, and no doubt the commission, when considering the position, decided in favour of northern Natal because they considered it would be the most economic portion of the Union.
They never considered the other provinces.
They, at all events, considered the northern part of the province of Natal was the best site economically in which to establish these workshops. If you look at the traffic, you will find there is very little from the south to the north, it all goes to the ports. Naturally, hon. members want the workshops in their own constituencies, and I would say in regard to Newcastle that there we hope to produce pig iron in a few months, which no other part of South Africa has yet produced, and this municipality is prepared to give the railway free water and free land. I have no doubt that the Minister will consider the economic factors, and if he does so, northern Natal is going to be the place where the workshops will be established, if the best site is to be considered apart from political considerations.
In deciding upon the place where the workshops should be put, I think the Minister of Railways and Harbours should take Kimberley into earnest consideration. Workshops formerly existed at Kimberley, but the former Government simply took them away. One hon. member said there is no electricity power station, but De Beers or the railways themselves can easily provide that. From the iron mine at Postmasburg more iron can be obtained than ever could be got from the Transvaal and Natal and there is cheap labour in superabundance. There are more people there looking for work than in any other part. There are the diggers in the alluvial diggings, more than anxious to get into the service of the railways. The Minister has had enough applications from those parts to enter into the railway service. There is a site for the workshops where the old workshops were, and this can be extended, and Kimberley, I am sure, is willing to place as much ground as is necessary at the disposal of the administration. To a certain extent the workshops are still in existence there, certain things are still down there, and Kimberley is the place where the new workshops should be placed. Kimberley is more central than any place, as from there the lines go to the Cape and to the Transvaal and the Free State. With its diamonds, it has meant a great deal to South Africa, and has assisted in developing it. I hope and trust the Minister will not forget Kimberley when he comes to a decision in this matter.
I think this is a wrong time and place for hon. members to put forward the claims of their constituencies. I think the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) struck the right note, and I second him in his view, that the Minister should consider only the suitableness of the site. Hon. members putting forward the claims of their constituencies should consider that they might later on represent a different constituency and might then appeal for the workshops to be moved. What the Minister has to consider is the most suitable site from the point of view of the railway requirements. I agree with the hon. member for Brakpan that the decision must not rest upon the matter of low wages. That would be bad policy. Low wages is a state of affairs that is not going to last long. If you establish the workshops in Cape Town or northern Natal, how long will the low wages last? The industry in time will be able to demand higher wages. As pointed out by the hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. te Water), the wages would be a shifting thing, and always tending to rise. Developments in all countries show that. People are tending to claim a higher standard of civilization and the Minister is going in that direction by insisting on civilized conditions on the railways. The workshops should be centraly situated, having regard to the origin of your raw materials and of distribution after they are built. I want to enter a word of protest against the point of view of placing the workshop near the coast, because you are going to import certain portions of your raw material. My object, and I think it should be that of all hon. members, is that we should aim at producing all the materials required in South Africa. There is not an article being used in the manufacture of railway material that we cannot produce in South Africa. Take wood. No doubt it will take some time before we can produce all the teak we require; but if you start now with the idea that you are going to produce all the teak you require for coach building, you will grow it, and you cannot grow teak in Cape Town. I think it would be difficult to grow it in Newcastle; but you can grow it in other parts of the country. The main requirements are iron, coal and copper.
Then you want to go to Middelburg.
There my hon. friend sees a ray of light. It may be that the Minister may decide on Middelburg, and if so, we shall have to acquiesce, but in that case the Minister will have departed from the advice of his board. He will have totally ignored the advice of the commission that you have to build the workshops where you pay the least wages—a most damaging and dangerous thing to the economic life of South Africa. I hope the Minister will place no reliance on that portion of the report; in fact, I think it just as well to burn the report and start again, bearing in mind what the commission said, but taking no notice of it. I support the recommendation of the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) to view this matter nationally.
I want to correct the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), The “Cape Times” of July 17th gave the quotations for charters for maize from South American ports. To European ports the quotation from Bahia Blanca to any port in Europe was 11s. 6d. a ton; to Antwerp or Hamburg 11s. a ton, and to the United Kingdom 10s. 6d. a ton.
Is that a long ton?
I presume so. With regard to the workshops, I hope the Minister will take a long time to consider the matter, and I trust that he will study paragraphs 350 to 357 of the departmental commission’s report. I read it that the commission came to the conclusion that to manufacture rolling stock in this country would cost about a million more. The commission was not asked to consider the question whether it was desirable to manufacture in this country or not, but the commission shows that a lot of articles required by the department are exceedingly costly. I take it that the implication from Clause 354 is that it would cost an additional million per annum, if we are going to manufacture our rolling stock here. When the late Government was in office the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) saw a large manufacturer in England as to the possibility of his firm starting workshops in South Africa. The firm in question—Vickers—sent a director out, and he went all over the country, and he arrived at the conclusion that if workshops were to be started they must be located in northern Natal, somewhere about Elands Laagte.
When was that?
Did they know about the Pretoria iron?
Why did they recommend northern Natal?
They arrived at the conclusion on purely business lines. However, this firm said they could not see their way to establish works here without a guarantee from the Government, as the proposition was not a paying one. The Government did not see its way to give a guarantee and the matter dropped.
Is there a likelihood of a remission of rates being granted at an early date? I ask on behalf of the agriculturists who have to send their produce long distances. In the interests of production the railway rates should be kept as low as possible, although we are grateful for the reductions already made. There is an abundance of traffic at the present time, and that is a time when rates should be reduced, but the expenditure has been going up. I know the Minister has a difficult task to deal with all the applicants for employment in the railway services. The Minister of Agriculture the other day, with much glee and gusto, proclaimed that the railway department had given employment to 9.000 more men. That is all right if they are all required, but if he employs more men than he needs he cannot give us cheaper railway rates. I don’t want to see a single man less employed than the service requires, but I don’t wish to see more men employed than are absolutely necessary, as that will react on the railways. If that is done there will be increased railway rates and a curtailment of benefits to the employees, and with higher rates there will be decreased traffic and less production. The way to give more employment is to have cheaper rates and thus more people will be engaged in agricultural production.
I fully realize the necessity of lower rates if a reduction is possible. But the hon. member for Worcester (Mr. Heatlie) must recognize that the railway estimates show a deficit, and in view of that I am not prepared at the present time, to reduce rates further. If, during the course of the year, our revenue increases and we can save on our expenditure, I shall certainly reduce rates further, but I do not think the time has yet come for a further reduction. In January last very substantial reductions were made, inter alia, on agricultural produce; and when the time comes I shall be prepared to reduce them further. As to the location of the suggested new railway workshops, I appreciate the point of view of hon. members who, as long as constituents exist are bound to raise this question in order to satisfy those constituents who are clamouring for more. I don’t want to deal with the whole position, except to clear up one point. I am sorry that hon. members on the cross benches have said that the commission has been influenced by the question of cheap labour. Hon. members have read the report wrongly on that point. There is no difference between the basic rate of pay received by artizans at Pretoria or Salt River.
Business suspended at 12.45 p.m. and resumed at 2.20 p.m.
When the House adjourned I dealt with the point of the hon. members on the cross benches that the commission had said that the Transvaal or the Free State was not suitable for the establishment of the new workshop, because the wages there are higher than at the Cape. The artizans are getting the same basic rate, under the old conditions 20s. and under the new 18s., and the only difference is the cost of living allowance. His argument, I submit with respect to my hon. friend, does not hold water.
It is the commission’s own words.
If my hon. friends read that into the report, I submit they have read the report wrongly. The matter is still under consideration and no decision has been come to. The Government when carrying out the policy will take all the factors in connection with the position into consideration. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) has raised the question of the contribution of £250,000 towards the reduction of debt. He raised two points. He submitted in the first place that the payment was illegal. He said that in his opinion the Administration had no right to make the payment. I can only say the matter has been fully considered by the law advisers. They have come to the conclusion under section 127 of the South Africa Act that we are entitled to make the payment. I had intended seeking legislative authority on this point, because I do not want to shirk coming to Parliament in the matter, but I am acting on the advice of the law advisers. Then on the point of advisability, he takes exception. On that we must agree to differ. Our capital expenditure, increasing year after year, must be checked. We are a young country and cannot check development. We must continue to spend money on capital expenditure. That being so, I ask the hon. member whether the time has not come to consider whether the burden of interest on the users of the railways is not becoming too great. The public, living in the inland provinces, have as much concern in this matter as the man living at the coast.
You are paying £13,000,000 more now than you should pay, because you have not got a sinking fund.
I do not remember my hon. friend giving any assistance on that matter in the past. The question of the £13,000,000 has been disposed of and that question should not be re-opened. I don’t propose re-opening it, because I think it belongs to past history. I am now endeavouring to improve the position by making a contribution from revenue to relieve the users of the railways, and the hon. member criticizes me. I would like to know if he is speaking for himself or his party.
I am speaking for myself.
Section 128 says that we could establish a rates equalization fund. We have not done it.
You can do it next year.
We will wait and see. The right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) has raised a most important point, and I want to say I am very pleased indeed and grateful to him for raising this question. I think what he said will be endorsed by everybody in the country. This question of the freight charges charged by the conference lines for the conveyance of maize overseas is one of the greatest importance. Let me give the House the actual position at the present time. The conference lines are charging shippers 25s. per short ton which means 27s. 6d. per long ton, with the proviso in the existing mail contract that it is provided that the rate for maize at the regular berth ports of discharge is not to exceed the average rate for whole cargoes for chartered steamers for the preceding three months, at more than 5s. a ton and the rate shall be subject to revision every three months. Let me give the American rate to which the hon. member has referred. The latest figure I have is a shipment by the S.S Chiniston from San Lorenco 7,000 tons for July loading at 12s. 6d. per long ton. The information I have is that loading from South America for Argentine maize is 12s. to 13s. 6d. per long ton. In fairness to the conference lines I must say there is a difference. The ships go loaded and bring back maize. In South Africa the position is different. Under the terms of the mail contract the cargo boats and tramp steamers have to come in ballast, because there is no forward cargo to South Africa. It is only fair that I should say this. The position outside the conference lines is this. In June for August loadings they quoted 20s. 6d. per long ton. The ruling prices now are 21s. 6d. and 22s. 6d. In other words there has been a tendency to harden rates since June. Undoubtedly? one reason why the rates of the outside tramp steamers have hardened is because the conference lines have taken the position that as far as the end of July is concerned they are going to maintain the 25s. per short ton rate. This question of the export of our maize from South Africa is one which the Government views with the greatest concern. We hope this year to be able to ship oversea, at a conservative estimate, 10,000,000 bags. We have been taking every step possible in order to safeguard the interests of the shippers. Speaking with a due sense of responsibility, in view of the negotiations which are pending with the Union-Castle Co., I wish to say that the Government is very much disappointed with the fact that the conference lines have not yet reduced their rate for maize. They are in this fortunate position, that they carry cargo to South Africa. As far as Government cargo is concerned, under the terms of the existing mail contract they carry all our cargo. In coming to South Africa they have loads. I do not say full loads, but they certainly have loads, including the Government cargo, and under the circumstances it is a matter of profound disappointment to the Government that the conference lines have not reduced their rates. There can be no question that as a result of the conference lines refusing to reduce their rates, outside tramp steamers have hardened their rates. I have no hesitation in saying that there is very good reason why the conference lines should lower their rates for maize. The present rate for maize is too high and the Government, the people and the maize shippers of South Africa have a right to ask for a very substantial reduction from the conference lines, and I hope that this will be given. I trust that the conference lines will realize that, having been connected with South Africa for many years, having done business with this country, and helped in the extension of industry, I say that we have a right to ask them to make a very substantial reduction on the present rate.
What do you call a substantial reduction?
I don’t want to give any actual figure, but I think that the rate charged at the present time by tramp steamers coming to South Africa in balast, and taking a full cargo, ought to be some indication to the conference lines as to what the rate is which they should charge to South African shippers.
Why don’t you charter boats of your own?
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into committee now.
House in Committee:
On Clause 1,
I would like to say a few words on the point referred to by the Minister. I think the Government will have to be very careful about the way they go to work in regard to this question of the rates of freight on maize, otherwise they will make a mess of it. You cannot expect to convey all this maize from South Africa in the mail steamers.
I know that.
If you are going to do a big business here in maize, you have got to have chartered boats. Let the tramp steamers come along. My suggestion to the Minister is don’t depend so much upon the mail steamers, because they have other cargo to carry. They have any amount of fruit to carry just now and there is other cargo, and they have always got to sail on regular dates, and are expensive to run. If you want to develop this maize trade in this country, in my opinion, you have got to encourage the tramp steamer to come here. An hon. member said some little time since that 200 steamers would be required. I think he rather exaggerates. You should encourage the tramp steamers to come here, but don’t encourage the shippers to hang on to the Government. Why can’t they make their own arrangements? There is one firm, perhaps the largest shippers of grain in the world, they can get their own ships. Why can’t other shippers do the same? As a matter of fact the shipping trade, especially the tramp steamer trade, is in just about as bad a position now as it has been for years. I am perfectly certain that, if these men would show some enterprise and so forth, they would get just as many steamers as they want. They cannot, perhaps, get them at as cheap rates as the Argentine, for the very reason mentioned by the Minister, that these ships carry an outward cargo to the Argentine and most of them have got to come out here in ballast. In this connection I may just remark that when a tramp steamer comes here with a cargo of super-phosphates you promptly clap on a heavy freight dumping duty. I do not want the Government to go interfering much in these matters, because in my opinion the shipping trade is without doubt one of the most difficult trades to handle, and if the Government go and put their oar in too much they will lose a lot of money, but they can do much in collecting information and spreading information and getting as many tramp steamers as possible to come along.
I agree with tile hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) on this question, but I would go further and urge that the Government should charter boats. There are 400 ships in the River Plate to-day lying empty, but let us even take it that there are only 200. Those ships could be well employed in carrying our maize overseas. The Minister is not correct when he says that numbers of these boats go over to the Argentine carrying cargo. Numbers of them to-day go to the River Plate in ballast. We have been told that the figures given by the “Cape Times” are incorrect, and that the figures given by myself are incorrect. I have made enquiries and I know that one of the biggest shippers in the world has just shipped from the Argentine at 17s.
You are wrong there. I made enquiries also during the lunch hour and the rate is as my right hon. friend (Gen. Smuts) said, 11s.
I don’t think we need worry much about the Argentine. You should get the ships out here at once and charter them. Why is the Government afraid of chartering ships.
Because they have had the experience of flour.
I think if we could get our stuff away at 20s. per ton we should be lucky. The price of maize is not going down. The Argentine crop has not been a success this year. What I am afraid of is that we shall not have the ships, and I would ask the Government to see if they cannot telegraph over to the Argentine and tell them what is going on in this part of the world. Cut the conference lines out altogether and attract these Greek tramps. I know that they pay a small rate of wages; bring them out here and charter your own boats. We cannot regulate the rate of wages, and my friends on the other side cannot regulate the rate of wages, but if we can get these Greek tramps to come out here, why not get them? If they don’t get our trade, they will get somebody else’s. Try and charter two or three boats, and then you will see the rates go down.
When I introduced the motion last year for the acquisition of our own fleet, I ventured to predict just precisely the situation you are getting to-day, and it is very pleasing indeed to find that the force of circumstances is making even the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) veer round somewhat to our way of thinking.
No, he isn’t.
No, it is not. We who are looking at it, can see it. There is a strong suspicion in my mind that if the hon. member keeps on long enough, we shall find him in, time seriously advocating the same point of view as I have been advocating. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) has been pointing out the belief—which I believe to be true—that you have held up in various parts of the world a very large number of ships indeed. I think, and I believe I am correct in saying, that that is a largely engineered quietude on the part of ships. The ways of shipowners and ship controllers are very devious. It is a most remarkable thing that whenever you see the necessity of Government intervention in the matter of shipping you will find tucked away in a corner of the newspaper some observations upon the failure of State shipping enterprise in some parts of the world. It is entirely untrue. The instances they have advanced are instances of non-State shipping. With the exception of Australia, in no case have they advanced an example of real State shipping. You have State subsidies; you have the French doing something; you have the Canadian Government doing something, which is not State shipping at all. Then we get the press proving to their own satisfaction that State shipping has proved a financial failure. The point is this, that once again you see the press drawing attention to its supposed failure. Why? Because the very circumstances my friends and myself have predicted have come to pass, namely, that you are faced with a tremendous maize crop.
I will have to speak very loud indeed to impinge upon the mentality of my hon. friend. We are faced with this overproduction. The whole problem is how are you going to get it to the markets. My hon. friend his indicated a way, and I am rather inclined to support that view. You cannot build up a State fleet in five minutes. What I do want to build up is the will on the part of the Minister to believe that the time has arrived for us to get our own ships. I want him to get that impression upon his mind, and so begin to build up what we so obviously need in this country, that 1s. control our own shipping. Let us charter our ships. The probability is we are going from strength to strength; we are going to increase our products, not only maize, but various other things. The problem of transporting our crops is going to become more and more intricate as the years go by. The man who lays it down that we shall only continue in the good old times and in the good old methods is a very foolish man indeed. I want to impress upon the Minister the advisability of having new methods, of coming up to date. Our national life lies not so much in the products, although they are important, as in the distribution of the products. I am satisfied that the Minister will find it to the advantage of the country as a whole to have our own fleet. Why should we, from year to year, be dependent upon the good grace of your Conference Line, or any other line of steamers’ The Minister will be very unwise if he is not influenced by the signs of the times; and I do appeal to him to realize that the whole future of this country is bound up in the easy transport of our goods.
I would also like to support the point of view of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) and more particularly that of the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley). Only a few hours ago you performed an act of state socialism. You have just decided to spend £1,100,000 to buy the Cape Central Railway, and thus the House has decided to a still greater extent to pursue the policy of State enterprise. It is only logical, if you accept that position, if it is right that the internal transportation of the country should be in the hands of the State, then it is equally right, it is a logical conclusion, that the external transportation should also be in the hands of the State. I want to put to the Minister of Railways and Harbours what I put to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs the other day in regard to the experience of the Canadian Government. According to Mr. Preston’s report to the Canadian Government, the present Union Government, when it came into office, started to negotiate with an independent steamship company, with the result that a ring immediately acquired that independent line. I put that question to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, but I got no reply. I hope the Minister of Railways and Harbours will show more interest in State shipping than is now being shown by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, and that he will tell us whether that is the actual position, and whether it does not show that it is imperative for a State to acquire its own service. I hope the Minister will give this matter his attention, and I hope that what the hon. member for Benoni has said will have influenced the Government to such an extent as to enable them to state definitely whether they are going to give serious attention to this matter.
I hope the Minister will be able to reassure the fruit growers as to the provision which is being made to ship their produce in the future. We see it stated, and there is no reason to doubt its correctness, that we shall have before long five million, cases of Citrus alone to export annually. The expectation is that not long after that that number will have been even doubled. That means that a good deal of forethought must be exercised if that produce is to be safely transported to the other side. When hon. members realize that, five million cases of citrus represent 300,000 tons of shipping, it will be seen that we have to take time by the forelock in this matter and make corresponding arrangements. There hundred thousand tons is a great deal, and when we realize the amount of special accommodation which is involved, it will be seen that the matter is one of very great importance. The suggestion that tramps could be used for this particular trade is not a possible solution. They are not fitted for this particular kind of transport which involves cold chambers or ventilated holds. It will be a sad day indeed if the fruit growers, more especially the citrus growers, who have to wait six years for a profitable return, find that through want of proper arrangements the market is not open to them, and the stuff is on their hands. I would ask the Minister if the time has not arrived to re consider the rates on mealies. I do not say that there should necessarily be a flat rate for the whole country. I would prefer a zone rate, so that people might take advantage of their natural geographical positions and not be charged the same rate if they are near the coast as those who are several hundred or even a thousand miles distant. I hope one of the means of providing for this great export of fruit will not be by Government-owned steamers. In spite of the advocacy urged by hon. members. I am sure it will prove as disastrous in this country as elsewhere. We all know the result of the Australian experiment, and it may be useful to quote the result of the experiment made by the United States. They are supposed to be good hard-headed business men there, and they thought it might be good to continue State owned shipping after the war. By June, 1921, we find that the monthly working deficit—the difference between actual receipts and payments for working expenses—amounted to an average of £4,000,000 per month, and the total loss to the taxpayer for the year varied between £100,000,000 and £150.000,000 sterling. President Coolidge, in a message to Congress, dealt with that question and hon. members can refer to that message for further particulars. So the position in front of us is very important, and I hope the Minister will be able to make a statement fully re-assuring fruit growers that when their orchards are in full production, the necessary means of transport overseas will be available.
In regard to the point dealt with by the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron), for the abolition of the flat rate, and the substitution of a zone rate for the conveyance of maize, I do not think the time has come for the abolition of the flat rate. When the maize growers have had opportunity of recovering some of the losses in the past, we might make that change, but for the present no change is proposed. Then the hon. member raised the very important question of the export of our fruit, both deciduous and citrus; hut more particularly the latter. The forecast he gave is correct. Unless something unforeseen happens, the position is as stated. I have had discussions with the Fruit Control Board about this matter. It seems clear that what we will have to come to in regard to the export of citrus fruit, and possibly also deciduous, is that the interests concerned will have to charter boats for carrying full loads from South Africa overseas, and I do not agree with the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that we must not depend so much upon mail boats
That was in regard to maize.
The Union-Castle Company and the Australian lines have met us as far as they possibly could. I know the Union-Castle Company are taking steps to increase their refrigerated space, as they realize that our export is growing very much; and even so we will have to come to the position, that growers interested will have to make provision for the carriage of part of our fruit in full cargo loads, in chartered steamers. I think that is going to be the solution, unless we are going in for a State fleet, which the government has no intention of doing at present. I repeat to the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) and other hon. members, that while the Government will not allow the people of South Africa to be bled white by the conference lines or any other combination of shipping companies, at the same time we must go slowly in regard to the extension of a State fleet. The hon. member will remember that in the estimates provision is made for the purchase of two additional steamships, so that we are slowly progressing. Hon. members must be patient. The Government has the matter under full consideration. In regard to the report referred to by the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge), I may assure him that the shipping department of the railways is taking full note of what is going on in other parts of the world as regards shipping.
You are keeping your eye on the situation.
I am not prepared to go further in this matter. Hon. members may accuse me of keeping an eye on the position and going slowly, but this is a big matter, and I think no Government would be justified in going into this matter without the very fullest consideration.
What is the position in regard to the cold storage at the docks?
As I indicated to the House previously, we are now carrying out half the scheme. We have asked for money on the estimates to do this, but we have all our plans ready to carry on the remaining portion of the scheme on the east pier. We are constructing the necessary facilities, and as soon as we are certain that the fruit will be there, we intend converting the other half section of the east pier, which is at present being used for goods, into an additional cool shed. All the indications are that the shed will be finished by December, so that the fruit growers will have the benefit of the new quayside accommodation for next season’s deciduous crop. With further reference to the maize rate, unfortunately I was not able to follow the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) on all points, and if I am wrong I hope he will correct me. I understood him to say that we should not depend so much on the mail steamers, in regard to the export of our maize.
They cannot carry it.
I agree, but I hope he will also agree with me that the Government, the country, and this House has a right to ask from the conference lines that, having done business with South Africa for so many years—
They have done well for themselves; but they have also done well for this country, and I think we have a right to ask the conference lines, in quoting for an export rate for maize, to give us the very lowest rate possible. I think the hon. member will agree with me; because it is such a great element in the whole position. The conference lines are in a favourable position to carry return cargoes for the Government from England, and we have a right to ask them to give the lowest possible rates; because the rate charged by them influences other shippers. I also agree with the hon. member that we should give our full attention to encourage tramp steamers to come to South Africa: but at the same time we have a right to say to the conference lines that, having been connected with South Africa for so many years, they should give us the lowest possible rate, which should be an indication of the real rate from South Africa. In regard to the point raised by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), the Government are not prepared to charter boats. How can we? The produce does not belong to us. It belongs to the shippers, and while the Government will give every assistance possible to the shippers to get into touch with outside shipping companies, at the same time we do not propose to charter. I would ask the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) to consider the position, if the Government chartered a boat. When the boat came here the producers and shippers might not be prepared to ship by that boat, and what would be the position? The Government is not going to act so rashly. We are going to assist the producers and shippers as much as possible, with advice and in other ways. I agree that the eyes of the shipping companies who own tramp steamers have not been directed sufficiently to South Africa, and undoubtedly with a big maize crop this year, the position will be changed, and I am hoping we will have a regular flow of tramp steamers, which will help the position here.
If the hon. member looks at the tariff, he will find that there is an extremely heavy increased duty on imported bacon. I understood the idea was to encourage a greater supply of the locally grown article, as well as encouraging the export from South Africa eventually. If the hon. member wishes to do that in the Western Province, will he not consider the advisability of diminishing the local rate on maze? I am anxious to see that every possible market overseas is got for the maize that cannot be profitably used in this country. By reducing the local rate, it would increase the use of maize locally throughout the country. The Western Province is a district where the bacon industry can be very considerably devéloped. We have a certain amount of acorns and barley, but we are very largely dependent on maize as one of the by food products in connection with the bacon industry. I think the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) when he was Minister of Railways, had representations made to him on the subject and the rate was reduced. I hope the present Minister will give the committee some assurance that that is one of the questions he will go into. It would be more profitable to increase the use of our maize in this country for the feed ING of animals, than to ship it to an overseas market, because the bigger the market the better the price the maize growers will get.
I gather that the Minister is inclined to throw the responsibility for the provision of shipping on the Fruit Growers’ Exchange; but I am not altogether happy about the railway situation, for which, of course, he is directly responsible. He agrees with me that in a short time—I believe the period has been fixed at three years from now—we will have five million cases to handle. That will take 10,000 railway truck loads, and the estimate which, of course, cannot be verified at the moment, is that in eight years from now we shall have at least 10 million cases to handle, representing 20,000 truck loads of fruit. In 10 years there will be perhaps 14,000,000 cases of citrus, representing 28,000 truck loads. The trouble is that three-quarters of the trade is compressed within seven or eight weeks, so the difficulty is very great, and will become greater unless much forethought is exercised. English railway statistics show that out of 100 hours in the life of a truck it is resting for 97 hours. It is loaded and standing idle for 2½ hours, and it is only really carrying goods half-an-hour out of 100 hours. I believe some similar statistics were kept by the old Cape Government railways. There seems to be some margin for a greater utilization of our rolling stock. It is very advisable that immediate provision should be made for building rolling stock in our own country. I am perfectly certain it would be economical to do so. These are very serious and important matters, and it will be too late to talk about them when the rush of traffic is on us.
I am certainly prepared to go into the question raised by the right hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), and I think we might meet the growers and consumers of maize by giving a lower rate for full truck loads, but I don’t want to commit myself. I don’t know that I would be able to quote a lower rate for bags separately. With regard to the remarks of the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron), I fully realize the necessity for making the very best use of our trucks. About a month ago the general manager issued a circular asking the staff to make fuller use of the trucks. We have on order, I believe, about 200 fruit trucks. As the fruit traffic increases so we will make further provision for it.
The people I had in mind were those who deal with smaller quantities of maize than a truck load. I was not thinking of a man who wants 60 or 80 bags of maize, but 20 bags. The maize, if it is bagged, is easily handled and need not be carried in a separate truck. Both the bacon and dairy industries, which are associated, are interested in this question, and if encouraged there is a possibility of developing an industry of that character in the Western Province. Wherever possible food products, like maize, should be used for feeding our own animals instead of being exported, for by the latter method you get no fertilizer and by degrees the quality of the soil is impoverished.
When I was in office we ordered steel trucks to carry maize, but I hear that they have not turned out satisfactorily. I would like to emphasize what has been said about the rate for maize. It is somewhat strange, although I have been a party to it myself, that we carry maize at 10s. for export purposes, but charge our own consumers 20s. Why should we specially favour the export trade? There is undoubtedly an increasing demand for maize in South Africa. A truck load is all right for a storekeeper, but it is no use for the small farmer.
I ventured to express the hope that the Minister of Railways would show a livelier interest in the question of State shipping than that manifested by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, but I have been disappointed, for his reply will be received with the utmost approbation by the shipping combine. The Minister agrees with what has fallen from all sides of the House that it will be necessary to provide greater transport facilities in the immediate future. He says we have the right to ask the conference people for better treatment. I am afraid there will be no improvement unless the Government says: “We are going to act and not to ask.” That is the way to get better terms and more accommodation. I have not yet had a reply to my question. Mr. W. T. R. Preston, who was appointed by the Canadian Government to enquire into the North Atlantic steamship combine, in the course of his report to the Canadian Minister of Trade and Commerce, says—
Mr. Preston apparently has information which has not been vouchsafed to this House. We are entitled to get our information from the Minister, and not to have to look for it in Canadian blue books. The Minister says he will keep his eye on the position—a phrase which was also used the other day by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. Mr. Burton will be very proud to learn that the Minister has adopted his policy of keeping an eye on the position, but that policy is no good. The Minister, as the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs said some years ago when he was sitting on these benches, should—
The hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) in his relationship to the Minister is in exactly the same position as the Minister is with the conference line. The hon. member struts about, and blows out his chest and says—
I, as representing South Africa, have the right to ask you to play the game by South Africa.
The conference line reply by saying—
So much for your rights. The Minister’s statement was undoubtedly very reassuring. Now we know that the Minister is alive to the fact that if we have not the ships we cannot carry the stuff. What the fruit and maize growers would be delighted to know would be what is the Minister going to do about it. It is all very well to say we have a right to ask them. My hon. friend says any little tin-pot grower has a right to go to the conference lines and say: “Carry my stuff at the lowest possible rate,” but he will be in exactly the same position as the Minister of Railways. The man who is producing wants to know how he is going to get his stuff away. He has a right to ask. I can visualize Gulliver going into Lilliput and the little Lilliputians puffing out their stomachs at him. That is the position the Minister of Railways is in. He talks about his realization of the position and says—
and then he fails to do it. Of course he fails. It is no good going to the conference line. It has been done before. I remember them deciding to put up the coastwise trade 25 per cent., and the then Minister of Finance came to the House and stated that having made representations to the conference lines he had succeeded in persuading them—what do you think. To postpone the application of the 25 per cent. increase another week. That is precisely the position the Minister will find himself in unless he is prepared to take action himself. That is the only cure, the only key to the situation. It is no good these other members talking, members who are sitting with their heads in the clouds, their bodies in the past, and their souls nowhere. He urged himself that action should be taken by the State. My hon. friend read a report of Mr. Preston, anent that circumstance when the Union Government of South Africa was negotiating—a Government negotiating with a private firm—and when he let out who they were negotiating with, the conference lines, they immediately absorbed it in a week, and the puny Minister—and he will forgive me, but I only speak of the effect of his powers—will find himself in the same position when he lakes action, unless he brings the whole resources of the State into the battle on behalf of the people of the State. It cannot be done by negotiation, by appeal, or by the right to ask, for these people are soulless people, out to get the world in their grip; it is power they are after, and we have to resist it by our national power, and the only way the Minister can do it is to take his stand on the pedestal of State and use the power of the State.
I am surprised that not a single maize grower has got up to help to fight this battle, but that they have left it to the cross-benchers. Never mind, we can carry on. It is only by talking to the Minister that we can hope to get things right. The Minister tells us he is keeping his eye on the situation and, at the same time, he says the rates are hardening. That is no use. The South African party did that. Mr. Burton said that. The only way to tackle the matter is according to the programme of the Labour party and the Nationalist party, and that is to charter ships and go in for State shipping. I hope the Minister will take his courage in both hands and charter ships. He says: “Fancy the Government chartering ships and bringing them here when there is nothing to fill them with.” This is a wise Government, surely, and they will know if they have got the freight before bringing the ships. If they went to the co-operative societies and said that" we were bringing certain ships to Cape Town next week, those societies would fill the ships. I want the farmers to get up and help us. We are not making an attack on the Government. We want them to help us. The Minister must tackle this question, and he will have the whole of the Labour party behind him, more than half of Parliament, and the whole of the country. If he charters ships to-day the Conference Lines will come to him and bend the knee. I ask the Government to help us with this, and I ask Parliament to help us to make the Government go out and charter ships. If it goes out to the world that South Africa has chartered ships, then 400 ships will come over here. If not the maize growers are going to suffer. That is the policy for South Africa to adopt. We do not want to go back to the weak policy of the South African party. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) has been cheering the Minister all afternoon. Naturally, because that is his own policy, and we want to fight that policy, and the only way is for the Government to take a hand. Not only did I pledge it, but the Nationalists of the Transvaal pledged it. That is why we are putting up this rather feeble “attack.” If the Minister will only do it, they will rid South Africa once for all of this ring. I hope he will do it, and not take up the position of “keeping his eye” on the situation, otherwise he will be blind before anything is done. You must put your foot on these people before something will be done.
I want to refer to the question of the use of steel trucks. Up to the present we have been so pressed that steel trucks have only been used for the conveyance of coal, and even then there is a shortage. There will, as far as I am aware, be no difficulty when we can release the steel trucks for the conveyance of maize in bulk.
Clause put and agreed to.
Remaining clauses put and agreed to.
On the First Schedule,
I missed an opportunity earlier when the railway estimates were under consideration to bring to the Minister’s notice a question with regard to the white labourers employed on the maintenance of the permanent way. I brought the question up last session. The Minister has done a great deal for railway employees this session, but I feel that this particular element of workers is not going to profit to any great extent by what has been done. These were the people who broke the ice and attacked the prejudice against this work being done by other than kaffirs. Many of them came in when they were about the middle of life and are now getting on in years. They are now beginning to wonder what it is going to end up in. If work of this nature is to be taken up with success, it must have with it an element of hope. There is no hope if there is no provision for old age. They are a good class of men who were forced into this work because the economic circumstances were so adverse that numerous people fitted for a higher position in life, had to undertake the work, and having undertaken the work they find openings in other lines barred, because of the courage they showed at a time when there was a distinct prejudice against them. I have in mind a Dutchman who had an education up to the seventh standard, and he came in on the work in 1912. He was recognized as an efficient man, and is sent out to do relief work when the gangers go on holiday, but he never gets a chance of being put on the line as a ganger himself. There are numerous such bars to the exercise of patience or perseverance on the part of these men. I want to say that by individuals getting up in the House and voicing these matters, not much is going to be done. If State shipping and similar important things don’t meet with more success than they have done this afternoon, then a matter like this will be looked upon as a minor matter. The unions are not very vociferous in advocating the rights of these people. I am perfectly certain there is no more deserving class of servants in the employ of the administration. I would suggest to the Minister that, being, as he is, the controlling power in the biggest industry in this country, he should adopt measures which are being adopted in large industries elsewhere, and go in for a policy of appointing welfare officers. If a welfare officer were appointed for each province in this country who was intimately acquainted with the working of the railways, not only the staff working, but the practical working outside, and these four officers were to form a board which would meet periodically and coordinate the welfare work of the four provinces, this body could then go and have the ear of the Minister, the general manager and the higher grades of the staff and employees would not be continually beating the air when they voiced their complaints. As we are going on today, we are going to make things good for those for whom they are already somewhat good, and things are going to get worse for those for whom they are now intolerable. I am certain that if the Minister could see his way to adopt some such scheme, he would get it back 100 per cent. in efficiency and contentment amongst his servants. There are 80,000 employees in the service of the administration, and if you expended on this scheme a matter of 5s. per head per annum, you would have a substantial sum at your disposal for this purpose and the expenditure would. I am convinced, be far more than justified.
The point raised by the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen) undoubtedly is a very important one, namely, that the Europeans employed as labourers should be certain of reasonable opportunities to improve their position, and I am in cordial agreement with him that these European labourers should have every facility given to them to improve their position. I may say that just lately it has been decided to grant the European labourers free schooling facilities. They will receive free primary education up to Standard VII. These men also have the opportunity of improving their position by being promoted to the grade of gangers, porters and various other grades in the service. The question as to whether it is desirable to appoint welfare officers seems to me to be one that is rather open to question. The policy I have endeavoured to impress upon the senior officials is this, that they should treat these men with the greatest sympathy and promote them whenever an opportunity occurs and it seems to me there is just a danger in the appointment of welfare officers that this personal responsibility which each official ought to feel towards these men may be relaxed. The hon. member (Mr. Allen) will remember, that a staff and labour inspector has been appointed and the employees are free to bring their grievances to the notice of their officers. We want to encourage these men, treat them sympathetically and in that way help them to improve their present position. I am not satisfied at present that the appointment of welfare officers would attain the object the hon. member has in mind, but I will give the matter further consideration.
I do not want to prolong this discussion, because I know the Minister is anxious to get his Bill through, but the point he referred to was the very point that struck me. If the officials in the various offices of the department are to become receptacles for the individual grievances of the men, then as far as I can see, their ordinary official duties must be very substantially interfered with, and it was with a view of relieving those officials of that responsibility that I made the suggestion. I believe that an official who is working for efficiency cannot divide his time and attention between securing maximum efficiency on one hand and playing the game of humanity on the other hand. They are two different things. The officer that the Minister has referred to has an enormous field to cover. From experience of the work of the Retrenchment Commission which travelled through the Transvaal under the instructions of the Minister’s predecessor and the way in which they did their work, I have not very much reliance in any movement which takes place from the head office, which has its impetus from the head office, to go out and see what are the drawbacks and grievances of this particular class. There are numerous cases in the Transvaal where you have men of forty-seven to fifty years of age who have been working for a number of years doing this heavy manual labour, while on the same station where these men are working you have big healthy kafirs employed on the platforms as porters and doing other light work which might be suitably undertaken by these men who are now getting past the stage of physical ability to carry on the heavy labour which they have been doing for some years past.
Schedules and titles put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment and read a third time.
Fifth Order read: House to go into Committee on the Customs Tariff and Excise Duties Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:
On clause 1.
During the discussion on the details of the tariff I drew the Minister’s attention to item 328, glycerine distilled, on which the duty is 25 per cent. I also drew his attention to item 345 in which distilled glycerine in bulk is free if brought in for the manufacture of explosives. I pointed out that there were other manufactures in this country, for instance chemistry and tobacco, where people required this glycerine, as well as the manufacturers of dynamite. Then he said that if it was required for other manufactures they could have it. I see on page 8, clause 12, subsection (k) he has made provision—
I referred my friend requiring glycerine to this and he was well satisfied. He went to see the Board of Trade and this is the reply he received. It has the real official ring about it—
The letter goes on to refer to the proclamation and says—
Now what is my friend going to do? Has he to wait the pleasure of the Board of Trade until they can go into the matter? Has the stuff to lie in the docks until they have found time? This is exactly what I have pointed out to the Minister. When you are depending on officials if the law is not laid down clearly, then you are going to have trouble. My friend cannot afford to wait. This is a specific instance which has just turned up.
I think the hon. member is rather unreasonable. I always understood he objected against the provisions of this clause where articles could be admitted under certain circumstances free. Now he apparently wants us to do it without any proper safeguard. Every case must be properly considered and investigated on its merits, and then only is a proclamation issued. In regard to this particular matter the board is considering the whole thing and will report. The hon. member will see this is a great concession we are making. If it is proved that it is necessary that in the interests of an industry goods should be admitted free, a recommendation will probably be made to that effect.
It seems to me to be injustice. You allow distilled glycerine to come in free for one industry for explosives—
They have made out their case.
Why differentiate? Why should one industry have the privilege while others have to make application to the officials every time? That is what I object to. It is this differentiation I very much complain of.
It is not a case of differentiation at all. When the tariff was framed, of course, the Board of Trade had certain industries which came and established their case, but, of course, it is not a general privilege. Other industries that want this must go and make out their case. Unfortunately, the tobacco people have not come along yet. They must go through the ordinary procedure. The hon. member knows the work the Board of Trade has to do. This is a very valuable and important privilege, and having got that, they must be prepared to follow the ordinary course, which is to provide the necessary safeguards for the protection of revenue. I want to move the following drafting amendments—
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 3,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 4,
It was pointed out by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) that this is quite a new principle in our legislation. One of the provisions under which the board will report is where any industry—
I would just like to know how the Board of Trade are going to prove that. What basis are they going to take? Are they going to take a basis of the cost of output of the badly-equipped factory, or the up to date factory? It is going to make all the difference. What are they going to do in the printing trade, for instance? We have a notable example in the report laid on the table recently in regard to the railway workshops. Look at the cost of manufacture there, as compared with the cost of manufacture in other parts of the world. I do not see how my hon. friend can carry this out. I would like to call attention to sub-paragraph (c)—
What are satisfactory labour conditions—rates of pay, employment of natives, employment of coloured people or employment of whites? There is no definition at all. The only thing one can do is to refer to the report of the Board of Trade issued some time since, in which, in their opinion, satisfactory labour conditions means the employment of civilized labour. I do not know how they are going to work that out. I would like to have some definition from my hon. friend as to what they really mean by unsatisfactory labour conditions. Because I might say these ideas have been tried on in Australia, and they have failed. When they started their heavy protection duties, they thought they were going also to take care of the consumers, and also taking care of the employees, the wages paid to them and the like. It has been a dead failure, and it has now been dropped, and I fully expect it will be very much the same here.
We are dealing here with a case where an industry gets protection, and, of course, when the Government grants this protection it generally has an object in view. The hon. member says—
Of course, it will be a question of fact. The board will go into the thing and the Government will determine the question on its merits. The Government will have to justify its policy to Parliament in every particular case. I have said before that as far as I am concerned—and I think I speak for my colleagues—one of the principal objects of this country going in for a protective tariff is to provide employment for our people who cannot get it to-day. If any industry gets a high protection under this tariff, and they employ only uncivilized labour, well, as far as I am concerned, that industry is worth nothing to the country.
What percentage? 50?
This is a matter which the Government will have to determine in consultation with the Board of Trade, and will have to justify its action to Parliament. The hon. member may object and say that Parliament should not delegate its rights to the Government; but if you want to build up industries, your Government must have certain rights. One of these is that the Government should be able to allow certain articles in free of duty, and to take off the tariff when it is for the protection of your consumer. When we find too high prices charged, or a monopoly created, these are matters of fact which the Government will deal with and say they will not get protection any longer. We had a case in Durban where a high protective duty was given with the particular object of getting these people to employ white labour. They got a great benefit.
Is that the oil people?
Yes; it is dealt with in the report of the Board of Trade. I am assisting them in another way by admitting their packing material free of duty. The Board of Trade found that the differentiation in this case was not justified from a labour employing point of view.
The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has said that this is something new. Let me quote from a statement made by the president at the Trade congress in Canada. He said—
Also in regard to the United States, it says—
“The American wage earner,” observes the statement, “on a basis of what his pay will buy for him, is paid more than twice as well as his British colleague in London; nearly three times as well as the wage earner in Amsterdam, Holland; more than three times better than the worker in Berlin, Germany, and nearly five times as much as the industrial worker in Italy.”
Wages in different countries in terms of what they can purchase of food and shelter in the respective localities, are compared in a chart prepared by the Conference Board on a reported basis of data collected by the international Labour Office at Geneva. Taking Philadelphia as a typical American industrial city, the average wage there, in terms of purchasing power, is indexed at 100, the wage index for other countries thus showing the percentage relation of foreign “real” wages with the following “striking” results:
Philadelphia, 100; Cape Town, 72; Sydney, Australia, 70; Ottawa, Canada, 69: London, 45; Copenhagen, Denmark, 41; Oslo (Christiania, Norway, 38; Amsterdam, Holland, 37; Stockholm, Sweden, 36; Paris, France, 33; Berlin, Germany, 29; Prague, Czechoslovakia, 29; Brussels, Belgium, 28; Lodz, Poland, 27; Rome, Italy, 23; Vienna, Austria 23; Warsaw, Poland, 23; Milan, Italy, 21.
It is quite clear that if we do not give the Minister the power to enforce a different rate, especially in dumping, we shall have the large importers of this country encouraging the manufacturers across the water to erect factories in the countries where naturally the purchasing value of the wages is lowest, it means greater profit to the manufacturer. If the Minister has not this power, we will find an extension of what has been happening in recent years; the manufacturers erecting factories in the countries where they make the greatest profit. For instance, the cotton industry in Lancashire, working one week, could supply the total requirements of England for a year. In the United States, in place of the old-fashioned stocking-making machines in use 40 years ago, where one operator was employed on six machines producing 432 socks per day, they now employ a new machine where one operator attends to 25 machines and produces 3,600 socks per day. We see, then, that there is no chance for creating industries in this country unless we have a scientific protection. It is all right stating that the Minister should state a definite sum and also fix a definite dumping clause; but it is utterly impossible. The currency in each country keeps on varying month after month, so do the wages or what the wages can produce, and therefore it is wrong to expect this country to fix a definite sum; it would be injurious to this country in the way of creating industries. I hope the Minister will stand firm on this clause and keep this power, acting on the advice of the Board of Trade, which I believe has been very efficient up to the present time. I believe the Minister, acting in conjunction with the Board of Trade can use this power to prevent the people of this country being exploited for the benefit of the few capitalists. We know that they are erecting factories in China at the present time—the British capitalists. It is not for the benefit of the Chinese workers; because they were happier then than at present, we are very near a war in China; the manufacturers are getting concessions from the different war lords in China, and building factories for the benefit of about half a dozen big capitalistic men of the world, the result being increased unemployment in Europe, and in this country. On the other hand more Chinese employed in industries.
Let us get back from China for a little bit.
You do not care where you get your money from.
My only difficulty is that I do not get enough. In regard to clause 4, my difficulty is that I do not see how it is going to work. It seems to me that it will do more harm than good. We have a Wages Bill which is intended to secure adequate wages and presumably civilized wages, in the occupations to which it is going to apply. Now we say to the employer, you have not only got to pay wages which are going to be laid down by the Wages Board, but you will have to satisfy the Board of Trade that you are going on satisfactory wage conditions, and from the definition of satisfactory labour conditions which we have from his description, it seems to me the Government are trying by this clause to introduce a new kind of colour bar. That is to say the Board of Trade has to be satisfied riot merely that an employer is complying with the requirements of the Wages Act in regard to the wages he is paying, but that the colour of his employees is up to the mark and is not too much diluted.
Are you not stretching it a bit?
What does it mean?
You are going to impose on an employer not only the task of satisfying the Wage Board, but also the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade may say, you are not carrying on satisfactory labour conditions and we are going to take away your tariff privileges. I do not want to see sweated labour protected under the tariff, but let us apply different methods. Let us apply the machinery we have to obviate the introduction of sweated wages. Is the Wages Board not enough? Why bring in this, which is only going to hamper the establishment of industries; not because it is going to impose unfair conditions, but, by creating uncertainty, it is going to hamper men wishing to start industry in this country. If the Minister finds unfair conditions under a particular employer, is he going to penalize the whole industry? If not, this thing is useless. It might apply in just a few cases, when you have only one factory carrying on one particular industry, or a whole industry in the hands of one concern; there it might apply. These are the exceptions. Elsewhere this cannot be applied to bring about what is wanted. You have your Wages Board; be satisfied with that, and not try to do, with a tariff regulation, what cannot be done, never was done, and never will be done by tariff.
It is gratifying to hear the enthusiasm for the Wages Bill now when some other provisions are being introduced in another measure.
I have always supported the Wages Bill.
The hon. member for Yeoville must know that the Wages Board will only function in an industry where employers and employees make an application to the board to have an investigation, and that if the industry is an organized one, before it can secure an investigation by the Wage Board, it has to secure the necessary consent of the Minister; so there might be a number of industries where either the board will not be called upon to investigate, or it may mean a year or more before the various industries are dealt with. In the meantime the industries may be protected and the Government is entitled to say—
I think that the Government—which some times I criticize—is to be congratulated on this section, which is one of the best industrial provisions we have had. I am of opinion that it will have the best effect, not only on the workers, but also on the consumer, and in the long run will benefit the good class of employer, for he will know that as long as he does not attempt to exploit the consumer or the producer he will have adequate protection, but the moment he seeks to utilize that protection for his own benefit only he will lose it. The tariff, indeed, would be incomplete without section 4. The provision has been tried elsewhere. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) thinks nothing good can ever come out of Australia, but in spite of that we see that shiploads of emigrants are passing our shores bound to Australia, for there they know they have a better chance of obtaining employment under reasonable conditions than they have here. This clause will help very materially to divert that stream of emigration to South Africa, and also help to solve other problems with which we are confronted. The late Mr. Fisher, the second Labour Prime Minister of Australia, enunciated a principle which has been laid down by Mr. Justice de Villiers in the Transvaal—that no industry is worth having unless it secures to those employed in it a wage which will enable them to live on decent standards. Mr. McKinley, when introducing the United States tariff, said cheap labour means cheap men, and a cheap country. We don’t want to build up a cheap country, but one in which every worker can live under decent conditions.
With regard to this provision I find myself in entire disagreement with the two hon. members on the front Opposition bench. The late Mr. Birch coupled with the protection of industry two other proposals—the protection of the consumer, and the protection of those employed in the industry. It is said we have that in the Wage Bill, but I do not think we have in that Bill the power which this clause will give to the Board of Trade. Assuming that a wage board fixes the wage in a certain industry, that will not prevent an unscrupulous employer from engaging an unduly large number of coloured persons, while another employer might want to engage only white people. Where the State is giving an industry State protection, then the State is entitled to say to the protected industries that they must carry on under proper conditions as far as their employees are concerned, while the State must protect the public against exploited industries. If you find an industry is charging unduly high prices the Board of Trade should be in a position to say: “We will not interfere with profits, but will take away the whole of some of the protection granted by law.” It may be that the great bulk of the persons in that particular industry are carrying on their trade in a proper way, but one or two unscrupulous individuals are guilty of practices which may be objected to. It would be a good thing to introduce the words—
so that the board could deal with the specific individual. I believe there are some boot manufacturers who employ a very large percentage of white people, while others engage an unduly large percentage of coloured persons. As the clause stands an un-scrupulous manufacturer would affect the whole of the industry, and that position should be met. I entirely approve of the provision to enable the Government to take away some portion of the protection.
We are talking about civilized labour conditions. Well, the shirt, collar and pyjama-making trade has been given considerable protection, for its materials will be imported free, while the made-up articles will have to pay a duty of 25 per cent. I don’t know if the Board of Trade has satisfied itself about the civilized conditions of this industry. In the “Nation” of July 18th, Mrs. M. Walsh refers to a poor woman, with children, at Johannesburg who worked from 6 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. shirt-making. The most she could manage to make in a working day was nine shirts, and she was paid only 4d. a shirt. This is in a protected industry. Why should protection be given to an industry of that kind? I believe the same thing is carried on in Cape Town. For the making of a shirt with two pockets 5d. is paid. The Malay tailor, who employed this poor woman, received about 10d. to 1s. for the making of a shirt. What is the good of talking about civilized labour when you are giving protection to an industry like this?
Take the protection away then.
You will have a task to find these people out. Cheese-making is protected. Does that employ only civilized labour? What sort of labour is employed in the East Griqualand creameries?
Take grain growing. What is the definition of satisfactory labour conditions? What are the conditions of sugar growing which, I think, employs a fair proportion of natives? I am mentioning these instances to show the absolute impracticability of this proposal. I am absolutely certain it cannot be carried through. I have no doubt the wages board will deal with the shirt-making, but why bring the Board of Trade into the matter as well? The proposal is unjust in this way. One employer may be quite fair and pay decent wages, but another employer may be the reverse. Yet the State would have to apply the same punishment to both.
I realize the difficulty, which has been pointed out, in which you have an industry in which some employers do not play the game. I admit there is a weakness, but you will have to treat every case on its merits. But there are other instances where a case for interference may be made out, where there are only one or two employers concerned. I am just afraid there will be practical difficulty in the carrying out of the suggestions of the hon. member for Durban (Central) (Mr. Robinson) as regards differentiating between certain employers. I am afraid that will not be practicable. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) raised the question of shirt-making. Everyone was shocked to see the conditions which existed in Cape Town.
No, it was Johannesburg.
I understand these conditions exist where articles are made in people’s homes. But this protection is given only to registered factories where not less than ten persons are employed. The hon. member knows how the pyjama-making industry at Worcester was started, but I am afraid that concession which the Government granted is being abused, and we shall have to look very carefully into it. This clause will enable the Government to deal with this case. I submit that in spite of the difficulties, which admittedly exist, this clause will enable the Government to act with benefit to the industry concerned and with advantage to the State.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 6.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 7,
With regard to the duties contemplated under this section, can the Minister tell us whether we are bound by any treaties entered into by the British Government to which the Union is a party and which may bind us in the granting of most favoured-nation treatment.
Before I reply, I have an amendment to move—
I want to ask the Minister whether he will not re-consider the use of the word “treaty” in this clause.
Yes, because “treaty” usually implies an agreement between a ruling monarch of a foreign country. I move—
The hon. member will see in Clause 8 we have the words agreement or treaty. I pointed out in the minimum tariff it would enable the Government to enter into commercial agreements where we had reciprocal treatment. The result will be that instead of agreeing on special items, you could conclude a general most favoured foreign nation agreement. The United Kingdom would get the benefit of that. I don’t know whether it matters much whether we use the word agreement or treaty.
If it is a treaty it should be made on the advice of the King, and not by the Governor-General, because the Union is not a sovereign power. A similar amendment will be required in Clause 8.
Amendments put and agreed to.
In answer to the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin), I am not aware of any such agreements in existence. There was the Mozambique agreement which has lapsed. I am not aware of any other, but we will take cognisance of any agreements which do exist.
I meant any agreement by the British Government which might be binding on this country.
Not that I am aware of.
Clause, a amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 10,
What is the position in regard to East Africa at the present moment, also Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Tanga and Uganda? Do they come into the clause and with regard to Angola and Mozambique? What is the position? The late Government sent a commission to East Africa to go into the matter, and I thought? They came to an agreement.
This is a re-enactment of existing legislation. It deals with countries and territories contiguous with the Union. Nothing has been done in British East Africa since we came into office.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 11,
Does the Government of Southern Rhodesia accept this tariff?
They have not approached us officially in any way.
They accept the tariff as it is here?
We have had no communication at all.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 12,
On the motion of the Minister of Finance an amendment was made in the Dutch version which did not occur in the English.
Before you put this clause I would like to ask the Minister a question in reference to sub-section (b). This gives a rebate on goods manufactured in the Union. What is the position of the jam manufacturer who uses sugar? Will he get a rebate?
They would not come under this clause. That is a question that will be considered.
You put the jam manufacturer in a difficult position. He has to pay the local price for sugar and the result is he will not be able to export jam. I should have thought, in your desire to promote these industries, you would have found out means by which it could have been done. I will tell you how it can be done. They can import sugar from Mauritius and Cuba, use it in their jam, and claim the rebate.
What do the Natal members say to that?
The fact that they have to pay more for the sugar hampers the jam manufacturer, because he cannot compete in the open market. Sugar has come from America to the jam manufacturer. Why should it not continue, and when the export give them a rebate of the duty paid? That is a fair way to do it.
I hope my hon. friend the Minister will agree to that. The Government for some considerable time have been doing all they possibly can in the agricultural department to encourage the development of the fruit-growing industry in this country. There is only a certain market for raw fruit in this country, but there is a good market for jams, I think, overseas. If we are going to get that market overseas for our fruit made into jam, it is essential that we should get sugar at the cheapest possible rate. I am not opposed to the protection of the sugar industry in Natal in any way, but I do say that when the House agrees to that duty, it should say that on jams manufactured in this country and sent overseas there should be a rebate equivalent to the import duty on sugar. There has been a great increase in the deciduous fruit grown in the Eastern Province, and the opening for that fruit lies in the jam industry. It is a mistaken policy to prevent the development of the by-products of a primary industry in any way.
I informed the House on a previous occasion that I was considering this matter. I agree with the hon. member (Sir Thomas Smartt) that there is very much to be said for it, but I am afraid we cannot make provision for it here now. The difficulty would be to know how much sugar was imported, and how much was local sugar, but it would perhaps be possible, to some extent, to meet the position, and I am earnestly considering the question to see what really can be done.
I don’t want the jam manufacturers to use imported sugar. I want them to use the sugar of this country for the manufacture of jam, but whenever jam is exported I want my hon. friend to take legal steps so as to place him in a position to be able to give people who export jam overseas a rebate on the basis of the customs duty. I believe the customs duty is 3s. 6d. per 100 lbs., and I want the jam manufacturers to have a rebate of that amount on sugar that they use for the manufacture of jam exported overseas.
That is just the difficulty. How would we know what proportion of imported or South African sugar goes into the manufacture of the jam which is exported? We will go into the whole matter, but I am not in a position now to say whether that would be practicable or not.
I do not see why there should be any difficulty in the matter. It could be dealt with on the same basis as the authorities now deal with the production of spirits. I am glad that the Minister is sympathetic, but what I feel is this, that unless he takes some legal steps, it will be illegal for him to do this for another 12 months.
I wish to propose—
The idea was that a rebate on household and personal effects should be given to all bona fide settlers, but I am afraid that if you confine it to “household effects” it would have a very restrictive effect, because that would only include furniture and things of that nature.
I am afraid the hon. member (Mr. Struben) does not perhaps know that the amendment would not be to the benefit of your settler. It would limit the scope of this concession. On personal effects they do not pay any duty at all. I think the hon. member had better withdraw his amendment.
With leave of the committee, amendment withdrawn.
I would like to appeal to the Minister to assist the jam manufacturers in the way suggested by the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) and the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt). During the war, and immediately after, when sugar and other articles were very high in price in Europe, we manufactured here a good bit of jam, and did a good export trade in jam. Since then the export has fallen away. In the meantime considerable orchards have been planted simply for jam making, and you cannot manufacture your jam unless you have an export outlet for it, because you are manufacturing much more than you can consume in the country. There is very considerable scope for export if we were to get some relief in regard to the sugar, and I hope the Minister will give this matter his serious attention, because he will thereby benefit a large section of fruit growers, not only here in the Western Province, but also in other parts of South Africa.
Sometime ago I mentioned the same thing when I asked the Minister to be so good as to exempt from customs and excise duty sugar which is used for jam for export. He said he would consider the matter, and I hope he is doing so. I concur in what the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) said, viz., that the quantity of local and imported sugar used can be easily controlled by the jam factories, and also the quantity exported, because the manufacturer has to keep a record showing where he bought the sugar and what becomes of the jam. Fruit culture is developing every day, and I am glad to say that the Government is meeting us by building a railway in my constituency which will practically carry nothing, but fruit for years. It is necessary to encourage fruit culture, because it is in the interests of closer settlement in the country. I know a man who has four morgen planted with fruit trees, and he pays income tax on £900. There is no occupation which lends itself better to closer settlement. I therefore hope that the Minister will give his attention to the matter.
The hon. member will see that this cannot now be incorporated by way of amendment. The matter will be fully dealt with by the Board of Trade and Industries and proper provision will be made.
We cannot get this Bill through to-night. Why cannot the Minister draft some amendment? The export trade of jam is nil now. In every orchard you have a certain amount of fruit which must be used for jam making. This is becoming a very serious question.
The Minister cannot insert it now. It involves expenditure.
I am not suggesting it now. But in the meantime he might set his men to work and have something brought up tomorrow morning.
It cannot be done now, but can in the “report stage.”
Well, as long as it comes in the Bill I don’t mind. I hope the Minister will not be put aside by difficulties set up by officials.
May I really make an appeal to the Minister? This is not a party thing in any sense whatsoever. The position of the fruit-grower in the country is becoming more difficult year by year. There is a certain amount of fruit that can be sold in the country as fresh fruit; a certain amount can be exported and a certain amount can be dried. There is a very large development in the export of pineapples. I was surprised to hear that these pineapples make very fine canned fruit indeed. The Minister might tell the committee that between now and the report stage he will go into the question with his legal advisers and try and draft some amendment which could be put on the Paper and moved into the Bill at the report stage. He will do a great deal of good and the loss in revenue will be nothing compared to the good he will do to the fruit-growing industry.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On clause 14,
This is the sort of thing which would not be carried out in the daily transaction of any member of this House. It comes to this, that if people overseas offer you something very cheap you have to refuse it. I would like to ask the Minister whether he intends to take out “exportation” in line 61 page 8, and put in “purchase.”
I would like the Minister to explain what would be the price of these commodities, because we may find people exporting commodities cheaper than what they sell at in their own countries. I want the Minister to say whether he will take the price of an article on export or the price of an article of like character that is used in the country where it is manufactured.
The hon. member will see that we have elaborate definitions laying down how these values have to be arrived at. I am afraid I could not set it down more clearly.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 15,
I want to move the following amendments—
These are all drafting amendments, and do not make any difference to the intention of the clause as originally drafted.
Amendments put and agreed to.
On page 100 will be found a schedule of the articles in respect of which dumping duties apply at present. If hon. members will look at that, they will see that, with the exception of, perhaps, two or three cases, these items refer to wheat and flour, cement, asbestos cement, and so forth. In each case the effect of the dumping duty is to raise the cost of living or the cost of building. Here we are short of houses, the cost of building is dear, and we propose to make it dearer. Then there is the freight duty. The effect of that we saw this afternoon. Suppose a ship wants to come for a cargo of maize, and to get out here cheaply it will take a cargo of fertilizer or other low-priced material, and she takes it at a low price to get here. We put on a dumping duty to keep it out. We damage both sides—the people here who can utilize the stuff to advantage, and the people who want to send the stuff overseas. This actually takes place as a result of a policy of this kind. Here we are putting the dumping duty also on to breadstuffs, one of the necessaries of life, and I would recall the speech of the Secretary of Agriculture, who points out that these duties do not do the producer any good. There is another point as well. In many cases it has the effect of penalizing enterprise. A man, by carefully watching a market, may foresee that there is going to be a rise in the price of an article. He makes a contract for it, and when the time of shipment arrives and the price has risen as he anticipated, he is faced with a dumping duty in some cases. I do not say in every case, but in most cases. Then there is another point. This word “dumping” is used over and over again where it is not dumping at all, but pure competition. Take boots. It is some times said they are dumping boots. There is no combination among boot manufacturers, and what single manufacturer is going to send boots into this country at lower than the ordinary prices? Then there is wire-netting. I would like to see the manufacturer on trie other side who is going to dump. Is he going to make a sacrifice for the sake of the whole trade? But now you have started it, “dumping” is a favourite word. Wherever these industries are undercut or under sold by manufacturers from overseas, it is always said to be dumping. It is simply superior organization or superior manufacturing and so forth. Of course it is no use attempting to move it out, but I want to point out that this sort of business results in dearer building and dearer cost of living, and so forth.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 17,
I wish to move a small amendment—
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 19,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On the First Schedule,
First Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.
On the Second Schedule,
The hon. member should have moved the amendment on page 44.
I understand if I had moved it on page 44 it would apply to cars from any country. In this case it is only cars from the United Kingdom.
It is too late to move it now. It is in conflict with what has been passed by the committee.
This schedule deals with preference, and that is the reason he moves
I am sorry, but look on page 38. It has been agreed to.
I submit it does not make it impossible to do it here.
The only way to do it would be to send it back to the House. The hon. member may do it on the report stage. It is impossible to do it here. I might suggest that he can get it before the House on the report stage. The minimum and the maximum rates have been fixed, and I have no power to ask the committee to go back.
Can I call your attention to page 90 of the second schedule—
He wants to move it in connection with products and manufactures of the United Kingdom only. He could not have done it on the other schedule.
I am not prepared to say the hon. member is not in order. I think he could move it, but I am sorry I cannot accept it.
I think he is out of order, and I cannot allow it now. I would allow it if I could.
Second schedule, as printed, put and agreed to.
On the third schedule,
Asbestos-cement Sheet | Germany”.
Third schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.
Fourth and fifth schedules and the title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; to be considered to-morrow.
Sixth Order read: House to go into committee on the New Cape Central Railway Acquisition Bill.
House in Committee:
On clause 1,
I see that this clause deals with confirmation of the agreement set out in the first schedule, so I suppose one may refer to the schedule on this clause. Section 4 of the schedule states—
Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell us what is the result of the enquiry by these two engineers.
In regard to the application of clause 4 the information that we have is that the line is in fair order.
Will they have to make a rebate in the price?
I do not think so. The hon. member will realize that it is midnight on July 31 when we take over. I cannot say at present what the position will then be.
But as it is now?
As it is now, it is in fair order. But there may of course occur a wash away. On the whole, my information is that the line is in fair order and subject to its being in fair order on the 31st July, we will take over.
Clause put and agreed to.
Remaining clauses put and agreed to.
On the First Schedule.
In regard to Clause 12 of the first schedule, I observe that by the contract made with the company the Union Government engage to take over the members of the present staff, except men of certain age and those whose salaries or wages exceed £500 per annum, but the engagement of any such member of the company’s staff is not to entitle him to any pension rights except such as are subsequently acquired under the Act of 1912. I feel that these men, although they have been working for a private railway company have indirectly been discharging the same service to the State, to the public of this country, as men who were really in the State railway service per se, and I think it would be a reasonable thing to expect that the old servants of the company should be entitled to qualify in the same way for pension rights. As it stands, they have only the right to qualify from the time they are taken over by the Administration, whereas I want to see provision made for these men to be able to participate fully in all pension rights, to let all their service count in—the service they have rendered indirectly to the State as servants of the company as well as after the railway service takes them over. I do not think there is any fear that this would entail very much liability on the part of the State, as it would affect only about nine men of the old Kowie Railway Company’s service in addition to the men now affected. On broad lines, I think it is our duty to allow these men to participate to the fullest extent in the pension fund, though I do not say exactly on the same footing as men who have joined the service from the start, and pay arrears to qualify for pension. I would suggest to the Minister that, supposing these men of, say, 20 years service, are not able to pay 20 years’ arrears contributions, they would, of course, not be able to participate in 20 years’ benefit, but if they can pay for ten years I think they should be allowed to benefit fully to that extent, or any proportion of their service for which they can afford to pay arrear contributions to the pension fund. I do think that this is a clear case where these men should not be treated just as employees of an ordinary private show, but as employees, as it were, of almost a public service, for this is a quasi public service, in a country where the railways are almost entirely State owned.
I am sorry that I cannot meet the hon. member (Mr. Struben). I would have liked to have done so, but if I were to admit the principle of giving such pension rights to men who have rendered service and very good service too, to this private company, it would mean that the door would be open and a precedent established which I could not defend. I therefore regret that I cannot accept the hon. member’s suggestion.
I wish to put up a plea for these men. Some of them have been in the service of the company for a good many years, and, after all, there are not so very many who are in that position. Now their service is being interrupted. The company might have provided some pension or gratuity for them at the end of their term of service, and in fact most likely would have done that, but now that the Government are taking over the line the company can no longer do that. You will have these men in the ordinary service of your railways on quite a different footing from the remainder of your staff. In the recent Superannuation Bill provision was made for a good many men in the service to pay up their contributions. Then there is another class of men for whom I wish specially to appeal to the Minister. There are a few men, I believe about half a dozen, who, if they have not reached the age of 60, are on the verge of 60. They would, in the ordinary course, I understand, have to quit the service. I saw the Minister, and he said he would give them fair notice. I think some provision ought to be made for these men according to their capacity. They will have no pension.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
I have been delegated by the leaders of a certain deputation which waited on the Minister a few days ago to express to him their hearty thanks for the reasonable way he met them, and for the suggestions he has given them in regard to their future. I would like to associate myself with the remarks made by the two previous speakers in regard to the pension fund. As the Minister will know, the denutation hinted that there was something like £20,000 which would be coming from the Central Railway, and it was then suggested that the money might be utilized for the pension funds, and I would still commend that suggestion to the consideration of the Minister of Railways and Harbours. The hon. member for Gordonia (Mr. J. H. Conradie), seems to be waxing wrath over what I said the other light, but I am quite prepared to repeat it. I regret the absence of the hon. member for Riversdale (Mr. A. L. Badenhorst), because I am sure if he had been here he would have ably supported the just demands of the men in regard to their pensions. I think I owe him an apology, in this respect, that in passing thanks all round I omitted to pass thanks to him, because his attitude was “alone I did it.” I again appeal to the Minister to do what he possibly can for the men in regard to their pensions, and to think over the proposal of the £20,000 referred to.
Hon. members persist in raising this matter, although I have clearly indicated what my difficulties are. If this were done in this case it would open a precedent which I could not defend. Other interests being affected I regret I cannot see my way to adopt it.
Schedule put and agreed to.
Second schedule and title put and agreed to. House Resumed:
Bill reported without amendment, and read a Third Time.
Seventh Order read,—Second Reading South Africa Act, 1909. Further Amendment Bill.
The Bill, the second reading of which I am now proposing, makes provision for the increase in the number of Ministers from ten to eleven. It has been clear for a considerable time that tile work with which Ministers have to deal has increased during past years to such an extent that even when the previous Government sat on these benches it was clear to the House that proper attention could not be given to business., We have during the past 14 years of the Union Parliament had a steady increase in business. This was partly caused by taking over some of the affairs of the provincial councils. At the same time there was development of industries, commerce and labour matters which made it necessary from time to time to create new departments. One of the most recent examples of this is the department of labour. I do not think there is anybody in the House who will not acknowledge that if there is one thing necessary it is that more attention should be given to the departments of industries and labour. We know that for a considerable time requests were made to the former Government and also to this Government that these sub-departments of different portfolios should be placed under a separate Minister. It is very clear that if we want the Ministers to do more than merely give their attention to their offices, that is if we want Ministers to devote themselves to the wider and broader problems upon which far more depends than on mere administrative work in offices, then it is necessary that the number of Ministers shall be increased. It is clear that we have to do in the first place in a department with administrative operations. For that no Minister is required. For that we can get cheaper people, the ordinary officials, even if it is all-time people who must possess great ability. Then we have questions of policy, of general policy. Then there are frequently subordinate matters which involve questions of tact and which consist of ordinary administration, but which take so much of the time of the Minister that he is not able to give proper attention to the wider and larger questions to which such matters are subordinate We have been fortunate since we came into office that it has not yet been found necessary for one of the Ministers to go oversea, and none of our Ministers has yet become indisposed. But it is clear that if any of the Ministers have to go away it will be impossible properly to carry on the business falling within the portfolio of such a Minister. We have already seen what happened during the last two sessions of my hon. friends opposite. Work was often done then when we could see that the Minister had had no time to give to it. It is incontrovertible that as things are to-day it cannot be done. Even if we remained in the position that we are and even if it should fortunately not be necessary for anybody to be absent, then it is still a fact that a Minister cannot at the moment give proper attention to the wider, broader and more fundamental of the problems. The time has arrived when we should increase the number of Ministers, so that some of the sub-departments can be transferred and arranged so that they can give their attention to broader issues. I do not wish to say much about the matter. I notice however it is said that Australia with a white population of 7,000,000 has only eight Ministers. Well, I wish to say that every country has its peculiar difficulties, its special problems, and one thing is certain that the problems of Australia are far more homogeneous than those of South Africa with its racial problems. The comparison with Australia is wrong for the reason that we have a Union while they have a federation where each State has its own governor and practically its own Ministers who attend to all the smaller matters, so that only the large and broader problems remain for the eight federal Ministers. And we find now that it is precisely those smaller operations which are dealt with by the States which make it so impossible for the Ministers of the Union to give their attention to our larger problems. And unless we make provision for necessary alterations then I say we cannot expect that proper consideration shall be given to our fundamental questions. Because instead of the Ministers having two or three hours, two or three days, or even weeks for considering an important matter they have to do it in a hurry, to postpone it in a hurry, and eventually bring the matter before the House in a hurry. As has been seen during the past 14 years, and I do not doubt that it will happen again in the future, this hurry has cost the country hundreds of thousands of pounds. I think I can say that there have been cases where millions were lost because matters had not been properly considered and where the operations could have been performed much cheaper if everything had been previously digested. In these circumstances I propose the second reading of the Bill.
I am very surprised that the Prime Minister comes forward in the last hours of the session, with a matter of so debatable and so contentious a character. I am amazed that we have to face, at the very end of the session, a discussion of this subject of the eleventh Minister. It is bad enough to inflict on us an eleventh Minister, but to do so at the eleventh hour of the session surely passes all limits. So far from this being a matter of fun it is a very serious matter. I listened very carefully to the statement by the Prime Minister to find out what is the real motive and reason for this extraordinary departure. I was very much astonished at the brevity of the speech of the Prime Minister, and the coolness, I might almost say the coldness, with which he introduced this subject, and the frigid atmosphere that surrounded him from those benches. I have never heard of any great constitutional departure meeting with such a cold, almost hostile reception, on the side of its supporters. I was asking myself what can be the motive of the Prime Minister. He did not give us any reason which, to my mind, will bear a moment’s inspection. He said there was too much detailed administration—the Ministers had to administer the details of their departments, so they could not devote sufficient attention to high policies of State. That is an argument for the alternative scheme that we have heard a great deal of this session from the press of the Pact—I refer to the system of Parliamentary under secretaries which would relieve their high mightiness, the members of the Cabinet of the details of administration; such a step would be necessary in order to deal with the difficulty which the Prime Minister has mentioned. But that is not the solution which he has made—his proposal is an eleventh Minister. The Prime Minister indicated that Government might come to a standstill if a mission should be undertaken by the Pact Government to London. The difficulties, he said, had become apparent before, and the situation would now become intolerable if he, or any of his colleagues, should decide to go on a mission abroad unless there is an eleventh Minister. Surely my hon. friend does not expect us to take that seriously—that an eleventh Minister is necessary to release one or two Ministers from their duties, if they go abroad? I don’t think that is a tribute to the intelligence of this House to expect us to take that seriously. I ask why eleven—why not thirteen?
Thirteen is a dangerous number.
It is going to be a very unlucky Government in any case; the Government might as well go the whole hog and make it thirteen. I must say that nothing has been said to-night to justify this extraordinary step by the Prime Minister. For fifteen years we have been working under this system. We shall have some cheap jibes now. This matter was not passed in a hurry at the National Convention, where several proposals were made. There was a proposal to have more Ministers, and a proposal to have less Ministers, than ten, and it was only after very serious consideration that ten departments of State and paid Ministers were decided upon. We have had proof of this system for fourteen or fifteen years, and not during ordinary times. These fifteen years through which the Union has passed have been the most arduous years that this country has ever seen, or will ever see in our lifetime—let us hope they will be—years not only of extreme trouble and difficulty in this country, but all over the world. During all this time, for better or for worse—some times I am afraid for worse—we got on with ten Ministers. Will the eleventh Labour Minister make all the difference? We have looked on the Constitution in its main provisions, as in a measure sacrosanct, something not lightly to be touched. Now, after all these years, the Government comes forward and says—
But the Prime Minister is not in a position to-night to convince this House or the country that such a step is necessary. He mentioned not a single reason which will carry conviction to anyone. Under these circumstances I begin to believe that there is something else which the Prime Minister has not stated.
Rumour has it that this step is necessary, not to smooth the working of the Administration, or to improve the Government, but to satisfy the junior partner in the Pact. That is what is freely stated in the press and is freely rumoured in the lobby, that the Labour party insist on a third member in the Government and the Prime Minister has agreed to increase the number to 11. It is even rumoured there is a great deal of rivalry with regard to No. 11, and balloting has reached an advance stage. It is not yet certain who is going to emerge successfully from the ordeal. I am afraid we must accept that as the position. An eleventh Minister is going to be instituted, this fundamental change is going to be made, not for any reason of state or for reasons affecting the public interest, but from merely party motives and to satisfy the claims of the Labour party in the Government. The Prime Minister might think he is satisfying the Labour party. Let me assure him they will never be satisfied. I have watched the Government this session and we have seen one important labour and socialist measure passed after another. The whole session has been a Labour and socialist session, and now, at the last moment, we have to give them another Minister. The Prime Minister will find not even this concession will satisfy their Labour friends. They are insatiable, nothing will satisfy them. I am surprised the Prime Minister has not stood firm. If it had happened at the inception of the Government, I could have understood it. The Prime Minister says now there has been a new Department of Labour created. This department promises to become the most expensive department of this country. Its estimates are swelling. The expenses which indirectly it is going to entail on industry in the country are going to be enormous. When in the wake of this new department there is going to be a new Minister, we have to pause and consider where we are going. This Government seems to be going forward regardless of expense. We handed over to them the administration of the country in a fair condition. This morning we heard what had happened. In a little more than a year in which they had been in charge of affairs, the ordinary expenditure of the country has gone up by over £2,200,000. I am not talking of the extent to which the railway estimates have gone up, but the ordinary estimates of the country have gone up by that enormous figure. When I see this I ask what are we coming to. The Government have no respect for the taxpayer and they do not pause and ask whether undue burdens are not being put on the country, a mere handful of people carrying on the enormous burden of the Government of this country. We earned unpopularity, and finally disaster overtook us, because we tried to economize wisely and unwisely, in order to make the burden tolerable. Now, we seem to have reached a stage of great prosperity when Ministers and departments are growing and every form of expenditure is on the increase, and we may find we satisfy for a moment our friends of the Labour party, but we may also find we have laid burdens on the people which they will repudiate when an opportunity is given to them. I think the Prime Minister has made a mistake in proceeding with a measure of this kind. I should have thought he would have welcomed an opportunity for more reflection. He might have said—
There is some strong pressure being brought to bear, perhaps it is from Geneva, I don’t know, or somewhere else—
Perhaps from Russia.
Yes, indirectly perhaps so—this secret pressure, which is egging the Prime Minister on to his doom. He is trying to compromise with No. 11, but it will not stop there, and other demands will follow. There is a locus penitentiae for him. It is not the only Bill, if left over, that would have to-stand over. Many Nationalist measures have to stand over, and I think it is only the Labour party who will go away partly satisfied this session. Let this also stand over, and let the Prime Minister take further thought and consideration, and if he so decides, in his maturer consideration, let him come forward with the measure next year, and we shall have the chance to discuss it on its merits. If the Prime Minister goes on with it, I may say it is not in the public interests. It may be in his party interests, although I do not think it is that. It must lead to additional expenditure, and it must irritate the people outside who expected great things from the Government, and not an increased number of Ministers and departments. They will find, the opportunity which they put in my hon. friend’s way is being used to find more jobs for pals. I daresay it will go through, but he will rue the day, and I would rather he would see, in his own interests and the interests of the country, he should call a halt. If he does not, we can only vote against it and protest in the strongest manner.
The hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) has said the country expected this Government to do great things and great works. I suggest the legislation passed this session will do more good for South Africa than all the legislation passed for many years previously. Never have we had a session of Parliament with so many Bills of far-reaching importance from the point of view of the social and economic welfare of the people as we have had this session. We have had no Indemnity Bills—
Oh yes, you have.
The little indemnity Bill we had was in consequence of our predecessors regulations being ultra vires, and it was not our fault. I want to take the hon. member for Standerton seriously. There was one thing he carefully avoided mentioning, and it was an important thing. When he referred to the previous Government having worked for so long and through such arduous years with ten members, not once did he mention in my presence that since this Government took office we have established not only a new department, but one of the most important departments that is running in this country, viz., the Department of Labour. I submit that Col. Mentz, when he was Minister of Defence, thought that the work of that office was sufficient to justify a whole-time job for one Minister. I would like hon. members to realize what Col. Mentz would have said if on top of his work as Minister of Defence had been superimposed one of the most important portfolios that any man can carry in this country. I submit that not only from the point of view of legislation, but also from the point of view of running their departments Ministers have nut their backs into it and have done much more than was done by previous Ministers.
Under our predecessors it is well-known that the country was drifting, the work was not being done, the country was going backwards instead of going forwards—
We were only men, not supermen.
I want to put this to hon. members opposite, that it would have been far better if they had had another Minister, say a Minister of Labour, who might have prevented a good many of the disastrous happenings which have taken place in South Africa during the past regime. It is true that our opponents carried on with ten Ministers, but supposing that an eleventh Minister had been able to concentrate on industrial and labour matters and had not allowed matters to develop until they had got out of hand, and had then required drastic treatment, a good deal of the disastrous happenings of the past few years might easily have been avoided. Quite apart from all this talk about “jobs for pals” which nobody takes any notice of—it is a cheap gibe which is calculated, although it won’t do it, to catch the man in the street—what are the activities of the Labour Department during the last twelve months?
I would have liked the hon. member to have had the responsibility and the work to do which the Minister of Labour has had. It has been one man’s work in itself, and it is not fair to that department to have the portfolios combined in this way, and if you want to get the industrial position of South Africa on a safe and a sound and a right basis I say that that is one man’s work alone. If a Minister of Labour is justified in countries like England. Australia and New Zealand with their populations all of one race, how much more necessary is it in a country such as this where you have so many different races, and where our own people are drifting backwards. The other side did not tackle this job, but we are trying to tackle it. The full fruits of the work which is being done in this new department have not yet been felt. Any Minister who tries to run the department of Labour in this country together with another portfolio which in the past has taken up one Minister’s whole time, whether it is the Department of Defence, or Lands, or anything else—I say to superimpose Labour on another Ministerial portfolio is unfair to the work that has to be done and to the Minister who has to do it. I know that many a man would have broken down under the work that the Minister of Labour has had to do. I know that during the past twelve months his health has been almost shattered. It is because he has been attempting too much. If we took our duties lightly, if we let things drift, if we allowed things to develop until there was a crisis and then fell back on force, there would be no necessity to appoint an eleventh Minister. We are quite content that the public shall decide in this matter. We are quite content to stand at the bar of public opinion and justify the appointment of an eleventh Minister and justify our legislation. We have got to do our job, and do it in the best way we can, and I say that the Labour Department cannot be properly carried on if it has got to be superimposed on the work of a Minister who is carrying on another portfolio as well. Hon. members can jeer, they can talk about “jobs for pals,” but I say that this department will be no sinecure for any man who takes it under his charge.
The hon. gentleman who has just spoken (the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs) evidently takes himself very seriously. Perhaps he is justified, because I have heard him described as a superman. Was it not the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs who said, as the House was reminded the other day, that what Rhodes had failed to do what Gordon Sprigg had failed to do, what Gen. Botha had failed to do, he was going to do?
I have done it. I have given Cape Town an art gallery that was promised for 35 years.
There yon are, he has done it! If there was any argument to use against the Bill it is surely the statement of the hon. gentleman, because, having two departments on his shoulders, having assisted the Minister of Labour in running his department, and having done all the other things he has done, surely this superman will be able to take a little more extra responsibility on his shoulders. Has the hon. member for Bloemfontein North wakened up? I am glad to see it. I was paying particular attention to him and I was thinking to myself this was the first time I have seen him without a jest when a subject of this kind was brought up.
There is no need to jest at a jester.
No doubt to him this is a very important measure and this is a very auspicious occasion, and so far as the hon. member is concerned it is no jesting matter of any sort whatsoever. It is a very serious matter. That is no reason why the House should take it as freely and as willingly as the hon. member opposite is prepared to take it. Now, I would come back to my superman friend over the way. Yes, that is a compliment. The hon. gentleman acknowledges it as a compliment. He says he has justified the position and he has done all these things. He has given Cape Town an art gallery, and Cape Town having got an art gallery the Union Parliament is entitled to another Minister.
I think he is rather unfortunate, in his reference to the necessity of having another Minister. His argument was that the Minister of Labour could not possibly carry out the duties imposed on him because he is also the Minister of Defence. When Col. Mentz was Minister of Defence he was also Minister of Lands, and perhaps one of the hardest working Ministers in this House, the Minister of Lands has shown how enormous is the work of that department when temporarily he had to hand over the department of irrigation to the Minister of Justice. That is an example of the amount of work that was placed upon the shoulders of the Minister as Minister of Defence when he also carried one of the biggest departments, that of land. Well, the Minister of Justice was able to take over that department, and I am perfectly sure that even my hon. friend will not say that from the extraordinary amount of time the Minister of Justice spends in this House that he really is overburdened with work. No, I think my right hon. friend has given the real explanation. True, you cannot expect that real explanation to come from the Prime Minister. The desire for this extra Minister is due to the fact that the Labour party have demanded that they should have extra representation in the Cabinet. I he only trouble with the Labour party, I understand, is between the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) and another hon. member of the Labour party who is now absent at Geneva. It has been said that there have been applications from the other corner of the Labour party, but they have been turned down, and that in the ballot box, which we understand is being conducted in a secret manner, the only vote for that particular gentleman was the one he cast himself. Let the House and the country know what the position really is. The Labour party have demanded an extra seat in the Cabinet. Among the nine colleagues of my hon. friend the Prime Minister there is no one sufficiently patriotic to resign his place to make way for a third Labour Minister. I think even the Prime Minister will acknowledge that his majority is not going to support him willingly. In that instrument of light and leading. “Die Burger.” I understand from an article this morning that they throw grave doubts on whether the eleventh Minister is necessary.
So does the “Cape Times.”
Yes, and that shows that “Die Burger” is showing good common sense and it knows it is right in the view of the majority of National members and certainly of the national mode of thought in the country. I would like to ask the Prime Minister is there any necessity to put this Bill through at the tail end of the session, because even if Parliament passes this Bill and another House supports it the Prime Minister cannot fill up that vacancy till next session. You cannot have a Minister of Labour as a paid Minister of the Crown without having Parliamentary provision to pay for it. The Prime Minister cannot tell me that he could pay the salary of the new Minister out of Governor’s warrants and unanticipated expenditure. When you pass a Bill of this kind through the House you should make provision on your estimates for that department, and if the Prime Minister, depending upon his majority, is not going to do an entirely unconstitutional thing it is impossible for him to pay it or for the Governor-General to sign a warrant of that character. That, you will agree, is the Parliamentary procedure, because this cannot be said to be a service that was not anticipated. You would be doing an extremely unconstitutional thing. The hon. member for Bloemfontein North is going quite pale, but that is the constitutional position. I do not think the Prime Minister would like to interfere in any way, notwithstanding his majority, with a constitutional position of that character. If Ministers consider that they want assistance, I entirely agree with the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) that the proper thing would be to appoint two or three under-secretaries to be attached to the departments that have the most work to perform. Such a department as that of the Prime Minister himself he has native affairs to administer; and the extra advantage of that is this, that it would then give no opportunity to designing people—you must not laugh, but it would give the Prime Minister the opportunity of taking from his younger and most intelligent people as assistant Ministers and as under-secretaries. As the right hon. member for Standerton says it would give them a training in the administrative affairs of the country.
Would that be any cheaper?
To be sure it would be very much cheaper, and it might give the hon. member a chance, because I understand he is not going to have any chance at the ballot-box. It would not in any way necessitate the establishment of other departments; it would merely be providing a salary which would not be very much for these three under Ministers or Parliamentary secretaries or whatever you might like to call them. When you appoint an eleventh Minister and have a new department it will not be very long before the expenditure is very much increased indeed. And this from the Government that rang the changes from the lowest note to the top of the compass throughout the country as to the necessity of introducing economy into the administration of this country. I am sorry for the Ministers that are overworked. I am not sorry for the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, because, for a super-man no ordinary individual can be sorry. But when I look round the House and think of the constant attendance of Ministers during the whole of this session, I am inclined to think that they have had very good opportunities of taking a little necessary rest when we ordinary members of Parliament were spending the most of our time in the House, and it is too idle for the Prime Minister to tell the House that that is the reason he is asking them to make provision for an extra Minister. We all know the reasons, and hon. members opposite know also and unless rumour is a lying jade, I believe hon. members opposite are not exactly enthusiastic over this appointment, and rumour has it also, although I can hardly believe it, that hon. members opposite, who belong to the right wing, think that if there should be an extra Minister they should have the appointment instead of the members on the Labour benches, because, as the hon. member for Standerton pointed out, during the whole course of the Prime Minister’s speech, in which he tried to point out the necessity of this appointment, there was not a murmur of approval from hon. members opposite, and that was very ominous, because they know as well as I do that this will not be a popular appointment in the country. They know that “Die Burger” is voicing the large bulk of Nationalist talk in this country, and the Nationalist voter will realise that he has been made the tool of the left wing of the Pact, for the purpose of satisfying their ambition. Perhaps there is another danger that the Prime Minister has thought of which many hon. members on both sides have noticed during this session and that is that the Prime Minister will find out if this thing goes through, and he appoints the third Minister, it will be his own undoing, because he will have strengthened that section in his own Government who are only too anxious to change the Prime Minister for another hon. gentleman who does not give, under existing conditions, that attention to this House which we would like to see given. I realise that the Prime Minister is not altogether faultless, but I would sooner have the Prime Minister I know than one I don’t know, and I would warn the Prime Minister, even at the eleventh hour, that, in his own interests, he should be careful in proceeding further with this measure.
It is a gogga.
No, it has got beyond that stage, and that you know as well as I do. My hon. friend here says it is a flier; it has shed its skin and is in the flying stage. But can the Prime Minister justify this to the House or to the country? If he considered an eleventh Minister necessary was it not more necessary, during the first few weeks of the session, that he should introduce a measure of this kind, than during the last week of the session? My right hon. friend asks when was this great discovery made. Perhaps the hon. member would tell us when the last caucus meeting was held at which this was decided.
Are you against having another Minister?
Oh, I did not know.
Not even if it was my hon. friend opposite. We would put up with a great deal from him, but would not go so far as the extra £2,500 a year and another department, with all the paraphernalia attached to it. I feel that the opinion of the country is against the appointment of another Minister.
How do you know?
Why did you not ask the opinion of the country at the last election? You said you were going to come into power, in the administration of the country, and if you were going to do this, you should have asked the opinion of the country at the election. I remember at the National Convention, when this question was discussed, it was Mr. Merriman who suggested that seven Ministers would be sufficient. We had five in the other provinces, and he suggested seven would be sufficient. Though you have no Lieutenant-Governors nor State Parliaments, you have provincial councils which do practically the same work as State Parliaments in Australia and Canada, and, under these circumstances, there is no justification, except party expediency and the necessity of the Prime Minister agreeing to the proposals of the Labour party who insist on having a third Minister in the Cabinet, and the Prime Minister not having among his Ministerial colleagues one who will be sufficiently patriotic to allow another to take his place.
The hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) said before the commencement of the session that we should have lots of fun this session. I just want to ask him whether we have to-night had this lots of fun which he promised us, or whether we may expect to have more than we have had to-night. I have never seen members of the Opposition so jocular as they are to-night. The leader of the Opposition and the deputy-leader have tried to out-vie each other, but the deputy-leader looked time after time at his supporters behind him to see whether they had appreciated the jokes, and a few times he was very disappointed that they had not done so, nor was he at all humorous. It may be that that is his idea of a joke, but, it is not our idea The hon. member for Standerton has shown to-night that he can also be pretty humorous, and I must say that his jokes caused much more amusement than those in the speech of his hon. friend at his side (Sir Thomas Smartt). One of the so-called arguments that the hon. members opposite tried to use was that it would cost too much money. But in the same breath the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) suggested the appointment of under-secretaries three or four, if you please, and he thinks that I am suited for one. I agree. There he was the nearest to the truth, but I will not, and persons with the same qualifications will also not, give their services as cheaply as he thinks. It will cost much more than appointing a Minister. This is not a joke, it is a fact. Where is then their difficulty? The great thing is not at the Prime Minister will have to give way because the Labour party insist on the appointment of an eleventh Minister, but because the Minister is to be a member of the terrible Labour party. The hon. member has said that only the hon. members for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow), Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) and Jeppe (Mr. Sampson) were candidates. This is terrible, but since when has the hon. member for Standerton been so frightened of the terrible Labour members, and especially of those three people? Did not he and his former Government try to make friends of just those three persons? Were they not pushed forward by the hon. member for Standerton in the political world? Do we not well remember still that S.A.P. candidates stood down in Bloemfontein to let in the hon. member for Bloemfontein (Mr. Barlow), and in Brakpan to let in a Labour member? He and his supporters of the S.A. party did everything to get those Labour members into Parliament. They were their friends. I well remember a little rhyme of my childhood: Piet is courting Sannie—
Those kind of stories—
The hon. member always wakes up when he hears stories of courtship. But we all did it in our young days. It seems to me that the hon. member for Standerton finds this joke a little more humourous than those of his friend next to him. I also think it is more humourous than the hon. member for Fort Beaufort. I heard in the old days that when a young fellow courts a girl and she prefers another then that girl is the worst that he has ever cared for, just because he did not get her. That is the position. The hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) could not get the support of the Labour party of the terrible Bolshevists, Communists. Socialists, and now they are the worst people that he has ever heard of. It is also untrue that this measure is something new. Hon. members there make out as if this question had only come up during the last week, but it is something which the Prime Minister has time after time said in the House when the hon. member for Standerton was still at the head of affairs that a new department—
He said time after time that an additional portfolio should be created. This even is mentioned in the S.A.P. manifesto. The hon. the Prime Minister said four or five years ago that it was necessary, Another argument which has been used is that the Opposition managed for 14 years without an eleventh Minister. But in what way? Well. I believe that under the hon. member for Standerton five or six Ministers were considered sufficient. One Minister in the person of the hon. member for Standerton was enough for the Government. Not one of the other Ministers ever dared to say anything before they had heard him. When the hon. member for Standerton was away they said nothing, because they did not know what the hon. member for Standerton would say. I always admired the former Government party because they were always up-to-date, but they certainly had no principles. Nobody sang before the Leader had led off. I can very well remember how Mr. Merriman, the former member for Stellenbosch, called out that he wished that the Ministers had pitch on their seats. I as a matter of tact, only twice found a Minister of the former Government in the office of his department. That is the reason why the Ministers in the former Government did not know what was going on in their departments. That is also why on a discussion of the various votes there was a passing to and fro between the head officials and the Ministers, of papers and notes, or minutes as they called them, like a swarm of bees. The Ministers were not fully informed and I would rather keep fifteen Ministers, or thirteen, as the hon. member for Standerton jocularly proposed, who know what is going on than ten who do not know what their work is and who are absolutely dependent on then officials.
I was not surprised at the speech of the last hon. member, whenever he speaks we usually have “lots of fun” on this side of the House. But he has let the cat out of the bag. He has shown us where he gets it from, namely, in the Tivoli. With a view to his Parliamentary dignity I hope that he will frequent the Tivoli less in the future. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and also the hon. member for Frankfort (Mr. J. B. Wessels) have expressed their surprise at the kind of legislation which is being passed this year by Parliament. But what does Ons Vaderland say about it? In its number of the 23rd June Ons Vaderland says that all the legislation which was mentioned by the Prime Minister as measures to be passed this year was socialistic legislation, and that if the Prime Minister did not put through the Bill on our own flag and South African nationality then the Nationalist party would go home without getting one Bill through in their interests. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs has said the Minister of Labour has a mass of work. There is such a thing as a reshuffling of portfolios. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and of Public Works is not overburdened with work and if we had a first-class clerk there then his department can go on just as automatically as it does at present. It is clear that no superman is required. They have one there now and why cannot the department of labour be placed under him, expense will then be saved to the country. The constitution provides that there shall be ten paid Ministers for the departments that the Governor-General shall establish for the Government of the country from time to time. This does not prevent there being other Ministers who are unpaid. Now we have a Bill before the House to alter this section of the constitution. What is the reason of it? The reason is obvious that that part of the Pact which we call socialistic is dissatisfied with having only two Ministers in the Cabinet. After the election they made a claim to three. I heard at the commencement of the session about half a dozen Deputy-Ministers. Then there would, of course, have been an opportunity for some of the friends opposite to get jobs. They have, however, been disappointed. The right wing of the Pact has conquered and the Prime Minister is obliged to carry out the mandate of those people. This shows that the coalition is something unholy, as the hon. Minister of the Interior said some time ago at Malmesbury. How it is proved here! We find here that a relatively small party which forms a part of the coalition causes the Prime Minister to carry out its mandate and to radically alter the constitution not only to create a Ministry, but to establish a whole department because the new Minister will mean a new staff and the taxpayer will have to pay for it. If there is one promise which the Pact made more than another during the election it is that their Government would economize and retrench all unnecessary expenditure. They said that the salaries of the head officials would also be cut.
Will you support that?
You are now in power. It is proposed on the contrary to increase the expenditure and to alter the constitution of the country in a radical way. The expenditure under the new Government is about £3,000,000 more than formerly if we take into consideration the general expenditure as well as the railway expenditure. And if we now bring such an alteration before the House in which we say that there should be another Minister we give the impression to the House and to the people that there is not the least intention on the part of the Government to retrench and to make things easier for the tax-payer. There is no doubt that we are going to leave Parliament this year with taxes which are higher and press heavier on the people. Here we have another measure before the House, which will increase the expenditure, and I should like to know what further burdens are going to be laid on the tax-payers? South Africa with its white population of 1½ millions is over-governed to-day. We have the Parliament, the provincial councils, and in the Cape Province the divisional councils. In the Cape Province therefore we are governed by the Parliament, the provincial councils, the divisional councils, the town councils and by the school boards which are subordinate bodies, but still constitute a part of the administration of the country and of the central Government. If there is one mistake made in South Africa then it is that we are over governed. Every year a mass of legislation is passed here and it is too much. I protest against this measure before the House from the point of view of economy. I say that by this we are giving the example not only to the House, but also to the whole public service that the Nationalist Government is not in favour of retrenchment, but for the enlargement of the Government by sub-division into departments. It will have a bad effect on the whole public and railway service. The interests of the country are being sacrificed for purely party purposes, and that is why we are opposing this proposal.
It has surprised me that the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) has dared to say a single word about this motion. If he thought what a terrible failure he made of his work when he was in charge at one and the same time of the departments of agriculture and of irrigation. Has he yet read the report of the irrigation commission? Does he know that there is a burden of £4,000,000 on the country because he controlled the two together? He was Minister of Agriculture, and as head of the department of irrigation he made advances to persons for dams which were a terrible failure, and which he ought to have foreseen had he not had to look after the two portfolios. Does he know that he advanced £14,000 to a man for a dam which had a catchment area of approximately a square mile? There is a case where he advanced £30,000 to a person for a dam and the farm was subsequently valued at less by the Land Board—a farm which cost the owner £58,000 was valued by the Land Board at £25,000, including a dam costing £30,000? Does the hon. member remember on the other hand what a failure he made the eradication of scab? The hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) raises his voice about promises. Was there not a promise by the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) that there would be a new portfolio and a Minister if he was put into power again? He made that promise in his manifesto of the 23rd April. Most people received that election manifesto, and he made that promise in it. It reads in part as follows—
He then goes on in the manifesto to point out how those matters at present were looked after by various departments such as the departments of customs, mines, etc., etc. He states that there cannot be unity of purpose and endeavour under such a diversity of departments. Then he makes the promise—
Under this proposal it is the intention of the Prime Minister to bring together the departments of industries and trades and of labour under one Minister to prevent millions being spent wastefully in fruitless labour for finding employment in connection therewith. This must be done to prevent the Defence Department, as was done under the former Government, spending £60,000 or £70,000 without having any vouchers for it. I want to read a further part of the manifesto of the former Prime Minister, although I call it a scandalous manifesto, one which was the swan song of the late Government—
Thereafter he goes on to give a description of the directions in which we can develop. In spite of that statement we have this declaration of the secretary for Mines and Industries (Mr. Warington Smyth) that 8,000 out of the 16,000 boys who annually leave our schools are unemployed in the country. The former Minister of Agriculture came and told us how pleased the people of the Free State were with him as Minister of Agriculture. He says they asked him there if the Nationalist party ever came into power to serve as their Minister of Agriculture. They would not have him any more now. But I have here before me a list of writings-down which were submitted to the Select Committee on Crown Lands. It is expected of us to write off £135,900.
What does that mean?
It shows that there are too many portfolios put under one Minister. I was pretty closely connected with the Department of Lands. If he does not get the help of half-a-dozen under-secretaries or does not break down, then we might expect to shortly write off a further £140,000. I welcome the fact that another Minister is to be appointed. I never realized how much work there was connected with a department before I got the insight into the work. To prevent reckless wasting of money it is one of the best proposals that we could make.
I am sure we are gathered round on a momentous occasion. There is clearly every sign that the Pact is about to be delivered of an eleventh child. I think, having listened to the speeches that have been made, we may reasonably hope that a sinless little “arbeider” is about to be born into this wicked world. I hope that the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. I. P. van Heerden) is not about to leave the chamber, as I wish to have a word with him. The hon. member during the general election declared at Cradock with all the vehemence which we know belongs to him that if his party formed a Pact with the Labourites he would resign.
Where did you get that from?
I have it on the best authority.
Let us have it.
Will the hon. member say that that declaration was not made to the Farmers’ Association at Cradock?
It is false; I never did. If the hon. member will sit down I will tell him what declaration I made, with your permission. Mr. Chairman. I know the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) does not understand my language, and I will try and speak in his language. I said that if the Nationalist party were to take the Labour party into their arms and accept any of their principles I would resign.
“Accept their principles.” I claim, sir, his party has done more than accept their principles.
The member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) seems to know more about it than you do.
The hon. member has done more than admit the correctness of my statement. I would go further and compare his declaration against the desirability of coalition with that of the great leader whom he owns, and who now, for his reward, is a Minister, who denounced the sin of coalition—that is the Minister of the Interior. He said—
We had the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, in an elegant egg-dance, trying to justify his appointment. To those of us who know the high principles which the Minister has lived up to in the past, it has been a matter of surprise, not’ to say regret, to find how far he has back-slidden from his old principles. In one of his famous messages to the people which he has rained down upon the expectant population of Durban he once spoke of the robbery of plutocracy. He said—
In the light of his speech to-night we can only say that this party stands for £2,500 per annum, and as much more as it can get. Another Minister is to be foisted upon the unwilling public to gratify the soul of plutocracy, which we have been told by the Minister is gold. The progenitors of the Pact, we were told during the Klerksdorp by-election, were the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow) and the Minister of Justice. We are unable to say which was responsible for the fraternity and which the maternity, but we congratulate them on the fact they are about to become grandparents, as the eleventh Minister is evidently the fruit of their progeny.
Conceived in iniquity.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) if we are to believe rumour, has more than a slight pecuniary interest in this matter, and perhaps that accounts for his not taking part in this debate. The rule prescribes any member from taking part in a debate which concerns a “contract or bargain” in which he has a pecuniary interest. I do not wonder at the hon. member having placed a self-denying ordinance upon himself on this occasion. Throughout the whole of the speech of the Prime Minister we did not hear a word of justification of this appointment on a ground which we might have expected him to speak upon; that is, the necessity for having an additional Minister to deal with native affairs. Had he brought forward that ground I venture to say there are many of us on this side of the House who would have been constrained to believe there was something in the request for the appointment of an eleventh Minister, if the Prime Minister is indeed to bring in his native policy during next session. There would be work and to spare for an additional Minister, if he introduced the far-reaching measure of segregation which he has promised us next session. Throughout the whole of his somewhat involved justification of this eleventh Ministerial post not a word was said which would justify the appointment on that ground. The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs was scarcely less fortunate. He referred to the fact that the Minister of Defence, in the past Government, had held that portfolio alone, and he referred in particular to the time when Col. Mentz was Minister of Defence. As has been pointed out, he was wrong in respect of that, and he was also wrong in respect of the tenure of office of the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts).
Only part of the time.
From 1920 onwards the Minister of Defence combined with that portfolio the portfolio of Lands, and previously the right hon. member for Standerton combined the post of Minister of the Interior with that of Minister of Defence. So the grounds upon which we have been asked by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs to consent to this appointment are particularly slender—practically non-existent. I think the real reason for this appointment is a totally different one. An old writer has said that “nothing will satisfy a patriot, but a place,” and I think that is the secret of our being asked to assent to this further appointment at this most inopportune time, in the closing hours of the session. It is undoubtedly the case that the Prime Minister is sorely beset with a number of patriots who feel that nothing will satisfy them, but a place. So far from this being the ordinary case of a “job for pals,” I would venture to suggest it is a case of a super job for a super pal.
May I say a few words. I am rather grateful to my hon. friends over there for having spoken as they did because I think it has convinced everybody who has been listening impartially to this debate, of the correctness of bringing in this Bill. My hon. friend says at this late hour. Well, we did not find it necessary before this time, and it will only be when Parliament rises again that we shall have to start our new labours for the next year, so I think, in that respect, our action is all to the good. I must say that I am rather surprised to hear hon. members saying that I have not given reasons for introducing this Bill. I think the necessary inference from the criticisms brought out this evening is really to confirm that it is necessary that an additional ministerial post should be created in order to cope with the work of the country. It has not been denied by any hon. member in this House, and not a single member has taken the least opportunity of proving that there is no necessity for the institution of this new Minister. I cannot help congratulating my hon. friends. They naturally had an excellent opportunity of making an appeal for party purposes, and having a bad case, that is having no grounds for opposition, they did their best in that way. They, of course, tried to make the country feel as though this was a measure introduced purely to satisfy one part of this Government.
Wait and see.
Have they succeeded? I want to point cut, in connection with the statement made by hon. members, that nothing has been mentioned of this portfolio before, that when going to the elections it was one of the points in the programme a separate portfolio of Labour.
That does not mean an extra Minister.
Why did you not have the Bill before?
Simply because I was going to find out first how far it would be required. I always felt that if there was any branch of the policy which, if properly developed should have a separate portfolio it was that of Labour; but I did not see and I think it would have been wrong to have asked for this portfolio to be established before the ground had been well-laid as it has been by the Minister of Defence. I am very glad to be able to free my hon. friend from this arduous task, because I think we all ought to admit that he has worked exceedingly hard at this and let as admit that even during this session, on several occasions it has been the tact with which he knew how to meet exigencies arising in the Labour field that we have had tranquillity. I feel that if in the past this subject of labour had more exclusively engaged the attention of Ministers we would have had things a little more tranquil than they have been. I do not blame the former Ministers, because I say in all seriousness they have had more to cope with than they could do. I do not want to make any capital out of what I say, but let us look at a few things. I think hon. members will admit that every credit is due to the Minister of Finance in regard to this question of the financial relations. This Question has kept us busy for years. Why? Not because we claim that we are more competent, but because we were sitting on these benches during these 15 years, but Ministers had not the opportunity to go into them. This measure of financial relations had engaged the serious attention of Ministers from time to time, but not to the extent it ought to have done. Then take the question of native taxation. This has been hanging fire since Union. I remember at the very first session the hon. member for Stellenbosch pointed out that we ought to have uniformity of taxation. The former Ministry made attempts, but did not bring it to fruition. Then in regard to uniformity of licences. I think the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) will admit that the Minister of Finance for years past sat with this thing in his lap, but could not get any further with it. I think he has given every promise that we shall be able to do something this year. There are questions which while the Ministers were busy with other big questions which did receive attention hon. members on the Opposition tackled until they really got some path along which they could go, and now they are prepared to bring them forward. Then take the diamond control. This is a question which has been revolved over and over again until sufficient light was gathered in order that when the time came something practical might be done. I may say that no argument has been brought forward to-night to show that what I said in introducing this measure was not correct and that the time has come when we ought to have more Ministerial assistance. My right hon. friend says: have four under-secretaries, but you will not get an under-secretary to stay in Pretoria and be a whole-time officer under £1,500, and your difficulty will then be to confine it to three or four.
There are so many applicants.
You had to come to Parliament and account for the faith that is in you for once you go in for under secretaries I am afraid that will not be so. I do not think it is necessary to say anything more except this, on the ground of economy, I say it is necessary that we should have some more assistance. The past of my hon. friends opposite has shown that as clearly as ever it could be shown. When we look at the Umvolosi and Sundays River—
And grain elevators.
Sundays River cost us over £100,000, and all because the Minister did not give better attention. Irrigation will cost us at least £2,000,000.
You are not going to do anything with irrigation now.
Irrigation has never received the attention it ought to receive. If the Minister in charge of such an important branch had been told off to give it his attention, I am positive it would have saved more than half of what this will cost.
You are going to appoint an irrigation commission which will take away all the work.
Exactly. We have given attention to such a matter in order to put it on such a footing that the past shall not be repeated. To my mind there is not the least doubt that great expenditure and loss have been incurred simply because Ministers could not give that attention to the subjects and leaving too much to departmental officers and initiative, and having too little time to devote to it themselves.
Motion put; and Dr. de Jager called for a division.
Upon which the House divided:
Barlow, A. G.
Bergh, P. A.
Beyers, F. W.
Brits, G. P.
Conradie, J. H.
Conroy, E. A.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I. E.
De Villiers, P. C.
De Villiers, W. B.
De Waal, J. H. H.
De Wet, S. D.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fordham, A. C.
Havenga, N. C.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Louw, E. H.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, D. F.
Malan, M. L.
McMenamin, J. J.
Mostert, J. P.
Naudé, J. F. (Tom)
Pienaar, B. J.
Pienaar, J. J.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Rood, W. H.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Snow, W. J.
Steytler, L. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Heerden, I. P.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Rensburg, J. J.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Werth, A. J.
Wessels, J. B.
Tellers: Vermooten, O. S.: Wessels, J. H. B.
Bates, F. T.
Brown, D. M.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Coulter, C. W. A.
Giovanetti, C. W.
Grobler, H. S.
Heatlie, C. B.
Jagger, J. W.
Krige, C. J.
Lennox, F. J.
Louw, G. A.
Louw, J. P.
Marwick, J. S.
Miller, A. M.
Nel, O. R.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Robinson, C. P.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Smuts, J. C.
Struben, R. H.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Van Zyl, G. B.
Tellers: Collins, W. R.: de Jager, A. L. Motion accordingly agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into committee to-morrow.
Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table—
The Examiners beg to report, in terms of Standing Order No. 182 (Public Business), that the Standing Orders relative to Private Bills have not been complied with in connection with the above Bill.
J. H. H. de Waal, Chairman of Committees.
A. V. D. S. CENTLIVRES, Parliamentary Draftsman.
When is this committee going to meet. Does the Minister expect the Standing Rules and Orders Committee is going to meet seeing that the House is sitting morning, afternoon and evening.
Yes. The House only meets at 10.30, and there is plenty of time to meet before that.
Motion put and agreed to.
Eighth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for second reading. Licences Consolidation Bill, to be resumed.
[Debate, adjourned on 17th instant, resumed.]
This Bill is intended to give effect to the new and uniform scale of licence duties which have already been accented by the House in Committee of Ways and Means. These uniform licences are introduced as a result of the agreement which was arrived at in Durban between the Union Government and the provincial administrations. In the Provincial Subsidies Bill, which was passed by this House some weeks ago, hon. members will recollect that it was there laid down how certain licences had to be dealt with which had to be imposed in connection with a new and consolidated licencing Bill to be passed by this House. The Bill consists of fourteen operative clauses. We first find the imposition of new duties, then the existing duties are repealed, then there is the repeal of the repugnant provisions under the old existing laws, and further provisions is made for the time of taking out licences. Then hon. members will find that there are two schedules containing the new duties. Then the Bill contains other provisions. In the main the operative clauses will speak for themselves. The most important provisions outside the enactment and repeals are the following: A licence has to be taken out where a trade, profession or occupation is carried on, or where the liability for a licence first arises. The scope of the licences is that Union licences, licences which go to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, are generally available throughout the Union. Then we have the provincial licences, that is licences which go to the provincial revenue fund. They are generally available only for the provinces which benefit by the licence imposed. Provincial licences are further subject to the following, viz., trading licences, which are dealt with under Part 1, are required in respect of every place of business. Professional licences are required for every province in which the business or profession is being carried on. Occupation licences are required again for every province in which the occupation is exercised. Then hon. members will see that special provision is made in regard to partnerships. A licence for trades and occupations may be issued to partnerships, but not professional licences. Provision is made that where there is more than one partner, the remaining partners can carry on against payment of a registration fee of £1. When a new partner is introduced a further licence is required to be taken out. Provision is made for the carrying on of the business in case of death of a partner by the legal representative against payment of a fee of £1. The remaining clauses deal with administrative provisions. Then we have the schedules where hon. members will see there is a lot of detail which can be better discussed when the Bill is in committee.
I have gone through this schedule very carefully, and I must confess I think it is a pity that we have ever departed from the practice which was the case in the Transvaal province of just simply making licences a registration fee. Now we put on a heavy taxation in place of simply licensing. The curious thing is that we have made these heavy licences just on certain home trades so to speak, that supply the necessaries of life to the people, whereas new manufacturing industries, of course, escape any licence at all. I am not grumbling at that, but I do grumble at the fact that these heavy licenses should be put on those industries which supply the necessaries of life. One of the worst cases is that of the wholesale, butcher. He has to pay a licence of £75. What wrong has he done that he should have to pay such a heavy licence as that? Why should he be singled out? The retail, butcher has to pay £7 10s. in an urban area. Here is an article which every family has to buy. The wholesale, butcher has to buy cattle in the first place. You would think it would be a sounder policy to encourage competition in a trade of this kind; but this tends to monopoly. Any man who wants to start such a business will think twice before he pays a licence of £75. What I grumble at the most, and where I think my hon. friend has departed from what was in the schedule, is the licence he places on the dealer in fish. A man who is a wholesale dealer in fish has to pay a £75 licence. There are several fish dealers to my knowledge in this town, wholesale men who are not only supplying fish for local consumption, but also up-country and overseas. I daresay members will have noticed in this morning’s paper a reference to a consignment just sent to Australia. You are hampering them now with a heavy duty. If there is one industry which we ought to encourage, because it is an important part of the people’s food, it is the fish industry: and yet the wholesaler will have to pay £75. I have a letter here from some fish curers on the Dock Road. They asked to have the duty taken off the boxes; but the Minister refused them, but so far as I can see he stuck them with this £75 duty as dealers in fish. You want cheap living in this country, and yet you place this heavy taxation on these people. Then, of course, there is the licence for a boarding-house keeper, £5, which is mostly resorted to by people in reduced circumstances; eating-house keeper, £5; refreshment and tea rooms, £5. All these tend in the direction of putting up prices. They may be, comparatively speaking, small, but they raise the working expenses, and the people who have to pay them take it out in increased prices. All these licences seem to tend in that direction; others also tend to monopoly, as I have shown; because everybody cannot pay down £75. The licence on trust companies is heavy. That is a perfectly legitimate business. Furthermore, I am of opinion that it hampers trade. Then there is the speculator in futures. Let me point out to the Minister how this will work. In the case of grain, especially mealies. A man makes a contract for the sale of mealies months ahead, and he must naturally make contracts on the other hand to cover himself. He must know he can get the mealies at a certain price. I take it, under this law, he has to pay a licence of £25. What good does it do? It simply hampers business.
You have had it all along in the Cape.
That does not make it any better. I cannot conceive how a really sensible Government or Minister of Finance could place a heavy duty on a business like that.
A very unwholesome sort of business.
It may be, as regards ostrich feathers; but it certainly is not so far as grain is concerned; it is done all the world over. You cannot have all these millions of bags of grain coming to the ports to be sold.
Let them buy the grain when the farmer has got it, and not buy it and bring an action for damages afterwards.
I am afraid the Minister does not understand the business. It is done all the world over. In my opinion, it hampers business and is extremely unwise. There is another point. He has an anomaly here. A wholesale commercial traveller’s licence for the whole of the Union is £15, but this is not to be paid by a traveller who does not go outside his own province. One of the difficulties the South African manufacturer has to contend with is the smallness of his market and the large area over which it is spread; consequently the expenses of distribution are heavy. Yet the Minister makes the South African traveller pay a licence of £15 a year whereas the agent of a foreign firm (who has to pay £75 a year) can send out a traveller and pay only £7 10s. a year provided the agent has lived in South Africa for three-years. Thus you may have a traveller for a local boot manufacturing firm paying £15 a year, while the agent of an English boot manufacturer pays only £7 10s.
But he has paid £75 in addition.
These licences hamper business and add to the cost of the necessaries of life. I am sorry the Minister has not gone in for some new system, instead of taking over the existing duties and, in some cases, increasing them.
I have reduced them in many cases.
This measure bristles with anomalies and injustices, and I hope for the sake of his reputation that the Minister has been too busy to have anything to do with the framing of it. If he is responsible then he is out of harmony with the members on these benches. We regard the licences proposed as too high, particularly as far as they refer to the Transvaal. The Minister told the House that the Government was trying to adhere to the principle of not using the licence fees for purposes of revenue, but merely for registration. On these benches we approve of this principle, but we want the taxation fairly distributed. Unfortunately the tendency of the taxation measure is to give benefits to the big firms. The Minister says this Bill is the outcome of a conference in Durban, and we were given the impression that it was aimed at getting uniformity, and there was a system of give and take. In the case of the Transvaal it is a case, however, of all give and no take. The scale of licences at present in force are as follows: The Free State is the highest of the lot, closely followed by the Cape, the Transvaal is low down, and Natal has practically no licence fees at all. The Free State has had high licence fees from their Republican days, and they were frankly put on for revenue purposes. The ruling fees in the Cape are double what they are in the Transvaal, and if the Minister had wanted a system to give and take he might have brought the fees down a bit, but instead of doing so he raised the Transvaal to Cape levels. In this way the Transvaal has got a grievance, but the whole Union has a grievance, because those who framed the scale of fees have listened to the blandishments of the big interests. Not only has a maximum amount being fixed on importers’ licenses, but also on general dealers and the big firms same thousands in consequence. The general dealers’ licence fee is now based on the new system of stock values instead of turnover. I think it is a better system as under the old system the people with a big turnover, showing a small ratio of profit, were dealt with unfairly, and I welcome the change. But the big firms have benefited most by the change of incidence. One firm I know, with three branches in the country, have saved £200 in each branch, that is £600 saved through the hanged incidence of this taxation. The general dealers’ maximum fee is more unfair and pointed in favour of the big interests, even than the importers tax. The tax is based on stock in-hand with a minimum of £5. Up to £5,000 stock the dealer has to pay £1 10s. per £1,000, on £10,000 £2, on £20,000 £2 10s., and on £30,000 £3. On this scale of progression laid down by the Minister, when the stock reaches £40,000 it should be £3 10s. per £1,000, but when it reaches this holy of holies amount, a minimum is fixed, and further stock carries no taxation whatever. I understand that we have some firms which have stocks of a quarter or half a million and several with stocks of £50,000. £60,000, or £100,000. All these firms benefit very considerably by this maximum scale. While some large firms have surplus stocks of £50,000 and upwards upon which they pay nothing at all, the poor struggling trader with £100 worth of stock has to pay £5. The Minister said that he found this maximum system in operation and that he is merely carrying it on. I do not think he is justified in doing that, but on the contrary should be severely blamed if he does it. The Government was not sent here nor were we sent here to continue the old evils; we were sent here to rectify them. The Minister should have brought in some measure to deal fairly and not favour these people. I repeat, on these benches we do not want this class of taxation, but when it is here we say that it ought to be evenly imposed. To give an instance of injustice. Formerly the chemists of this country came under the general dealers’ licence and the turnover tax. Under the new measure wholesale and retail chemists have merely to pay an apothecary’s tax of £5 a year. I would like to challenge the Minister to disprove a statement I am now going to make. A certain firm of proprietary chemists in Cape Town at the present time is paying £150 turnover tax, while under this new tax that firm will get off with £5 next year. I challenge the Minister to disprove that. I know he cannot. I would like to compare this to the case of a woman who is running a small grocery business in the suburbs. She has to pay a minimum £5 general dealer’s licence, and because she sells provisions, cooked meats and so on, she has to pay an extra £7 10s. a year as the Bill is now drafted. This lady who is struggling to bring up five children has to pay £12 10s. a year in licences, as against £5 by the big company mentioned. It is one of the absurdities I think of this Bill that under the grocer’s licence a grocer if he sells cooked meats and the like has to have a, butcher’s licence of £7 10s. as well. The Bill says distinctly “anybody who exposes meat or fish for sale.” This Bill is based almost entirely on the old Cape Act which stated specifically that cooked meats and small goods were exempt. That has been deliberately taken out of the present Bill. There is another anomaly in regard to cafes. It is rather surprising that a high grade cafe, such as we have in Cape Town, has to pay less taxation than a third grade one. An eating house keeper is defined as one who serves Europeans, but I know of a number of cases where Europeans and coloured persons are served in the same place. Under this Bill the owners of these concerns will have to pay £15 tax as against the £10 which the better-class places pay. A big argument used about these licences is that the idea is to make them uniform throughout the country, but you have to consider what is ruling at the present time. We have the Union restricting the taxation of the provinces and the provinces in their turn restricting the taxation of the municipalities. In the Transvaal hitherto the municipalities have imposed quite a lot of taxation. When this legislation is enforced in January next, the people will not only have to pay under this Bill, but municipal taxation as well. Assuming the municipalities are going to retain the taxation they collect at the present time, as I think they are entitled to do, and the provincial taxes are going to be on the basis of what we have before us, I would like to give instances of how the new law is going to affect the Transvaal. Restaurant licences will be increased from £7 10s. to £12 10s.; eating-houses, £10 to £15; laundries, £7 10s. to £17 10s.; boarding-houses, £7 10s. to £12 10s.; hawkers, £5 to £10; and all professional and occupational licences from £5 to £10. With regard to general dealers’ licences, and in some cases there is a substantial reduction, where there is £2,000 stock and over, but there are hundreds of small traders paying only £2 now who will have to pay the £5 minimum. These changes do not savour very much of a proposal that is not intended to bring in revenue. I would suggest to the Minister that, later on, he would accept a suggestion that we should have a minimum of £2 for small traders whose stock does not amount to more than £250. I do not think that any of these people mentioned by me are in a position to pay this extra taxation. The Minister told us he was not going to tax moneylenders because he could not define them, but he has made no mistake about pawnbrokers. He has found them all right, and is taxing them Substantially. The hon. member for Cape Town Central) in the House the other day said the pawnbroker was rather a useful citizen.
No, I never alluded to him.
Well. I may say, on my own behalf, that I think, under certain circumstances, the pawnbroker is a useful trader. We find that, though a pawnbroker in the Cape Colony is not taxed by the municipality in Johannesburg, where the whole business is supervised by the municipality, he is taxed £40 a year. The Government proposes to come along and put on another £15 and make it £55. Probably there is not much sympathy for the pawnbroker in the House, but it must be remembered that he is not going to pay the tax. It is the people who go to him to do business who will pay, and it seems to me to be a cruel impost to place upon people who are already impoverished, especially when we are told that revenue is not required. Then we have the billiard-room keeper, who it is also proposed to victimize. Though there seems to be no connection between fireworks and billiard-room keepers these are the only two things in this Act for which the licensee must have a certificate of good character from the police. There is a prejudice against billiards because they are generally associated with hotels, but if members object to billiard tables on moral grounds, they should also object to clubs having them, yet clubs are not asked to pay licences for billiard tables. I am informed that billiard tables in hotels are not profitable, and many tables have been done away with in the Transvaal so as to avoid paying the present licence of £5. Those who object to billiards on moral grounds are defeating their own object by insisting on heavy’ licences for if people are to be prevented running billiard tables on non-licensed premises, owing to heavy taxation, those who want to play billiards will have to go to hotels, whether they want to or not. The taxation as now proposed on a billiard table on the Rand is £17, £5 being taken by the municipality and £12 by the Government. On the Reef we have a number of derelicts of the war and the mines who run billiard tables to make a living for themselves and their families, and these billiard saloons in many cases are not associated with hotels. In Germiston an old man ekes out an existence by means of two billiard tables, but in future he will be called upon to pay £35 a year in licences, but he will not be able to do it. Seeing that the Government will be taking away his living, it should maintain him in future. He will be asked to pay as much as three professional men, and as much as a business which has an annual turnover of £50.000. Here is another example, a phthisis victim invested his compensation money in a billiard saloon with eight tables in Johannesburg. He will be called upon to pay annually £136, which is as much as thirteen advocates, one garage proprietor, and a conveyancer all combined, or one-third more in licences than Stuttafords will pay for their huge store in Adderley Street. We have heard about scientific taxation, but this is extinction taxation. If the Minister of Finance taxes like this when he is avowedly not out for revenue, God help the taxpayer when he is on the warpath for revenue. The Minister should either withdraw his statement that these licences are not imposed for revenue purposes, or he should say he is a man of very narrow views and wants to abolish billiard tables altogether. I expect to be reminded that in Cape Colony an annual licence of £12 10s. is paid for a billiard table, and in the Free State £15. but these licences are disproportionate to the earning value of the tables, and there is no reason for a similar unfair tax in the Transvaal. I hold no brief for hotels, and I consider that the liquor business should be nationalized, for that is the only way to restrict and control the sale of liquor. This can only be done when individual profit on the trade is abolished. But so long as publicans are legalized they should get a fair deal which they are not getting under this Bill. A hotel keeper in the Transvaal has to pay £150 a year licence as against £40 in the Cape. Billiard tables are to be licensed out of all proportion to their earning capacities owing to prejudice and because they are supposed to be against public interest. Apparently it is also considered immoral to dilute spirits with minerals, for if a publican sells mineral waters he has to pay an extra licence of £3 a year. There is another instance where the moral is pointed in the wrong direction. If hotel proprietors endeavour to improve their establishments, they have to pay extra taxation. It has been stated in the House that one of the difficulties in getting tourists is that the hotels of this country are not up to the proper standard, and that we ought to encourage proprietors to improve their establishments. What encouragement does this Bill give them? We find the hotel people, apart from the tremendous licence fees, have to pay boarding-house licence £5, restaurant licence £5, and a licence to sell minerals and cigarettes, and so with two billiard tables a hotel keeper in the Transvaal will be called upon to pay £196 a year licence. That is terribly stiff for a measure not intended primarily to bring in revenue. If the idea is to blot out the trade altogether I think the Government might adopt a more honourable and straightforward course. From the Rand press we often notice instances of hotel keepers going insolvent, and considering the economic pressure they have encountered there have been few instances of illicit practices. Owing to the excessive taxation private individuals are being squeezed out of the trade, and it is getting into the hands of the trusts. Well-intentioned people think the high taxation is solving the liquor question, but the truth is that it merely consolidates the big interests getting control of the liquor trade, and later on when measures to regulate the trade are desired the Government will find powerful combined interests against them. In dealing with the Budget the Minister has got into the habit of thinking in millions. It may be pleasant, but it does not apply to the man in the street. It is a real grievance to small traders who have previously paid £2 to have to pay a £5 tax as a minimum. It may be asked seeing there are so many anomalies in this Bill why there has been no agitation in the country to prevent the. Bill going through. The reason is many people who have thought about the matter have considered it was an empowering Bill, empowering the provincial council to levy certain licences. People of the Transvaal have sufficient faith in the provincial council to know they will not be so unjust as to impose these licences in their entirety. I trust the Minister, in Committee, will agree to accept a number of reductions. If there are no reductions, and this becomes law, when these licences are called for in January, Johannesburg will not be a pleasant place for the Minister to visit. I hope he will take a reasonable attitude and, in Committee, will allow us to make reductions or that he will empower the provincial councils to make these taxes maximum and reduce them as they think fit.
On the motion of Mr. Coulter debate adjourned; to be resumed to-morrow.
The House adjourned at