House of Assembly: Vol5 - WEDNESDAY 22 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the chair at
Mr. SPEAKER, as chairman, brought up the third report of the Select Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, as follows—
E. G. JANSEN, CHAIRMAN.
The MINISTER OF LANDS replied to Question III by Mr. G. A. Louw, standing over from 21st July.
- (1) What has been the average annual loss incurred by the Government in connection with the Government Wine Farm, Groot Constantia (Cape), during the past three years; and
- (2) what is the estimated annual cost in connection with the proposed supervision and maintenance of the manor, old cellar, Van der Stel’s bath, etc., on the said farm?
- (1) £1,885 11s. 6d., which includes the cost of training 20 apprentices.
- (2) £300.
First Order read: Diamond Control Bill, as amended by the Senate, to be considered.
On the motion of the Minister of Mines and Industries the amendments were considered.
Amendments in Clauses 17 and 18 put and agreed to.
Second Order read: House to go into committee on the Financial Adjustments Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 1,
I would like to ask the Minister a question on this. He wants to wipe off the accumulated deficit. What is the amount of that? Can to tell us?
The deficit at the 31st March, 1923, was £2,144,164 8s. 3d., and that was reduced by the surplus of 1923-’24 of £225,985, leaving a deficit at the end of March, 1924, of £1,918,000. That will be further reduced by this surplus of £800,000 and £1,100,000 will be remaining, and that comes out of the Custodian Fund.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 2,
This is a very complicated Bill. I would like to ask the Minister what the surplus is going to be. What I want to get at is this. He provides for any balance of the Custodian Fund to be handed over to the Public Debt Commissioners to reduce the debt. What will be the amount of that?
As I stated in my Budget statement the actual surplus of assets over liabilities of the custodian will be £3,419,000. That was the position at the 1st April. That was after making provision for making payments, namely, persons who had sustained injury and repatriation of Germans in South-West. Of this surplus £500,000 is allocated to road construction under paragraph (c) and £200,000 will be applied in connection with land settlement and boring in South-West Africa. The balance we propose to turn over to the Public Debt Commissioners in connection with the sinking fund, and that will be in the neighbourhood of just over £100.000. The position is now that the Union Government is actually paying to the custodian in interest more than the custodian himself is actually paying out on certificates of credit.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 3,
This seems to be rather liberal treatment. It appears they owe us altogether £79,000, exclusive of interest. My hon. friend intends writing off £29,000 and £12,000 interest. That leaves £50,000 still on loan, and it will be free of interest until the 1st July, 1927. It is rather liberal treatment.
This is something which the present Government inherited. In 1924 the previous Government appointed a committee consisting of the Assistant Director of Irrigation, the Local Government Inspector of the Cape Province and the Chief Accountant of the Treasury, and they investigated the whole matter, and their report is now embodied in this Bill. It appears there is nothing further to be done. It is an unfortunate transaction and has been from the very start, but the chances are that we will receive practically nothing. We are acting here on the recommendation of the committee appointed by the previous Government.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 4.
Considerable payments are involved in some of these clauses. In this case it is the Natal Police Supperannuation Fund which is concerned. That fund is insolvent. The income of that fund is now estimated at about £7,000 and the payments are £37,000 per annum. The truth is that the Natal Government did not make sufficient provision to put the fund on a sound basis—2½ per cent. from the members of the fund and 2½ per cent. from the Government at the start.
An amount of £33,000 was provided for last year, and on this year’s estimates we are providing £54,000. This fund is bankrupt. It is impossible to re-establish the fund, so we propose to make contributions from revenue from time to time. I have an actuarial report from which it appears that another of our pension funds is also in a very serious position.
Which fund is that?
The Transvaal Administrative and Clerical Service Pension Fund.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 5,
I suppose all these amendments are in response to representations by the Auditor-General. I see that they are to be dated back.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 10,
I see that the Minister is again transferring a number of officers from other funds to the Union Pension Fund. I would like to ask him if he has gone into this matter in order to ascertain whether it is going to affect the soundness of the Union Pension Fund
That fund is in a sound financial position and it gives benefits commensurable with the contributions paid. There will not be any danger from the transfer of these officers.
Won’t it have any effect in the way of making the fund unsound?
No, the contributions which are paid have been calculated so that the fund will remain in a sound position. These benefits are considerably less than those given by the Transvaal Administrative and Clerical Service Pension Fund, but the benefit which these officers get is that their whole period of service will be made pensionable.
On the motion of the Minister of Finance an amendment was made in the Dutch version which did not occur in the English.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 12,
Will the Minister explain the meaning of this clause?
My hon. friend the Minister of Education will perhaps deal with this clause. It is in connection with the taking over of the vocational schools and technical education and is merely to protect the existing pension rights of teachers until proper provision can be made by the Union in connection with the taking over of technical education from the provinces.
Has the Minister gone into the pension fund of the teachers in the province of the Cape of Good Hope? I am under the impression, I say it quite advisedly, that that fund is by no means in a sound position and some time I presume we shall have payments to it from the funds of the Union.
I understand that the fund is not in a very satisfactory position, but I have not been able to give proper attention to the matter yet.
Will you do that during the recess?
It will be done.
Clause agreed to.
On Clause 15,
This is a very important clause. It really means that under the Land Act in case of depression or bad crops and so forth the Minister may give the settlers four years’ interval in which the amount that is actually due in the shape of interest and contributions to redemption may be reduced. My hon. friend proposes to increase this to six years. That is the effect of it as far as I can understand. I would ask my hon. friend what the result of this is going to be.
The hon. member knows that an irrigation commission has been sitting and that it has reported to the Government in connection with a number of schemes, but it has not been possible during this session to introduce the necessary legislation to make provision in regard to those cases where it was recommended that relief should be given. The position is that these people at present get an extension of time of four years for payment. That time has now expired. The effect of this clause is that it will be merely extended for another two years to enable us to bring in legislation in connection with the report of the irrigation commission. It is just to have a breathing space to enable us to deal with the whole position in the light of the report of the commission which has been sitting, because the four years which the previous Government granted them is now expiring in many cases.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 16,
The directors of the Land Bank at present receive three guineas for every sitting with a maximum, as far as I can understand, of £600 per annum. If hon. members will turn to the last report of the bank they will see that in only one case have the directors earned the full amount of their fees. We had this matter before the public accounts committee, and as far as my recollection goes, we made no recommendation. Now my hon. friend has come forward and proposes to increase the maximum allowance of the directors to £750 per annum each. I think that is very liberal, especially seeing that they have not drawn the full amount in any case except one. Why we should now propose to raise the allowance to £750 rather surprises me.
The hon. member (Mr. Jagger) probably knows that especially during the last few years and last year the work of the Land Bank has expanded tremendously. Nowadays they not only have to deal with ordinary mortgage loans, but they deal with loans to co-operative societies, fencing loans, and they administer the Drought Distress Relief Act. I am informed by the managing director that for the year ended June last, one member of the board exhausted his allowance in March, and had to work to the end of June for nothing. Another member exhausted his allowance during May and had to work for nothing to the end of June. The maximum has been raised, but provision is made for a deduction of three guineas per day, for every day a member is absent. I was informed that in the public accounts committee, when the matter was before them, although they did not make a recommendation, they were not averse to this proposal. As the position is now, in the case of Mr. Hunt, who does not live in Pretoria, I understand that he is only at home on Sundays, the board sits for practically the whole week, and if a member like Mr. Hunt has to leave his home he can only be at home on Sundays. The Government does not think that the request put forward by the managing director and the board for a reconsideration of their position was unreasonable.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 18,
I think the Government are making a big mistake in regard to the purchase of the two ships. Only this morning I received a letter from a steamship agent in South Africa, stating that he had seen from the papers that the Union Government were contemplating buying more tonnage in England, which he was very sorry to see, as sooner or later this question of Government owned tonnage would make a further heavy call on the already overburdened taxpayer.
He is an agent of a steamship company.
I mention that to show that he probably knows a good deal about the subject. My hon. friend can never take a fair view.
Has he not an axe to grind?
No. This man goes on to say that if enquiry were made he thought it would be found that we are paying more freight for bringing jarrah wood sleepers from Australia than the rate which could be got in the open market. He believes he could get freight at 30 per cent. to 40 per cent. below what is being paid. He states that shipping to-day is absolutely at its worst, and that the only remedy for the present state of affairs is the laying up of tonnage. That is the position. I think it is a mistake to purchase more tonnage. I think the best way is to get rid of the shipping we have. I believe what this man says, that probably you could charter ships to bring the sleepers from Australia cheaper than we are doing it ourselves. I think you are simply wasting this £104,000.
I do not know whether I should add anything. This is a matter of railway policy, and I have taken this clause over from the Minister of Railways. The hon. member knows the position in regard to the suspense account. We do not pay for this now; but I cannot discuss the question of the advisability or otherwise of taking over these ships.
Clause put and agreed to.
Remaining clauses and the title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with one amendment, which was considered and agreed to, and the Bill, as amended, adopted, and read a third time.
Third Order read: Licences Consolidation Bill, as amended in Committee of the Whole House, to be considered.
Amendments in Clause 12, and omission of the two provisoes in item 1 of that schedule, put and agreed to.
On the substitution of new provisoes in item 1 of the first schedule,
I move, as an amendment—
Provisos, as amended, put and agreed to.
On the second schedule,
Amendments in items 1 and 2 and amendment in paragraph (1) of item 3 put and agreed to.
I hope the House will have no objection to my slightly amending my amendment to make it clearer. It is to this effect. I move—
Make it two miles.
I think five is fair. I think the House and the Minister will appreciate the fact that there is no law to prevent a doctor dispensing his own prescriptions even in Cape Town; but it is not their practice to do it. Therefore, it would seem grossly unfair, if you are taking a licence fee from the chemist to compound and dispense prescriptions, and the doctor can do that without a licence. I think the Minister ought to concede this. I do not think it is going to impose any hardship on any doctor, particularly the country doctor; because should he still choose to dispense his own prescriptions, he could do so by paying the £5 licence, the same as a chemist pays. It is a very fair amendment, and one which I hope will be agreed to.
I hope the Minister will not accept this amendment as it means a great hardship on people living in the country.. In some cases a doctor has to go 30 or 40 miles into the country to a patient and often he has a good idea of what is the matter and takes with him the necessary medicine. Under the proposed amendment he would have to say the patient must go 30 or 40 miles to the nearest chemist.
It only means that he must have a licence for it, that is all.
But he pays for a licence to practise as a doctor and it is bound to mean a hardship on people living in the country a long way from doctors and chemists.
There is another question which I hope the House will not lose sight of. Here in the Cape, doctors will have to pay two licences, one under the Bill and one under the Cape Medical and Pharmacy Act. The Cape doctor would, therefore, be penalized.
I move, as an amendment to this amendment—
Under the schedule any man carrying on another business has to have a licence. Take an auctioneer, if he goes in for another business he pays on that also. In making up his own prescription a doctor is carrying on another business for profit and therefore he should have a licence. He has no more right to carry it on without paying a licence than people in other businesses.
I point out that two licences have already to be taken out in the Cape Province and if this amendment were carried it would have to apply throughout the whole Union. Apart from that it makes the position of the medical practitioner impossible in the country district and I hope the amendment will not be accepted.
Although I seconded the amendment of my hon. friend I approve of the amendment of making it “three” instead of “five” and I hope my hon. friend can be induced to accept it. There is no hardship involved here, it is a question of the licence, and how the imposition of a licence of £5 per annum is going to stop a doctor from compounding his own medicines I cannot see. The point is he does take away a certain amount of business from an already licensed individual. You have laid it down in the schedule that where an individual carries on another business apart from his ordinary business he must pay another licence. It is not as if a medical man charges a fee for his attendance and puts the medicine in free. It is a business like everything else. They don’t go in for doctors for the fun of the thing, but I want to say there is no more honourable profession than that of a doctor.
How many chemists do that?
I know, but I am paying a tribute to the doctor. When you get to the bed-rock the doctor is in business because he makes a living out of it. There is no doubt that where a patient can pay, he would make an additional charge for the medicine. Seeing that it is only a £5 licence is it fair to the chemist that the doctor should not have this licence.. It will not close down a doctor’s business.
Apparently the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) and the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) did not catch what the Minister said. In the Cape Province the doctors already pay a licence for compounding medicine.
Then the principle is established?
It is issued in addition to the licence of £10, and now you want them to pay twice. On the Cape doctors you are imposing two laws under which he would be paying two licences for compounding medicine. Under the Cape law he can compound his medicines anywhere, but under the proposal you j would debar him from doing so when within a certain distance of a chemist, which would be absurd.
I would like the Minister to accept the amendment, but not on account of the doctor having to pay the additional licence. I support it from the safety point of view. The lives of the people are so precious that we should have a separate person compounding the medicines apart from the medical practitioner.
Does this law supersede every other provincial ordinance with regard to licences, because I understood from the Minister that it was to create uniformity.
Yes, it does supersede the other laws, but the Cape has a special Medical Act and this is not being repealed.
Amendments put and negatived.
Amendment, in item 4, put and agreed to.
On item 7,
The hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen) has an amendment on this item.
I move the amendment on his behalf, I accept it.
This amendment is to omit “£75” and to substitute “£50”.
Oh no. I am not prepared to accept that. I am prepared to accept the second portion of the amendment, but not that part reducing the amount. I move, as an unopposed motion—
I move, as an unopposed motion-
In item 9, after “Eating House Keeper…. £5” to insert “if situate in the Transkeian Native Territories or District of Glen Grey £1
This is the amount of the present licence.
I am prepared to accept the amendment and to withdraw my own.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Amendments in items 10. 11 and 12 put and agreed to.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
Amendments, in items 13 and 19, put and agreed to.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
Remaining amendments in second schedule, put and agreed to and the Bill, as amended, adopted and read a third time.
Fourth Order read: House to go into committee on the Railways Construction Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 1,
I do not think the Minister gave a very full explanation why the line should be taken from Klaver to Bitterfontein instead of to Calvinia. A rather important question was raised by the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) in taking the line from Hermon to Porterville instead of from Porterville Road. I have no objection to that serving Porterville, but why it should be taken from Hermon instead of from Porterville Road requires some explanation. I assume it was done to serve Riebeek-Kasteel and Riebeek West, but they are not very far from Hermon. Why should they want a railway right up to their doorsteps? Why should the line not have been taken direct, and thus save the construction of six miles of railway?
As regards the extension from Kokenaap to Bitterfontein it must not be forgotten that it thereby serves the whole of Namaqualand.
A very dry area.
My hon. friend has thrown some doubt on the wheat production of Namaqualand, but I wish to give him the assurance that it is not a mere surmise on the part of the board as to the possible production of wheat. Mr. du Toit, the dry land expert, estimated, I think, that it was possible, in a normal year, to produce as much as one million bags of wheat. That shows that the possibilities are very great. My hon. friend will realize that these people cannot easily transport wheat 100and more miles from Klaver. Even with that disadvantage it is admitted that the Klaver line has paid handsomely. One reason is that notwithstanding the disadvantages under which Namaqualand has suffered, its inhabitants have produced to a large extent. I hope the House will not think that because there has been a drought in Namaqualand it has one every year. The hon. member for Namaqualand (Mr. Mostert) says that the previous drought was in 1896. There are many other portions of the Union which are subject to droughts. Take Queenstown on excellent district—but it suffered last year from a drought. The rainfall in Namaqualand is low, but I trust that the fact that Namaqualand has had a great drought and much distress will not debar it from having railway facilities. We are satisfied that the development there will be very great. This year I am told they have put in wheat very extensively. I have no doubt that the developments will fully justify the construction of the line. There was just this danger, that if we had left it at Kokenaap, we might have got the traffic. Now we are carrying it out right along the main road and we are bound to get the whole of the Namaqualand traffic coming in that direction. The hon. member has also referred to the Porterville line. There we want to serve the two Riebeeks. These are two very productive areas, and my information is they are extending fruit growing and there is no question that particular area is eminently suited for fruit growing. That was the view of the board after very careful consideration. I think the board were wise in laying down that the starting point should be Hermon, and in that way we shall ensure much larger traffic. As regards fruit they want to get it into the Cape Town market, so the little additional distance will be all the benefit of the two Riebeeks, and as far as the Porterville people are concerned they will not suffer. I think under all the circumstances the board were justified in their recommendation.
I am very glad to see from sub-section (2) that the gauge for all the lines now proposed will be three feet six inches. I hope that the Government will never again build narrow gauge lines, I think it is a great pity that it happened in the past. With reference to the remark of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) about the line from Kokenaap to Bitterfontein, I am glad that the hon. Minister has decided to build the line in that way, and I am also glad that the hon. member thinks that Calvinia should have further railway development. I therefore hope when the time comes that he will assist us in connection with an extension from Ceres to Calvinia. On looking at the map one sees that that is the natural route.
I should like to draw the attention of my hon. friend to that line of railway from Martindale to Southwell, and I would like to ask him what the policy of the railway board is in connection with that line. He knows that in 1906 the Cape Parliament passed a Bill for a fine from Barkly Bridge, via Alexandria, to a point on the Kowie railway. Now I see the board and my hon. friend are suggesting a line from Martindale to Southwell. Is that a line to stay, or is it a portion of the policy of the Cape Parliament in 1906 of eventually linking up so as to give you that other coastal line? They voted that line as a line from Barkly Bridge to a point on the Kowie railway, to form a through line through the district of Peddie to East London. Have the railway board gone into the question of this being a linking up portion of a through line eventually running up to East London?
I may point out to the hon. member that he is now pleading for a railway for which no provision is made here.
I am not pleading for a railway, but I want to know before I give my vote if this is a portion of a through scheme, because as the railway is now from Martindale to Southwell it is hung up in the air. I want to know if it is intended to be a linking-up with a through scheme. The agricultural department has been going very carefully into the position of these districts and some of the experts are not satisfied with the wheat experiments at the Bathurst experimental station, but they are satisfied as to the possibilities of the Peddie district.
At the third reading the hon. member can discuss this as much as he likes.
Yes, I can discuss it, but I cannot get the answer from the Minister which I thought I was entitled to before I vote for this line. I am quite prepared to voter for this section of the railway programme so long as I know it is the intention of extending it as a through line to East London.
If the hon. member will refer to the board’s report he will see that it is stated the potentialities of the district are so great that considerable development is bound to follow. The board is of opinion that an extension of the railway from Alexandria may be necessary within a comparatively short time. The board have had the greatest difficulty in deciding whether the line should be extended from Alexandria or whether from Martindale to Southwell, and ultimately, on account of the greater development which has already taken place between Martindale and Southwell, the board came to the conclusion that it would be better to construct the section between Martindale and Southwell, leaving the linking-up between Southwell and Alexandria to a later stage.
I think the Minister might be in order in giving a further answer, whether it is intended to link up so as to fit in with the system which will give a through line from Barkly Bridge to East London.
With regard to the Klaver-Bitterfontein line, these are all pure promises. We have had them before. We were promised a tremendous development along the Zak River when the Carnarvon-Calvinia line was authorized. That line is now the worst paying line we have in the whole system. I notice this extension to the Hardeveld. That does not look very promising. I do not agree at all with my hon. friend as to the droughts. I am afraid they are much more frequent than he says. I think my hon. friend is making a mistake. We did he not take the other line and go up to the "better country. There you strike the Doorn River where there is better irrigation. When you get more to the west, against the coast, then they seem to suffer more from droughts. I am afraid this is going to be one of the non-paying lines. I think it is one of the mistakes my hon. friend is making. I think if he had taken the line from Klaver and gone more to the north it would have been a much better line, and certainly a more paying proposition.
On the question of sidings I would call the Minister’s attention to the fact that in the Addo-Kirkwood line only one mile of sidings is contemplated. It must be remembered this line will traverse a thickly-populated district. If this line is really going to serve the purpose for which it is intended it will be necessary to have sidings at frequent intervals. To have an interval of ten miles between the first and second sidings is far too great. It will be essential to have these sidings closer together in order to deal with the traffic. No reference is made to a station or siding at the end of the line.
With regard to the question of sidings, that is a matter which is dealt with by the engineer in charge of construction. As the hon. member knows the survey has been a rough one, but later on the whole question will be very closely gone into and there will be consultation with local people. He may rest assured that where they are required they will be provided. We do not want an unnecessary number of sidings, of course, but always subject to satisfactory working conditions, we are prepared to meet the public as far as we can. With regard to the Klaver-Calvinia line, I did not intend to refer to this, because it is a rather vexed question. The loss, I may tell the hon. member, would be £44,000. and that is not the worst feature, namely, that if we do construct that line, the loss of £60,000 on the Hutchinson-Calvinia line will then become about £100,000, so that I am afraid that under present circumstances we could not possibly include that line. However much I desire to include that particular line, it cannot be done. I want to say to the hon. member that it is not fair to compare the Bitterfontein with the extension from Carnarvon to Calvinia, because I think he will agree with me that the latter line should never have been built. It was the biggest mistake in railway construction ever made by the Cape Government. If you look at the map and know the country it is clear that that line should never have been built. The line should have been extended from Klaver to Calvinia. That is the natural route. Unfortunately, we are now saddled with that line, non-paying and giving us a tremendous loss.
Take it up.
My hon. friend knows how difficult that is, because there are now vested interests which have arisen around that line.
I think the question raised by the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron) is a very important one. I know the Minister cannot give any definite statement now as to where these sidings will come. In this Bill he is providing for certain sections of agricultural developmental lines. I hope it will then be the policy of my hon. friend to assist and encourage farmers to take out sidings wherever it is possible, otherwise you will never allow that railway to perform the services which it ought to perform. I hope my hon. friend will go into that question with his responsible officers and see that in laying down the line every possible facility is given to people who desire to have sidings.
I wish to support what has been said by the hon. member for East London (North) in regard to this line. I do not suppose you are constructing a line in a more intensive area than this line will traverse. I do not think there is another line that will serve so many farmers and I would like the Minister to give us some idea as to when it is proposed to commence construction. The place is going ahead rapidly and, now that they have got water from Lake Mentz, the day of sorrow has to a large extent passed and the day of hope is before them.
I am afraid that the question of the construction of this line is a matter which is very much in the hands of Parliament. As funds are provided from year to year we will be able to carry out the programme, but during the present financial year I am afraid we shall not be able to do much in the way of constructing new lines. The claims of this particular line as regards preference in construction will receive due consideration and the point raised by my hon. friend will also be borne in mind.
In reference to the question of economical construction of railways, at the present time the railway department are engaged in constructing a line from Fort Beaufort to Balfour which is now being extended to Seymour and I understand that owing to the fact that gangs are now on the line it would be much cheaper to go on with the extension to Seymour than to wait as if it were a new line. I hope my hon. friend is not going to stop at Balfour.
I would like the Minister to look carefully into the question of the charges for the construction of private sidings. I may give one instance which occurred in my own experience. I wished to construct a siding and I found that the inspection and supervision charges amounted to roughly 70 per cent. of the whole cost. That is a matter largely of office manipulation. Every facility should be given to farmers, not only in their own interests, but in the interests of railway working, to have private sidings where their trucks can be loaded without the stuff having to be put on wagons in the first instance and then transferred to the railway. I am quite sure that a very considerable reduction could be made in the cost of these sidings, which are usually constructed of second-hand material of comparatively little value to the administration otherwise. The great point I would like the Minister to look into is the supervision and inspection charges, which as a rule are out of all proportion to the total cost of the work.
I may say that the matter will be looked into from the point of view placed before the committee by the hon. member (Brig.-Gen. Byron). We cannot do without supervision charges, of course, but I shall have the matter looked into and see whether we can make some reduction without loss to the department. In regard to the matter raised by the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), I very largely agree with him and I do not expect there will be any difficulty. If we can find the money I think we shall be able to do what he suggested, because it will certainly assist in the economical construction of the line.
Clause put and agreed to.
Remaining clauses, schedule and title put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
I move, as an opposed motion—That the Bill be now read a third time.
Before we leave this Bill I just want to say finally that my constituency is bitterly disappointed that they are not included in the Bill. Only this morning I received a telegram from a farmers’ association in my constituency asking me if it is not possible that there may be a chance of a deputation seeing the Minister about an amendment being incorporated to provide for the railway from Villiersdorp to Worcester. It seems to me that I have to take alone the last opportunity of expressing my disappointment. I am sorry that I cannot add my thanks to those who have got railways. We must not make comparisons, but there is no question that this line would have a great effect on the development along agricultural lines in South Africa.
I regret that the hon. member cannot now discuss the line.
I just wish to express my disappointment and appeal to the Minister to see whether anything cannot still be done.
I would like to take this opportunity of congratulating the members of the fortunate districts which have got railways, and to bespeak a little sympathy for my constituency that has been left out in the cold. The East London-Peddie line—
Is that not one of the lines that has been discussed?
I do not think it has been mentioned even. I hope it will loom large in the next construction Bill. Peddie was established over a century ago.
I am informed that this line was one of those included in the motion and amendments discussed some months ago.
I am sorry, but I do not think it could have received adequate discussion.
I do not know if it will be any consolation to hon. members; but there are four Cabinet Ministers in the same position as the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) and the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron). Even the Prime Minister, unfortunately, is among the disappointed members. I am glad that, in dealing with this matter, there has been a general consensus of opinion that, in the recommendations of the Railway Board, they have considered the interests of the Union as a whole.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a third time.
Fifth Order read: House to go into Committee on the South Africa Act, 1909. Further Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 1.
I do not want to take up the time of the committee with the discussion of this clause, but I would suggest to the Prime Minister that he ought not to put the Bill through in the last hours of the session. It is really a very important matter and not one to be dealt with so lightly. I understood, from the speech of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs during the second reading debate, that the difficulty arises mostly from the double portfolio held by the Minister of Labour and Defence.
A new department.
That owing to that combination of the heavy duties thrown on that particular Minister, he was physically and mentally unable to cope with the work, and had been on the verge of a breakdown more than once. If that is so, surely the matter can be dealt with by the Minister, through a rearrangement of the portfolios. Even in the interim, it may be sufficient to take that step, and let us have a proper and full discussion of this matter next session. I think, to force it through, in the last hours of the session when we have no time to give to this very important question, is not doing the country a service. I would strongly suggest to the Prime Minister not to go on with this Bill; but to meet the situation which has arisen in the Cabinet, through some temporary change and re-shuffling of portfolios, if the necessity does really exist. To make a permanent change like this is in my opinion, to do something not in the public interests, and which the Prime Minister may afterwards regret. In my opinion, ten Ministers are sufficient. Some of the portfolios are very light; some are very heavy; but the heaviest is the Prime Minister’s. How he does the work I do not know. How other Ministers can have the face to complain, when I know the work the Prime Minister has to do, passes my comprehension. The work of the Prime Minister is sufficient to tax the energy of the hardest working man in the Cabinet. In addition, he has the most responsible portfolio, which requires very close watching of the most important situation in South Africa. It is not proposed to deal with that at all; at is proposed to deal with something quite different, namely, this new Department of Labour and its combination with Defence. I think that is a situation which could be dealt with through some re-arrangement, and if we have to do it—I do not consider it necessary—this question of increased number of portfolios can be discussed fully on its merits next session. It is not fair to the House, or the other branch of the legislature to go on with this Bill at this stage of the session. The other House have a lot of Bills flung at them at the last moments of the session, and a far-reaching departure like this, an important alteration of the South Africa Act, should not be dealt with in this manner. We must look on the South Africa Act as a serious document. Some of the details are not important; but this is not a matter of detail, but of principle which was very fully thrashed out in the National Convention, and I hope we will not, in this slipshod method, in the last days of the session, push this measure through.
I must say that I differ entirely from the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) nor do I think he is really serious. It is very clear to me that in the first place in regard to the point whether there should be ten or eleven Ministers, it is not so complicated that we should let it stand over and have an entirely new discussion thereon next session. I think that my hon. friend will agree with me that that is a little ridiculous. There is nothing fundamental in the question whether there should be two, ten or twenty Ministers. The number ten was at the time laid down in the constitution because the framers thought that the business to be done could be properly carried out by ten Ministers. I say there is nothing fundamental in the number. The number there should be must always depend on the business the number of persons have to do and whether the number is sufficient to properly perform the business. I say that as regards the point of the sufficiency of the number ten there can be no doubt that the Ministers to-day are not able to properly fulfil their work and duties. Nor have I the least doubt that the former Government felt that as well and if they did not feel it then I can give the hon. member for Standerton the assurance that we felt it several times at that time. How Ministers sat there some times with business that they knew practically nothing about! In the second place I that I feel the necessity for the appointment of an eleventh Minister very clearly. But now comes the hon. member for Standerton, and says that the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs said that it was only a question of relieving the Minister of Defence. There is not the least doubt that the portfolio of labour will mean something in the country. It has been instituted with the view to the need that is felt for the portfolio, and the portfolio if properly held is going to be of great weight and meaning to South Africa. I say again that if the portfolio had existed sooner we should have had less of the unpleasantness in the past, but we must have somebody who does the work as it should be done. Now I just want to point out to the hon. leader of the Opposition that the question of how the portfolios are to be distributed, how the business of the Government must be distributed over the various portfolios, is, with all respect, not the business either of him or of anyone else in the Opposition, to dictate to the Government about in this manner.
No, of course not.
That it is something which must be left in the hands of the Government of the country. In so far then as the remark of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs is concerned there does not remain the least doubt that the portfolio is in the first place intended to make provision for the business connected with the department of labour. Well, what should be done further is a matter—as the hon. member for Standerton has himself admitted—which must be considered by the Ministry. I say again that the whole question is whether it is necessary or not. Now the hon. member for Standerton says that the work of the Prime Minister is very comprehensive. I admit that the work is of such a nature that in the long run it cannot be properly carried out. But this does not take away from the fact that precisely by the appointment of the eleventh Minister no great relief can be given to the Prime Minister and that certain duties from time to time cannot be taken from him and put on the shoulders of one of the other Ministers. My hon. friend knows that he often had to resort to that. He knows how often he had for long periods to hand over the portfolio of native affairs, so that we at times did not know whether it was held by him or by the Minister of Mines. It was not his fault. But his duties and absence simply made it necessary. And let me say this that taken by itself that is not a satisfactory way of conducting the affairs of the native affairs department. I must honestly say that I would hesitate a great deal before I would hand over the duties connected with the portfolio of native affairs to anyone else, because we saw in the past and we feel that if there is one department where the people viz., the natives, should feel that they know where they are at home, and should be at home, and who is placed over them, then it is the department of native affairs. But let me add this: I hope that we have arrived at the time where we will accomplish something as regards the whole native question—which incontrovertibly has been all these years in the melting pot—and I hope that we shall be able to do something next year to attain to something which will be more lasting and more final as regards the dealing with the coloured people problem as such. As soon as that happens the time will also have come I think which to-day has not yet come to consider the whole question with regard to the portfolio of native affairs, and whether it is to remain under the Prime Minister as I think is generally felt, I think even by the natives themselves. Then we can see whether the necessary arrangement cannot be made to lighten the duties of the Prime Minister and to put the continuity of the carrying on of all matters connected with the portfolio of native affairs on a proper basis. I appreciate what the hon. member for Standerton has said about the duties of the Prime Minister. He is quite right when he says that there is a great deal of work, but to-day the question is to provide for an eleventh Minister, and I do not think it is unreasonable to come to the House to-day before the House is dissolved to ask for an eleventh Minister who can give the necessary help to perform the duties.
To be perfectly frank we cannot help feeling that this Bill is an expedient. I hope I am not going to say anything to hurt the feelings of the Prime Minister. The real origin of the Bill is not simply to provide an extra Minister to deal with labour, but is to furnish another billet—I don’t want to use the word “job”—that is the feeling we have about the Bill.
That is your suspicion.
I think we have plenty of ground for suspicion—it is our conviction. Why is the Bill introduced in the last few days of the session? Has it taken all this time to find out that the Minister of Labour is overworked? This work was done in the last Ministry by Mr. F. S. Malan, who also held the portfolio of Mines and Industries. We have gone on with the whole of the session, when the heaviest work falls on a Minister, and the need for an additional Minister is only discovered at the end of the session. That in itself throws suspicion on the proposal. A thing like this has to be very carefully considered. If there is one member of the Cabinet who is overworked, it is the Prime Minister himself, for he has to supervise the whole of the work of the Cabinet, and look after the department of native affairs, and this is more than one man can do. There is another point. Take the department of irrigation. That has been knocked about from one Minister to another. It has now been put into the hands of the Minister of Justice, for whose abilities I have great respect, but he is not exactly cut out by experience to be a Minister of Irrigation. I presume he is keeping it as a sort of stop-gap. This shows that remedies could have been found for the time being. The subject has not been fully considered. Hon. members opposite cannot be surprised if we are suspicious. The Prime Minister should not have simply come forward with a proposition to relieve one Minister when we know that there are one or two other Ministers who are just as hard worked as the Minister whose duties are to be lessened. Why should one Minister be relieved of a portion of his work and not the other?
This is a new department.
Why does not the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs take over the job himself? The Minister of Posts and Telegraphs under the late Government took over other ministerial posts when members of the Cabinet were away. The present Minister of Posts and Telegraphs seems to be a perfect glutton for work; why cannot he take over the task? We cannot help hearing things that are being said. My hon. friend, the Prime Minister, used to be very great on getting the opinion of the country. This is an alteration of the Constitution. Why did not the Prime Minister bring the matter before the country some time since and let the country have something to say on it? He cannot expect us to agree to the Bill going through this session; at any rate we have to raise a protest. I should like to know the Minister of Finance’s real opinion on the statement that this proposal is going to reduce expenditure.
He has escaped.
Exactly. If he could the Minister of Finance would put his foot on the proposal from a financial point of view, for at present he has eight Ministers pulling at him for money, and every Minister goes out for spending as much money as he can get from the Treasury. The Minister of Finance has not succeeded, as I should have liked to have seen him succeed, in resisting their demands. Now another gentleman will come along who will want to justify his existence by spending money. I have no hesitation in saying that the appointment of an extra Minister will mean in the long run increased expenditure. I strongly support the appeal of the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) that the proposal should stand over. It is not right to ask us to pass the Bill at this late stage of the session.
Of course Ministers are overworked—look at the Order Paper. Here we are within a few days of the end of the session, and 36 items are not disposed of. Ministers attempt too much—they would be better advised if they hastened slowly. It is obviously impossible to put wisely conceived legislation on the statute book in such a hurry as the Ministers are attempting to do. There is another point that appeals to the man-in-the-street, and that is the extra expense incurred by every extra portfolio. Not only will there be the salary of the new Minister, but he will also require a staff of secretaries, typists, and so on. There would have been less objection to the proposal if the Prime Minister had said: “We require that extra Minister, but we will divide the total remuneration received by the Cabinet—£26,000 a year—amongst 11 members, instead of 10 as at present.” That would give each Minister £2,250 a year, which would have kept them comfortably under the super-tax limit. The arguments that have been advanced in support of the Bill have not been very convincing. I wish this country could have a legislative holiday for at least five years, passing nothing, but the necessary financial measures. We are attempting too much, and legislation is being adopted which the Ministers have not had time to consider. Some of the Ministers are not thoroughly acquainted with certain of their own proposals. An eleventh Minister will mean yet more congestion on the Order Paper, for he will not only have to justify his existence by asking for more money, but also by putting measures on the statute book, or attempting to do so. The country at large will greatly object to this extra expense.
Just a few words about this section. I am a little disappointed to hear the Prime Minister say that it is not a matter of great importance when we amend the Constitution. Permit me to tell the hon. the Prime Minister that the people outside attach great importance to the matter when it means an alteration of the Constitution, and here is undoubtedly a radical alteration of the Constitution is being made. The people also attach great importance to it when it inevitably will lead to greater expenditure. The shuffling of portfolios is in the hands of the Government. But when the Government resolves to create a new portfolio then the House of Assembly has a full right to express its opinion about the matter. If a change had to come, then the Department of Labour could be joined on to that of Posts and Telegraphs. This department works almost automatically. The Minister understands labour affairs and can easily take over that work. I am sorry that this Bill has been introduced, speaking from the point of view of the financial condition of the country, and I am also sorry that such an important Bill is laid before us during the last stage of the session.
Business suspended at 12.45 p.m. and resumed at 2.20 p.m.
I must say that I am very sorry that the hon. the Prime Minister has now introduced this Bill for the creation of an eleventh Minister. It seems to me that we treat the matter of an alteration in the constitution much too lightly especially when it appears that it is not absolutely necessary. When I think of the arguments that have been used here then I really do not think that there was anything convincing in them. The discussion has only been about the past that then the ten Ministers could not properly do their work and that mistakes were accordingly made. But that is a general accusation and it is still a question whether it was so. On the other hand it is said that too much money is being spent and there should be greater economy, but I do not really know in what way the present Government have practised economy. In this case they go much further and propose an increase of expenditure, of great expenditure. If it is so that the ten men we had in the past were not sufficiently capable to do the work then the new Government surely had an opportunity of selecting ten clever men because they had the privilege choosing from two parties.
We have them.
Well, admitting that they have ten capable men then there surely must be one of them who can take two portfolios on himself. The only point that has been brought out was that mentioned by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs when he said that the Minister of Labour could not do his work, that he assisted him and had to help the poor Minister of Defence. He told us that he had practically had to hold a protecting hand over the Minister of Defence and had to help him otherwise the Minister of Labour would have long since had a nervous break down. I thought of Aaron, how he had to support the arm of Moses, when the Minister of Posts told us how he had to help the Minister of Defence during the past twelve months. I hope the hon. Minister of Defence will understand me and I should like him to reply as to whether he really had such a difficult time as the Minister of Posts has said, and that it was necessary for the Minister of Posts to assist him otherwise he would long since have had an attack of nerves. I shall be glad to hear from the Minister of Defence whether he actually finds it impossible to fill the two posts. I mention this because this is the only case that has been referred to where a Minister has had a hard time. Then I should like to ask the hon. the Prime Minister if there is not one or other of the Ministers who is sufficiently capable to relieve the Minister of Defence. We know that one Minister works very easily while another works with great difficulty. But yet there will surely be one among the ten Ministers who will say that he can relieve the Minister of Defence of one of his departments. What troubles me is that no facts have been brought to light that proves that this step is necessary. There are fairly strong rumours about this matter in circulation and they made me think of the beggar who comes to the house with a, button and asks someone to sew a pair of trousers on to it. It seems to me that that is the case here. It is not that there is work and a man must be found, but there is a man and now work has to be found. I ask if that is fair? We cannot sufficiently regret that recently a line has been taken in political affairs which reminds me of David. David was in the cave of Adullam and to him came all the people who were discontented and in difficulties and he became the leader of the people. [Time expired.]
In moving the motion on the paper, viz.—
- 1. Notwithstanding anything contained in section 14 of the South Africa Act, 1909, the Governor-General may appoint two Ministers, in addition to the number mentioned in that section, at a salary in the case of each such additional Minister of twelve hundred and fifty pounds per annum.
I want to point out that if ten Ministers were necessary in 1910 more Ministers are necessary to-day. If we take the number of Ministers in Britain ten or twelve years ago compared with the number to which they have increased to-day one comes to the conclusion that something should be done, but not at this last moment of the session. You have a Minister for Agriculture and separate Ministers for other departments; surely commerce should have a Minister of its own? Then I come to the Prime Minister’s department. I submit that the responsible Minister as the head of the affairs of this country, should be relieved so far as native affairs are concerned. We have a big problem in dealing with all our natives, and that problem must be faced. I suggest that the Minister might take time and have a committee which could lay down what is actually required. These extra Ministers need not be members of the Cabinet. The position would be this, that while the Premier would be responsible for the policy of the Native Affair department—and rightly so—the executive work would fall upon his associate Minister or his assistant Minister. I think I can recall the Minister of Labour when he was on the cross benches, crying out that the work was too much; that there should be more people to do it, and that there should be assistant secretaries. Why did he not take the opportunity of getting these things expressed in this Bill? When are is said and done, they are correct views. I submit, under these circumstances, the Minister ought to have taken the opportunity, with tile responsible position he is in now, to see that these secretaries were brought in. Another question is this. When we come to deal with this question of Ministers surely no hon. member will say that all Ministers have equal responsibility. Never mind the question of ability or non-ability. I submit that if the Prime Minister had brought in a Bill for seven Ministers or seven assistant secretaries, the whole thing would have been met. There could be a reshuffling of the whole position. I would suggest, sincerely, that the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, with his experience, would be most successful in dealing with the Labour department. It would be easier to hand over Posts and Telegraphs to an under secretary. [Time expired.]
As the hon. member has alluded to my remarks, I may say he is perfectly correct in his recollection of my views. It is particularly apropos of this Bill. Hon. members opposite will recollect that the views I held when in Opposition are the same as I hold now: that it has always appeared to me Ministers were perforce too deeply immersed in the details of administration to have that comparative leisure in which they could exercise their more particularly Ministerial functions in guiding the policy of the country. Since 1910 undoubtedly the weight on Ministers has been an increasing one. We have had public health, defence, and a number of other portfolios created since that date. Labour is the most recent. I would just ask hon. members on the front bench opposite if I am not right in saying that the position is that Ministers have either got to retire into the background, so to speak, and merely supervise their departments, or if they are really going to enter into the details they will perforce be deprived of the necessary time and brain energy to be able to devote themselves to really constructive and long-sighted matters of policy in this country. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) put in a strong plea on the ground of economy—precisely on the same grounds that I justify this present measure. The public expenditure goes on mounting up like a snowball.
That is very true.
It is, but is it necessarily going to be increased, or is it not more likely to be lessened if you have sufficient supervision to see that the utmost and most rigid economy is observed? In his own business, as it expands, does he look upon it as a piece of extravagance when a new department is set up to see that he has a sufficient number of persons to look after that department? I think he will agree with me that Ministers nominally in a position of complete control cannot rightly exercise that control if it be spread over a number of portfolios and departments. Personally I look upon this as a measure of economy. In reply to the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw), who spoke about the National Convention, since that convention sat, if he will go over the estimates, and look at the number of portfolios that have been added, he will see it is time we abandoned the rigidity of that ten. The hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) spoke of parliamentary under-secretaries and what I advocated in that connection. I do not know that my personal views have changed, but the conclusion we have come to at the moment is this present measure. At some future time I believe the question of assistant Ministers will have to be considered. In Great Britain, in the development of Cabinet Government, one of the things that has taken place in our generation has been the very considerable increase in the Cabinet, and the consequently greater difficulty of establishing and maintaining the joint responsibility. If you compare the Cabinets of days when we were young men with the Cabinets of to-day, you will find that the number of Cabinet posts has been greatly increased. During the great war, when the direction of policy had to be concentrated into a few hands, it was found necessary to set up for the time being a quite new institution a War Cabinet. That another Minister is amply justified by the work which has to be done is a matter which I think hon. members opposite who have had Cabinet experience would candidly admit. If you maintain the old position, either Ministers are not really directing the policy of their departments and they are leaving practically the whole direction to the permanent civil service, or else they are really trying to direct the policy of these departments they have not got time, and there is no real possibility of that sufficient consultation between Ministers to prevent the whole machine sinking simply into a number of water-tight compartments. I would ask the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) can he fairly deny that? If the work is to be done properly it must not be confined to the few shoulders that it is confined to. Some remarks have been made about the Department of Labour and the amount of work that has had to be done there. With the amount of legislation that the Minister of Mines and Industries has had to prepare, I am amazed that he has been able to stand the strain. I flunk that is the case with other Ministers.
You attempt too much legislation.
I don’t think it is a question of attempting too much legislation. The actual work during this session has been confined to a few Bills, but while that is going on, you have also got to keep your touch with the actual administration of the country, and the fact that you have your legislative capital in one place and your administrative capital 1,000 miles away adds to your difficulties. I maintain that the provision made in this Bill is necessary at the moment.
Every day and in every way you grow better and better to carry on your work.
I do not know whether the hon. member means to imply that we are not competent to carry out our work, but I think the public will not say that we have shown ourselves incompetent to do our work.
I said every day and in every way you grow Better and better.
. It is so difficult for the hon. member to take anything seriously in this House. I claim this from the hon. members opposite, that what I am saying now is precisely the same thing and has exactly the same principle behind it as what I so often said when I was in opposition.
One gets many surprises in political life, but I always thought the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) was a gentleman who would have been prepared to pay the standard rate of wages to all his employees. Under this amendment, however, he is actually advocating the introduction of scab cheap labour into the Ministry. There seems to be something very artificial about the opposition to this measure. The hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) lays the credit, shall I call it, for the introduction of this Bill at the door of the Labour party. That is in marked contrast to what he gave expression to at the S.A. party congress at Bethlehem in the latter months of last year when, speaking of the Labour party, he said that, following the custom of people growing old, they had bought a plot in the cemetry and were thinking of digging their grave. Now if the Labourites have been responsible for initiating what is contained in this Bill, I feel that our party is very much alive indeed. The hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron) tells the House that what is needed is a legislative holiday for at least five years. At this last stage of the session, if I may presume to give advice to the hon. member, it would be that we should get on with the business and let us have at least five months holiday from this House.
I disagree entirely with my hon. friend the Minister of Defence. This matter, I think, is very largely a matter of organization. The mistake Ministers make—I think Ministers generally—certainly the present Ministers, is that they go too much into detail. When I was Minister of Railways I had to decide certain things which were, to my mind, largely matters of detail. That is carried right through. I am perfectly certain if Ministers were to leave matters of detail, matters of routine especially, which involve no questions of policy, to the heads of departments—and my hon. friend has certainly an extremely capable head in his labour department and I think the heads of departments generally are an able set of men—they would have ample time to deal simply with matters of policy. The reason for this hard work that my hon. friend has to do is that he deals too much with details. Why can’t he divest himself of that to a large extent and leave it to the heads? There is no business man, no head of a big concern, who would worry with the details that Ministers have got to worry with in their offices. They must trust and they can safely trust a lot of these things to the heads of departments who as far as my experience goes, are an able and conscientious lot of men. So I do not think my hon. friend has really made out a case for this change.
What my hon. friend (Mr. Jagger) has said is obviously the A.B.C. of organization. Right through the public service I contend that there is a great deal too much detail and, while broad questions of policy are undoubtedly a ministerial business, no one knows better than the hon. member himself how policy depends to a very large extent upon the detailed application of that policy. You cannot by the mere coining of little copybook headings in matters of organization, divest yourself entirely of all knowledge of details, without grave risk of your best laid plans going agley in administration.
You have got to get better men, that is all.
I agree with my hon. friend that the public service and the heads are a body of very talented persons, but after all the most talented man, if he has been in a groove under a ministerial direction of one colour for a long time—acquires habits of dealing with detailed matters which are perfectly in accordance with and in tune with the ministers of one particular attitude, but may require very careful supervision when you have ministers of another political attitude succeeding them.
I don’t think it makes all that difference.
I cannot understand why so much is being said about this Bill. I am sorry that we cannot continue another year without the eleventh Minister. I think the people expected that we would economize as much as possible. But the Prime Minister said to the people at the recent election that a department of labour would be established. Well I do not know how one can create one department after the other and not appoint a Minister for it. If the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) had come into power then we should have been in the same position with an eleventh Minister. He said that he would appoint a Minister of Trades and Industries with a new portfolio if he came into power. As one of those who have pleaded for economy I agree with everything that the Prime Minister has said with reference to the eleventh Minister. The people trust the Prime Minister and the Government must do its best to show that it deserves that trust. I do not doubt, but that the Minister will do so. On the appointment of the eleventh Minister I want to urge the Government as much as possible to appoint officers in his department so that there will not be any further great expenditure connected with new officials. The people feel that we must economize in the Government of the country because the cost of administration is too onerous for the country. That was the chief mandate from the country to the Government. The hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) has said that he did not know that I was an applicant. Did he mean for a portfolio? I never thought that he would do me that honour. I am sitting here on account of the injustice that was done to the Prime Minister when he was put out of the Cabinet by the S.A.P. We picked up the glove and we have won! I do not sit here to look for “jobs.” If I wanted a job then I would not have sat on this side of the House. I should have sat over there with the S.A.P. I still remember how I was insulted by the S.A.P. in 1915 because I would not follow them. I am sitting here in the true interests of the people and when I come to sit here for a job I hope that my conscience will induce me to resign as a member of Parliament.
A great deal has been said about this matter, but I feel that if I remain seated I shall not be doing my duty towards those who have sent me here. I also have constituents and I cannot permit that such an amount should be wasted in this way as is now proposed. The hon. member for Albert (Mr. Steytler) has spoken for the whole people. I wonder when he got that mandate.
On the 17th June.
What about the instruction that on the night of the election all was over with the Pact? I really never felt more sorry for my hon. friends opposite. The hon. member for Albert said that they can get on without the Labour party. To-day he is being used to carry out the will of the Labour party and to appoint an eleventh Minister. The hon. member for Frankfort (Mr. J. B. Wessels) has tried to be funny and he has mentioned the story about Sannie. He could not speak with sufficient contempt about the previous Government. He said that they could do the work with six men. He has not remembered that the Cabinet was formed on a Sunday, the Labour party decided the question whether they would join the Cabinet or not on a Sunday.
When was Jopie Fourie shot?
Leave the old stories alone now. It seems to me that the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) has also got his hand in the appointment of an eleventh Minister. We can remember how at a congress in the Free State he said that the Minister of Labour could be kicked out of his post. Let us talk seriously about the matter. Why has the hon. the Prime Minister introduced such a measure at the end of the sitting? It was not necessary. The old Government never altered the constitution except on a few small points. In the first session of this Parliament there has three times been a proposal before the House to alter the constitution. This time it is quite unnecessary. If it were only merely the appointment of a Minister. But what about the lot of officials for the Minister?
They are all ready and waiting.
The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Fourie) has also already got a job. He has also been appointed. I thought that enough jobs had been given out now. But it looks as if there are more people for whom a job has to be made.
Possibly appointments as elders also?
I am not ashamed of being an elder. I regard it as an honour, and that is why I continue in the office. The hon. member for Vredefort (Mr. Munnik) must understand that I will not joke with religion, and he must not do it either.
I do not do so either.
I have come to the conclusion that this motion now before the House is undesirable. The parties to-day in power are not fulfilling the promise they made to the people to economise. In the case of all the legislation which we have now had before the House a number of officials have to be appointed. I am obliged on behalf of my constituents to lodge a protest although I am afraid I am like a voice crying in the wilderness. I do not agree with the Bill.
I did not intend to take part in the discussion, but the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Geldenhuys) has behaved very comically here. He has forgotten that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. He has reproached us that this Government was formed on a Sunday. I will ask him a counter-question. Will he deny that Jopie Fourie was shot on a Sunday, and that it was done by the former Government and his party? That was a much more serious act. My hon. friends opposite object so strongly to an appointment of an eleventh Minister. The Prime Minister has made it very clear why he is doing so. He has shown that the business of the Union has so tremendously increased that with the best will in the world it is impossible to deal with the Union administration in a proper way. The fact that the present Government found the country in the condition in which it was is proof enough that ten men cannot do the work. Then we must also remember that the former Ministers bothered very little about their duties and drove about the country to make electioneering speeches.
What about Klerksdorp?
I wish to assure my friends opposite that they will not take me off my point. The old Ministers had enough work if they only wanted to do their duties, they acted as election agents and even went overseas to become members of the war cabinet and left the werk in South Africa to officials. If the Ministers had given their attention more to the affairs of this country we should not have had the scandals such as that in connection with grain elevators. I want to be fair to the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) it was before his time, but he will agree that his predecessor was guilty of the grossest negligence. He followed the officials blindly, and the consequence was that we lost £500,000. My hon. friends opposite, and especially the hon. member for Johannesburg (North), want to persuade the House that this eleventh portfolio is being created to make jobs for members on this side of the House. I will give hon. members opposite the assurance that we shall have to continue in office a long time if we want to make as many appointments as the former Government. It has been found necessary to make certain appointments, but I challenge them to lay the finger upon any person who has been appointed that is incompetent. I will on the other hand give the assurance to the other side of the House that this Government intends to economise where possible. That has already been done in the past. If there had been an eleventh Minister in the past there would possibly not have been a million deficit. Everything was left to the officials. That is a fact and the Opposition cannot deny it. The less hon. members opposite speak about this matter the less they will show the country how little they know of affairs.
I am very sorry that the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) cannot avoid mentioning a thing which we could have allowed to rest.
I was speaking about Sunday.
Those things should no longer be brought up here in the House.
You threw mud.
I am standing here as a representative of the people. The Government comes here to-day to alter the constitution. In one session the constitution has now been altered three times. What will be the consequence, if we go on with these alterations? Just as soon as they want to do anything they alter the constitution.
On what two other occasions was the constitution altered.
The Minister of Labour walked into his office with a blank cheque and the result is that now after a year we find that the department has caused an expenditure of £362,656. Now a further Minister is to be appointed. What is going to be the result when once the officials for this department have also been appointed?
They are all ready.
Will the new Minister be satisfied with the kind of work that is being done? Hon. members must not take it amiss that we discuss these matters. It is our duty as Opposition to point them out to the people. Why appoint an eleventh Minister? I say that if the duties are properly distributed it will not be necessary to appoint an eleventh Minister. The departments are now divided up in that way. Take the department of the hon. the Prime Minister, he also has a department of native affairs. That is why he has not asked a new minister for that department. No, it must be the Minister of Labour. But a Minister who is competent will not go and ask for help. I will not say that the Minister is not competent. But it appears from what was said by the hon. Minister of Posts and Telegraphs that the Minister of Labour cannot do all the work. Why then does he not take the department over? We know that the postal and telegraph department is an automatic piece of machinery and runs easily, and there is not much work for the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs to do. Cannot the Minister of Posts take over the department? Then I just want to point out to the Minister of Finance that we have not yet voted the money for the eleventh Minister. So the Minister is to be paid without the money being voted by Parliament and the following year the Government will come and pass an Act authorizing it. I say that as we have spent an amount of £3,000,000 more than in the past year we should economise where we can. The people want economy. That is, the great point on which the South African party were defeated. Look at the Minister of Mines and Industries he has got the Departments of Mines and Industries under him. He has plenty of work, but a capable man can do the work. Why now the eleventh Minister? What will not the expenditure be as the result of the appointment of a new Minister, I should very much like to hear that from the Minister of Finance.
The hon. member who has just sat down said that this Government had no less than three times altered the constitution—that sacred document. How often did he and his party then support the alteration? The alteration regarding Afrikaans was supported by them and the other with regard to the incorporation of God’s name was also supported by them. Now he wants to create the idea—he will require help to make a good impression—as if we are only out to break the constitution. To me it is not such a sacred document that we cannot alter it. Then hon. members opposite talk about new posts and the waste of money. If there ever was a government that sinned in that respect it was the former Government. That is one of the reasons why the former Government was put out and will never again come into power. I think of the thousands that they spent on medals for natives. There is the £145,000 and more for Morley’s hotel, etc. I will not go into the merits of this appointment. The Prime Minister has pointed them out. It seems to me that no speech in this House has ever made such an impression on the older members at the back as the other day when I told my love story. It makes me think of the proverb. “An old goat that wants a young leaf.” When I said that there was some life and when I got to Sannie it made me think of “yesterday’s joint can be warmed up to-day.” It is natural, quite natural, but I did not think that it would be appreciated so much. But there is something else. The hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Geldenhuys) is always so insistent that we should not poke fun at the bible. I agree with him, but why did not he attack the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) when he made fun of the twelve apostles?
I did not make fun.
It was ironical language. The manner in which it was said proved it. He should rather blame one of his leaders when they joke about such things.
The bottom of the protest is that hon. members do not wish Ministers to be free to think about the problems of State which affect the country. Our Government is supposed to be a democratic Government—a Government of the people, by the people, for the people. For the last 14 years it has not been a democratic Government, but a burocratic Government by head officials of the State. Whilst Ministers were going about the country making speeches, officials were governing the country.
What about Klerksdorp?
I know nothing about Klerksdorp except that you got a hiding there last election. For the last 14 years it has been a Government by bureaucracy. I hope the head officials of the State will take note of what the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) thinks of them. Not many months ago there was a meeting of the right hon. gentleman and his friends at Pretoria, and the hon. member for Standerton is reported to have stated—
Now, I have a weak spot for my hon. friend.
That is not the only weak spot you have got.
And you feel the rope round your neck now.
Why did he say it? Because he said—
It is false.
The head officials would be sorry to hear a statement like this, but it happened to be true.
He has denied it.
I have denied.
Have you denied the letter you wrote about the Jewish emigration?
That has nothing to do with the vote.
I have nothing to withdraw. The reason they object to the eleventh Minister is because they do not want further assistance to come to my hon. friends.
There has been a great deal of dissatisfaction about this matter and I must make a few observations on what has been said by hon. members opposite and especially in connection with what the hon. Minister of Posts and Telegraphs has said. To justify the appointment of an eleventh Minister he said that his colleague the Minister of Defence is now overworked, he must have help. I will just ask the hon. Minister whether they did not know when they were fighting the previous Government that the Government benches brought a great deal of responsibility? Now they are sitting on the opposite side they are getting ill. I think that they are quite inconsistent. If somebody fights for a thing then he must know whether he can last out. The hon. Minister of Defence has now lost his nerve, he is sick unto death, and now another Minister has to be appointed to help him. There sits the Minister of Posts opposite, fat as, butter, but they must think a little of the taxpayer who has to pay the money to allow them to live that pleasant life. The hon. member for Frankfort (Mr. J. B. Wessels) now gets up and talks about maintaining the honour of the House. But he makes it still worse than he did the other night. The hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) now digs up an old occurrence which I think anyone ought to feel ashamed to drag across the floor of the House again. Jopie Fourie was related to me. I knew him well, but why did he get into those circumstances? Is not the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) one of the causes of those circumstances? I most strongly disaprove of that subject being brought up this afternoon. The hon. member for Albert was also quite wrong. No, the whole people do not agree with this matter. He declared himself at one moment in favour of economy and says that the Government was sent here to economize, but then he turns to the cross benches, and for the sake of the cross benches he says that it is necessary. Hon. members opposite accuse us that our Ministers in the past took part in elections. That is true. They did fight in elections, but though they did that, what is the present Government doing? In the Klerksdorp election three Ministers took part. Then they talk about our Ministers going to England and the fact that they had a Minister in the Cabinet there. The result of that is that we are to-day a free people.
Clause put, and Col.-Cdt. Collins called for a division.
Upon which the committee divided:
Bergh, P. A.
Beyers, F. W.
Brink, G. F.
Brits, G. P.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conroy, E. A.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I. E.
De Villiers, P. C.
De Villiers, W. B.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fourie, A. P. J.
Hattingh, B. R.
Hay, G. A.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Heyns, J. D.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Keyter, J. G.
Madeley, W. B.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, M. L.
McMenamin, J. J.
Moll, H. H.
Mostert, J. P.
Naudé, A. S.
Pienaar, J. J.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Raubenheimer, I. van W.
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 Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Rensburg, J. J.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Visser, T. C.
Waterston, R. B.
Werth, A. J.
Wessels, J. B.
Tellers: Pienaar, B. J.; Vermooten, O. S.
Byron, J. J.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Collins, W. R.
Gilson, L. D.
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.
O’Brien, W. J.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Rider, W W.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Smuts, J. C.
Struben, R. H.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Van Zyl, G. B.
Tellers: de Jager, A. L.; Robinson, C. P.
Clause accordingly agreed to.
Clause 2 and the title put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; third reading to-morrow.
Sixth Order read: Second reading,—Merchant Shipping (Certificates of Competency) Bill.
In moving the second reading of this Bill it would be as well if at the outset I just emphasized one or two of the important features, chiefly the main purpose of the Bill, and secondly, the reason why it is necessary it should be passed during the present session. The main purpose of this Bill is to make it possible for South Africans who have adopted the sea as their calling, to sit for examinations in this country, and to qualify in order to obtain certificates of competency as masters, mates or engineers. The position to-day as far as this country is concerned is very unsatisfactory. The last few years have seen a rapid increase in the number of South Africans who have taken up the sea as their calling, and those who have wanted to qualify have not been able to do so in this country. They have had to go to the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand. It is in order to remedy this state of affairs that this Bill is introduced at this stage for the purpose of setting up the necessary machinery which will enable South Africans to get their certificates in this country. It may be asked why is it so urgent and why is it necessary to bring it forward this session. It is brought forward now for this reason, that at the present time there are over 100 of the boys who received their training on the training ship “General Botha”; these boys are at sea, most of them in the mercantile marine, having been taken on by different companies trading to and from South Africa, and they are engaged in completing their deep sea training A number of these boys will have completed their deep sea training during the early part of next year, and when that time arrives many of these boys desire to sit for their examination as second mates and so on. Unless this Bill is passed this session, I am afraid these boys will either have to put off their examinations or of necessity have to go to one or other of the dominions or to the United Kingdom. Quite recently, I am told, South Africans have gone to the dominions and overseas in order to qualify. That is the main purpose of the Bill and that is the reason we want to pass it this session if possible. South Africa is a long way behind all other countries in the matter of control of its shipping. There is certainly no other country with a sea-board like our which is so backward in its legislation for controlling shipping in all its activities. The Government has realized the necessity for a comprehensive Merchant Shipping Act. The time is long overdue for a Merchant Shipping Act which will give us power to control all phases of shipping activities; the draft is ready and we hope next year to introduce such a Bill. This present Bill would, in the ordinary way, have been embodied in the comprehensive Bill, but for the reasons I have stated we have had to take this portion out and we put it forward now as a matter of urgency. These certificates which we will give in South Africa after passing the examination will be certificates of an equal standard to the British Board of Trade certificates, so anyone who obtains a certificate through the South African Board of examiners will have a certificate which will not only see them through this country, but in any part of the world. The Bill also provides for the right of those who hold certificates of competency which have been issued under the Railway Service Act of 1916. Sub-section 15 of section (4) of the Act provides that the shipping masters can give certificates for vessels up to 1,000 tons and 1,000 horse power. Not a large number, but a number of these, have been issued, and it is proposed in this Bill that these certificates shall be recognized and shall be valid for the vessels specified, with this exception, that they will probably be called upon to pass the colour and form tests, which is quite an ordinary thing. There is another section for those who have no certificates, but who have been allowed to act for a number of years and who are recognized by virtue of the fact that they have been engaged in the occupation for a number of years. They will have certificates of service which will exempt them from certificates of competency up to the grade they have been used to filling. The second chapter deals with fishing boats; and in this case the certificates are skippers’ certificates and not masters’ certificates. The examination is not so stiff and the certificates are not of such a high standard. In the third chapter of the Bill there is a new provision introduced which experience has shown to be necessary. That is when an accident happens to a ship on our coast. The present laws provide for an enquiry to be held as soon after the accident as possible. In the past a week or more has passed between the time of the accident and the time of the enquiry; and the magistrates have reported and pointed out that some times, owing to the lapse of time, it is impossible to get the sound evidence which they should get, for various reasons. What they would like is that we should follow the practice adopted in Great Britain; that is, that the shipping master shall have the authority to board a vessel and to take possession if necessary of the log book and to ask certain essential questions in order to elicit the facts. It is not the intention to hold a double enquiry.
Is that the practice in Britain?
Yes, it is provided for in Clause 465 of the British Merchant Shipping Act. It was the practice in Natal, and I am informed it worked very satisfactorily there, and I have letters from the chief magistrate here asking that the same provision should be embodied in the Bill, and also pointing out that this is the practice in Great Britain; and it was he who drew my attention to the particular clause in the British Act. I do not think there ought to be any opposition to this Bill. Not only has it been thoroughly examined, but it has been pulled to pieces and re-organized and put into shape by various authorities, all of whom are supposed to understand the technique of the subject, including the port captain and shore captain of the Union-Castle Co. I am pleased to say that we have had the assistance of members of the board of control of the training-ship “General Botha”, the shipping master and his subordinates, who will have to administer the Bill, and the railway authorities. It is moulded on the lines of similar legislation in the other dominions, and in this regard it will bring South Africa into line with the United Kingdom and the other dominions. Seeing that people who are supposed to understand the subject thoroughly have spent such a tremendous lot of time on it—and I would like to thank them publicly, as I have done privately, for the very valuable services they have given —I hope this House will see its way clear to make this a non-party measure for the sake of our sea-going boys who will be ready to sit for their examinations before many months are over.
We on this side have no intention of opposing this measure in any way. On the contrary, we welcome it, but I feel that there is one clause which we certainly should oppose. I wish to deal with this Bill in the first instance, by showing the necessity for it, then I wish to draw the Minister’s attention to what I consider omissions of necessary provisions which he has omitted, and next I want to discuss the clause to which I alluded just now. This Bill deals purely with certificates of masters, mates and engineers. It in no way deals with the equipment or seaworthiness of a boat. Our great trouble has been that so many boats have put to sea in an unseaworthy condition. I trust that that phase of the question is going to be dealt with early next session. We know that a comprehensive Bill has been drafted, and, I believe, printed. The Railways and Harbours Act, referred to by the Minister, deals merely with local craft; it has nothing to do with any craft leaving these waters. For years past those who understand this matter and have interested themselves in it, have felt the necessity for such a Bill. Up to 1919 the average number of applications by South African boys to go to sea reached 500 per annum. Since 1919 there has been no record, as far as I can find. Since the establishment of the training-ship “General Botha” the public has begun to take an interest in the matter, and this Bill will be welcomed by all. One skipper told me that he had had 30 applications from boys here of good parentage and education who had the sea sense and who would make ideal seamen. We should have full control, not only of the officers, but also of the ship. I am, therefore, particularly anxious that the Minister should endeavour to see his way clear to bring in a comprehensive Bill next session. We are a long way behind other dominions. I am very anxious about the comprehensive Bill, because we have had so many sad cases. Not long ago a vessel of 400 tons arrived here with 400 passengers aboard, 14 of a crew, and only four lifeboats on the whole ship. That vessel arrived here in Cape Town and the authorities could do nothing. We also had a case of a boat arriving from South Georgia, which made Mossel Bay, instead of Table Bay. All are agreed that the ships in South African waters should have competent and certificated officers. We now propose to arrange for certificates for masters, mates and engineers, and I am particularly glad that the Minister has brought engineers into this Bill, because we have here hundreds of engineers turned out annually, and they are unable to find work, because work is given to those coming with certificates from other countries. We know also that a large number of our boys are completing their training. I understood the Minister to say that the certificates given here are going to have world-wide value. There is nothing in the Bill to warrant that, but I trust that in order to make these certificates of world-wide value, the Minister will keep in close touch with the Board of Trade in England.
We are now.
I would suggest further that for the first few years we should have the examination papers set by the Board of Trade. The examinations should be identical with the Board of Trade examinations. This short Bill is long overdue, but there are some points which I think the Minister might consider even in this Bill now. There is nothing in the Bill to provide that the boys who come up for examination need have anything more than a theoretical training. It seems to me to be very necessary that a sailor should have some sea training. The Bill also does not guard against a very important matter, and that is that if in any other part of the world a sea-man who has been deprived of a certificate, such withdrawal or cancellation will debar our authorities from giving a fresh certificate.
Section 7 provides for reciprocity.
I do not think it covers that point. It is all very well to say that there should be reciprocity, but there is nothing in the Bill to say that these records shall be sent from other countries to us and from us to other countries. Then there is no provision to remit any case for further examination and investigation. If the Minister would accept the reciprocity clause in the Merchant Shipping Act, which he has the power to do, and arrange to have that reciprocity, then the Merchant Shipping Act will enable him to get these records from other parts.
We do now.
My point is that you are getting these as an act of courtesy now. I want you to get the records by the provisions of an Act. There is another important matter, and one which it is very difficult for us to decide on. That is in regard to whalers. We know the Scandinavians are the only nation prepared to go in for that particular class of work, and we have the position, under the Bill, that the Governor-General may, under certain circumstances, give them certificates, or leave to carry on as if they had certificates. I want to suggest that we should endeavour to come to terms with the whaling companies. We do not want to injure the industry; but we might get them to accept our own boys as engineers and crews, or a large percentage of them, as a start and get them trained, and we could inform these companies that, after a certain number of years, they will not be able to carry on without the necessary certificates. This would create no hardship, and would be of great assistance to our own people. An Act like this, I take it, is introduced to benefit our own people, and the sooner we can arrange for these people to understand that, after a certain time, only our people or their people who can pass an examination, will be considered, and that they should start employing South Africans wherever possible, and be ready for the time that certificates are required, the better. In regard to clause 16, the Minister told us that only essential questions are to be asked and that that does not mean the holding of an enquiry. I do not know where he gets that idea from as that is not what the Bill says. This clause is one under which customs officers —not a chief customs officer here, but any chief customs officer at the place where there is a wreck—can hold an enquiry. The enquiry is not the ordinary enquiry. He can administer the oath and force anyone to give the necessary evidence. He can ask questions and insist on replies. This would be dangerous power to place in the hands of even a qualified man. But this man may know nothing about the law of evidence. He can force these men to give practically any reply he wishes, and this evidence is sent on to the magistrate who is to hold the enquiry into these men’s conduct. I submit that this is a very wrong thing to do. I know it will be said that this is analogous to our system of holding preliminary examinations in criminal prosecutions, but in that case the magistrate decides the evidence to be taken and knows the law of evidence and the evidence is sent on to the Attorney-General and not to the court trying the case. No one objects to the papers or log books being attached. I think that is necessary, but when you give a customs officer such vast powers—more than a magistrate has in a preliminary examination—the Minister should pause. The Minister holds that this is a copy of the English Act, but the Minister is mistaken. According to this Bill, an officer of customs at any port may hold an enquiry and may demand from the master the log and other records. That we agree with. He may take such evidence from the master, officers and crew of the ship as he may deem expedient; but such evidence shall be taken on oath, which such principal officer of customs is authorized to administer. Such evidence must be forwarded forthwith to the magistrate of the district in which any enquiry into the casualty is to take place. That means that the evidence at this preliminary investigation is to be used as evidence against a man at his trial. That is not intended in the British Act. If you look at section 465, you will find that where a shipping casualty has occurred a preliminary enquiry is to be held and by clause 466 the person authorized to make the preliminary enquiry, in any case where he considers it requisite or expedient, must make such preliminary enquiry or formal investigation. But the man who makes the original enquiry under the British Act does not produce that evidence before the court of investigation. He uses it purely to guide the Board of Trade in their decision whether there should be an investigation or not. The real trial takes place, therefore, without this evidence. That is to say that this man, on behalf of the Board of Trade, takes evidence under oath, and sends on his findings, with all the evidence, to the Board of Trade, who apply for a court of summary jurisdiction, to try the captain or officers, as the case may be. Clause 729 says that such officer may enter and inspect any premises. That appears to be requisite for the report which he is directed to make; not in taking evidence to assist the prosecution in finding a man guilty: but to enable the Board of Trade to decide whether this man should be tried or not. That is different from this Bill and I want the Minister to consider this very seriously. Under the Minister’s proposal the man could be condemned before he is tried, and we do not want to follow the practice in France, where they have an inquisitorial enquiry before a man is tried. I think it is necessary that this Bill should go through as soon as possible, and I hope the Minister will be very reasonable in considering and accepting amendments from this side which will help to make this a reasonable Bill and not one pressing unduly on any individuals.
There is one point which I have been asked to bring to the notice of the Minister and which has been touched upon by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl), and that is in regard to the sealing and whaling vessels. Unfortunately, there are no South Africans who can manage a sealing or a whaling ship, and unfortunately there are very few Englishmen who can do it. I understand the late Lord Lever-hulme, who had whaling interests, had to register his company in Norway because he could not find captains and officers for whaling vessels in England. If this becomes law, it will probably be impossible for our own companies to go on with their business. These companies are registered here and bring their seals and whales here, and I am told it is a matter of considerable importance to the port of Cape Town. The first suggestion I would make is to introduce an amending clause into this Bill to provide that nothing in the Act shall apply to whaling and sealing vessels. If the Minister cannot do that, I would suggest that Clause 4 be amended by deleting the words—
and delete the sub-clause (2) altogether. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) has suggested that the whaling companies should be told to employ South Africans as far as possible. If the Minister should accept the amendment, not to apply the Bill to the whaling ships, he could tell the whaling companies that they can now go on whaling with their Norwegian officers and men; but that, after a certain number of years, this will be applied to all South African ships. As the matter stands at present, I am told that there will be a very great hardship on your South African whaling companies. Sub-clause (2) of Clause 16 begins thus—
In Clause 18, where you have the interpretations. “officer” is defined as a master, mate or engineer. That, I think, can be remedied by making it clear in the sub-clause that the officer referred to there is the principal officer of customs.
Those who have travelled between South Africa and England and other parts must often have been struck by the fact that it is impossible to find a South African boy in any capacity on vessels that trade with South Africa. I have often tried to find among the crew of officers, or wireless operators, a South African boy, and have failed. I think you would have to search with a microscope to find a South African boy in these ships that do their trade with South Africa. I think it is due to our having no legislation of this kind. The South African boy has had no opportunity to get this training and has found this calling practically closed to him. This legislation, together with a joint merchant shipping law or the Union, will make it possible for the South African boy to enter into competition with others on these ships. For that reason alone, such legislation ought to be welcome. When you start with new legislation of this kind, you have to remember that existing rights must be protected and the Bill, as originally drafted, caused a good deal of alarm among those engaged in fishing in the Cape Peninsula; because that proviso in regard to the five years was not in the original draft It is only right that the men in the fishing boats who, in many cases, own the ship along with the skipper, should be allowed to continue as in the past. I take it the proviso will meet that difficulty; but, in any case, the Bill does not apply to fishing boats under 25 tons. Even with that limitation it would have worked a hardship if the proviso had not been inserted. I take it that the Minister intended to protect the whalers under section 4.
In regard to Clause 16, the ordinary rules of evidence may be entirely disregarded. It may be necessary to put a captain or mate on trial for homicide, and you have to prevent injustice by providing that the ordinary rules of evidence be adhered to. One of the most elementary rules of evidence is that no man shall be compelled to give evidence which may incriminate him, and that if he so wishes he shall be allowed to engage legal assistance. However, if the clause is altered in these respects it will, to a large extent, meet the objections that have been raised. It may be to the interests of the men themselves that evidence shall be taken as soon as possible, so that it may be crystallized while it is still fresh in the memory of the witnesses. However, the Commissioner of Customs may elicit evidence from a man when the latter is not in full possession of his normal faculties, and the man should be safeguarded. On the whole we can congratulate the Minister on being the first to introduce a Merchant Shipping Bill for the Union, a measure which I hope will open up a new career for South African boys.
I wish to join the chorus of praise to the Minister for bringing in the Bill. The main object of the measure is to secure opportunities for South African youths to obtain positions in the mercantile marine. I somewhat share the alarm which has been voiced by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) and the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) with regard to Clause 16. It seems to me that this clause is not necessary at all. The main object should be the impounding of documents, log books, etc., so as to see that no alteration is made in them either by erasure or addition. Anything else would be inimical to the men concerned. I don’t think the safeguards mentioned by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) would be sufficient, for after an accident a man is not in a fit state to give evidence on his own behalf. The probability is that for days the man has been carrying on a fight against inclement weather, and so is not in a position to present his case in a proper way. When you say that a customs official shall have power to take whatever evidence he likes, the mariner concerned is placed in a very difficult position indeed. The Minister would meet all the circumstances of the case if he gave power for the impounding of documents and books. Clause 1 is capable of amendment for the better. Clause 3 lays it down that a duly certificated engineer shall be carried on a ship that is solely power driven. I suggest the removal of the word “solely”, for its retention will provide opportunities to evade the law, and that could be done by having a step mast. If the machinery is only run for part of the time it is essential to have a qualified engineer on board. I am glad to see that the Minister is now making it possible for South Africa to retain possession of its own South African trained youths. Hitherto a boy has had to go abroad in order to obtain a certificate, and naturally he looks for positions in the country in which he has secured his certificate, and consequently he is lost to South Africa for all time. This will be a beginning of our own race of certificated men, who will run our own steamships and other steamships as well. The whalers are perfectly well protected in the Bill, although I am always very dubious about these service certificates, and there will have to be a great amount of circumspection in controlling their issue. A certificate of service should carry with it some proof that the holders are able to perform their duties.
I have also been approached with regard to the question of whalers by people carrying on the whaling industry at Durban. When the Bill was first published there was an apprehension that it would interfere unduly with the whaling industry, but the Minister has very largely met the difficulty. I am assured that the whaling companies have been very anxious to employ locally trained men, but that they find it almost impossible to get men in South Africa to take up whaling in competition with men from Norway and Sweden. Undoubtedly clause 16 will have to be put right. In Natal we have a special law dealing with mercantile marine enquiries, and it is a common experience that these enquiries, which are held by a magistrate and two accessors, lead to the prejudicing of the captain and officers of the ships concerned. In 1884 a law was passed providing that the investigation should be conducted in such a manner that if any charge is made against any person that person shall have an opportunity of making a defence. If a customs official sends on his report to the magistrate who is going to hear a charge against the person concerned, the man will be very seriously prejudiced. While I see the desirability of someone seizing books and making a preliminary enquiry, the report should not be sent to the magistrate, but to the Minister or to the Attorney-General. In England, I understand, the reports go to the Board of Trade. I think if the Minister will alter that, and not send the report to the magistrate, but have it sent to himself or an official, it will meet the case better than the present clause.
I fail to understand the necessity of clause 16. The present precedent held when a ship arrives in port and an enquiry is necessary, the first step is for an investigation officer, attached to the Criminal Investigation Department, to visit it and take certain preliminary statements with the object of defining the question which will form the subject of the enquiry. An enquiry at times proceeds on a question involving the liability of more than one ship. The Minister proposes to introduce something unknown even in England under the Merchant Shipping Act. This examination on oath by a customs official has no analogy to the preliminary enquiry there, which is sent to the Board of Trade and forms the subject of administrative action only. In the case now projected, a principal customs officer can board a vessel and if he exercises to the full his powers he can interrogate any person on the vessel and can even “attach” any article. I cannot understand how he can do that without a warrant; in addition he can take evidence on oath. Before we can deal with the value to be attached to evidence so obtained the Minister provides also that the log book can be taken away. What is a master to do without his log book if no provision is made for its return. When he gets to his home port he must be in a position to produce this log book. This provision is calculated to put a master in a difficult position indeed. But to come back to the evidence, when these statements are taken what is to become of of them? As the Minister visualizes the position, they have to go to the magistrate, but when the magistrate is sitting as president of the court of enquiry, he can not produce them and no power is given to other parties to call for them. They do not become evidence in law unless the Minister goes further and declares that they shall be made evidence in law. If they must remain in the hands of the magistrate, the most that can result is that the mind of the magistrate may be affected in a particular direction. When the magistrate presides at a court of enquiry witnesses must come before him and give evidence in open court on oath, and must subject themselves to cross examination by which the truth of their statements may be properly tested. Supposing the magistrate made the statements available to the assessors in some way, either during the enquiry or after. Does the Minister realize the great importance that might be attached to statements of that kind? They might involve the criminal liability of a master; they might affect the certificate of the master, or the civil responsibility of the owners. Yet we are going to leave it to an authority, who might be influenced by rumours or newspaper statements that some master may have been guilty of negligence, to take evidence on the ship for that authority to write down answers to leading questions which he puts himself, and to call upon a witness to swear to a statement which contains a record given under circumstances of that kind, possibly affect the rights or at any rate the liberties of the person from whom the statement is taken. The Minister has failed to make it clear what particular value he attached to this new procedure. If he carries this section as it is printed what possible value is it in law. He has failed to satisfy the House on that point unless the Minister now discloses some reason which we have not discovered, and this being so, the clause will fail for all practical purposes, and is in addition calculated to lead to abuse of the rights of those affected.
In reply to points raised by the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) he emphasizes the need for a Bill which will not only give control of the officers, but of the ships themselves, so as to enable us to take steps to prevent ships not seaworthy from going to sea. All these things will be covered in a comprehensive Merchant Shipping Bill which is coming forward next year. This Bill does not propose to deal with anything else, except the granting of certificates of competency to men who have passed the examination. In future no ships will be allowed to leave the Harbour without officers who have competency certificates granted by this country or other countries. With regard to the second point of the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) that something should be put in to prevent us granting shipping certificates to someone who has had a certificate cancelled in other parts of the world, I wish to say that it is not necessary because Great Britain notifies the colonies under the reciprocity clause (No. 102) of the main Act. We have no control under this as far as the Board of Trade in Great Britain is concerned. The Board of Trade in Great Britain issues an order in council, and that covers this dominion or any other dominion.
They don’t do it unless you apply.
It is not necessary to put it in the Bill. Of course we cannot have reciprocity unless we apply. The Board of Trade is the highest authority and they grant reciprocity and send out whole lists of cancellations and we send to the Board of Trade the lists of people who have obtained certificates of competency, purely for registration purposes. All these points are met by the machinery of the Board of Trade under which clause 102 is put into force as far as South Africa is concerned. A certificate issued by this country will not carry the holder far unless it is recognized by the Board of rade. They send out the examination papers. I have here one of the British Board of Trade forms which deals with this very question referred to in Clause 465 about taking the preliminary enquiry. I agree with what has been said by previous speakers that this preliminary enquiry should in no way prejudice any person and I am prepared to accept any reasonable amendment that will meet the position. I want to make it possible to take down on oath the essential facts as quickly as possible after the casualty occurs, so as to provide a basis on which the court can start their enquiry. That is the position in Great Britain. Under section 465 power is given to the chief officer of customs, who is the shipping master, as he is in this country, to make this preliminary enquiry and send it to the Board of Trade. What does he do? He asks a certain number of questions. They are all questions of fact. You have to put down the exact spot, name of the company, date, state of the tide and weather, the number of lives lost, the number of lives saved and by what means, the draught of the vessel forward and aft, whether there are boats to carry all on board, life-saving appliances on board, number of watertight compartments, and so on. There are 59 questions of fact.
That is so now.
We give power under Clause 16 to the chief customs officer to go on board and to take down all these facts on oath, and these facts will be sent to the Department of Justice. Without this power in the Bill we should not be able to go on board and take down the essential facts. If hon. members think the powers are too wide I am quite prepared to meet them. I do not want members to wreck this Bill merely because one of the clauses is a little wide in its scope. The magistrate who conducts the enquiry has asked us to do this. It is essential these facts should be ascertained quickly instead of having to wait for weeks, when it is most difficult to get to the bottom of the whole thing. With regard to our friend at the back, he will see that section 4 (2) completely covers the position. The original Bill did not meet the position of whalers and sealers. I quite agree with what he said. I will deal with all the other points raised as we come to the clauses in committee. I move the second reading.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into committee to-morrow.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
By direction of Mr. Speaker.
The CLERK read the order, dated the 17th instant, that on and after Monday, the 20th July, the House meet at 10.30 a.m. on each sitting day, and that, subject to the sessional order of 28th May relating to questions on Tuesdays, Government business have precedence, and that business be suspended at 12.45 p.m. and resumed at 2.15 p.m.
Motion put and agreed to.
Seventh Order read: Miners’ Phthisis Acts Consolidation Bill, as amended in committee of the Whole House, to be considered.
Amendments in Clauses 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, and in Clause 35 up to line 24, on page 42, put and agreed to.
Amendment put in lines 25 to 29, on page 42, of Clause 35.
I wish to ask the Minister before this amendment was put whether he will not re-consider the matter I put to him yesterday and allow the deletion of the words—
The point is that, if these words remain, a European miner can only get compensation in a case of “pure” tuberculosis if he has worked underground, while the native can get compensation for “pure” tuberculosis if he has never worked underground. All that is necessary is that the native shall have contracted the dis ease within six months of his—
No matter what that employment may have been.
If the hon. member will allow me, I will reconsider this point in another place.
It seems to me that to make this agree with the English text it is only necessary to put the accent on “of”. The English text reads—
And in the Dutch text it is then “stops working underground or is discharged, or—”, etc.
The best solution I think is to leave the amendment as it is.
Amendment, as amended, put and agreed to.
Remaining amendments in Clause 35; amendments in Clauses 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, omission of Clause 44, new Clause 44, omission of Clause 45, new Clause 45, omission of Clause 46, new Clause 46, amendments in Clauses 48, 49, omission of Clause 50, new Clause 50, amendments in Clauses 51, 54, 55, and omission of Clause 58, put and agreed to.
On new Clause 58,
This clause was agreed to in the select committee; but I cannot help thinking that there is a mistake in passing it in its present form. There is a proviso at the end of the clause leaving the law as it is, and I understand there is some dispute as to what the law is at present in regard to debts incurred. It seems to me that the principle involved in this clause is wrong. No financial institution will lend money to an institution which is getting towards the end of its life, as it will have no real security for the money it is lending, and the probability is that it is just when the company is getting into difficulties that it is most in want of assistance. No bank or financial institution is going to come to the rescue of a company like that if, immediately they have done that, they are faced with the risk that this mortgage, or whatever security they take, is no security at all. I appreciate the fact that a clause of this kind gives a certain amount of relief to mines with longer life; but allowing for that, it seems to me, as a matter of general policy, it is bad; because it is going to prevent companies, with real need of financial assistance, getting it when they need it most.
I do not quite appreciate what the hon. member is aiming at. Is he suggesting some alteration?
What is the good?
I may tell the hon. member, and hon. members in general, that this clause was unanimously agreed to by the Select Committee. This matter of priority has been threshed out over and over again, and the position is simply that there is a doubt as to what the law has been since 1912. The law advisers say that the claims of the Phthisis Board have been preferent all through. Private opinions taken by the Chamber of Mines, indicate that these claims have not been preferent, but that special mortgages take preference over the claims of the Phthisis Board. We have left the law, up to now, untouched, by the provision to clause 58. and surely we cannot be expected to do more than that. As to the future, we have placed it beyond all possible doubt, and the claims of the Phthisis Board must be preferable. I think that is a sound principle and necessarily flows forth from the basic principle adopted by the commissioners of 1920, that compensation under these Acts must be a first charge upon the employer. I want to point out also to the hon. member that for instance, under the Income Tax Acts, the State has a preference over a special mortgage, and banks do not seem to scruple to lend money on a special mortgage, because of the special preference given on income tax to the Government, over special mortgages. I do not anticipate any practical difficulty here either.
Clause put and agreed to.
Amendments in Clauses 59, 60, 61, 62, 64, 65. 70, omission of Clause 75, put and agreed to.
New Clause 75 put.
I admit that the hon. Minister by including the new section 5 has removed a great part of the objections of the outside mines under this Bill. But my object is to reduce the maximum amount that can be demanded from such an outside mine. As it is here the maximum which can be demanded is the average profit made during three months and I propose to make it “the average profit of one month”. I incorporate that because the big mines on the Witwatersrand do not pay more than seven 01 eight per cent. into the miners’ phthisis fund. Up to now that was the maximum and I do not think it is fair to make it 25 per cent. for the outside districts.
I second the amendment. I think there is something to be said for the amendment. This gazetted mines’ fund is something new. Hitherto in miners’ phthisis legislation we have had only one fund—that is the fund raised from scheduled mines and it has been entirely confined to mines on the Witwatersrand. The mines on the Rand are all contiguous and they are very largely controlled by the same persons, and therefore there is no particular hardship in raising the compensation money by means of a fund. But the Bill now creates another fund which is intended to apply to mines in different parts of the country where the work is such as to cause miners’ phthisis. The Bill proposes to bring in these mines. It seems to me rather hard that a mine situated say in Pilgrims Rest, may have to contribute to a fund for men who contract silicosis in Barberton or some other remote part of the country. It is going too far to have a limit so high as 25 per cent of the profits on the mines. The amendment is a reasonable one, seeing that these mines are very small concerns, and that it will not take very much to close them down. They provide work for people in remote parts of the country and we should not make too big a demand on them.
I am sorry that I cannot accept the amendment for the simple reason that the fundamental principle of the whole legislation to-day and in the past is that each mine is expected to pay these debts up to the last penny and even if the mine goes insolvent and into liquidation it must be paid as far as possible. That is of course the case with scheduled mines. As regards outside mines he wants a limitation. There is a limitation here and a quite reasonable limitation. In so far as profits are made it is held responsible up to 25 per cent. for these kinds of burdens. That is the maximum. In this respect I cannot see such a great difference between the outside mines and the scheduled mines as to induce me to accept this amendment.
The second amendment has reference to the fund which will now be established under subsection 10. It states first in (a) how the fund will be obtained, in (b) how the fund will be expended. It is self evident that the payment of the benefits to mine workers should come out of that fund. But that is not all. He also says that any benefit acknowledged by section 61 of the Act of 1919 will also come out of it. That section was specially inserted for mine workers who had worked at the Sheba mine in Barberton. It says that compensation that was paid to mine workers there in a lump sum, or in the form of a pension, shall be paid back from the treasury, and up to the present that has actually been done, but now the Minister proposes that the monies shall no longer be paid by the treasury, but out of this new fund. I think that it is better to leave the position as it is with reference to the few people and therefore I move my amendment.
I must say again that I cannot accept the amendment for the simple reason that when there is a deficit on mines in this connection the State makes good the shortage. The deficit in connection with the Sheba mine was paid in that way. There were six cases. In five cases a lump sum was paid out, but in one case there was a pension which hitherto had been paid by the State. In the future the State will, however, have to pay the pension. That is only fair because otherwise there will be a difficulty between the Sheba mine and the outside mines. Because the State makes good any shortage there is no necessity for this amendment. I want to call the hon. member’s attention to section 77 (5) which reads as follows—
This section replaces section 61 of the principal Act and a new state of affairs is created and adequate provision is made. When the mine makes profits then the 25 per cent. will be added under this Bill for these kind of burdens. I therefore think that the amendment is unnecessary.
Amendments put and negatived.
New Clause 75, as printed, put and agreed to.
Amendments put in Clause 76.
Amendments, as amended, put and agreed to.
Amendments in Clauses 77 and 78, and in third and fourth schedules, put and agreed to and the Bill, as amended, adopted.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
I hope the Minister will not take it amiss if I say a few words on this Bill. I think thanks are due to the Minister for the patience he has shown in dealing with this Bill in the select committee. I wish to say we also appreciate the work done by the chairman of the phthisis board. He has given us every assistance, but I would like to say to the Minister that he must not expect this Bill to be the last word on miners’ phthisis. It is a great improvement on previous Bills, but there are a few very serious anomalies which I hope will be rectified by the present Minister in the future. We have three stages of miners’ phthisis—ante-primary, which carries a compensation of £400; primary, that is compensated to the extent of £600, and the secondary stage, which is the pension stage. It happens, and has happened in 94 cases in the past, that the miner, although miners’ phthisis is a progressive disease, was not found to be suffering in either of the first two stages, and was therefore put direct into the secondary, and received a pension only. It is supposed his life is limited, on the average, to two or three years, and the pension payable is about £16 a month, or a total of £384. It would only be just where phthisis is not discovered before the secondary stage, that the miner should receive the compensation of the primary stage, in addition to the pension. Two men go to the bureau at the same time. One is found to be suffering in the primary stage, and receives a cheque for £600, and the other man is found to be suffering from no phthisis whatever. In six months’ time they both come back. The first man, who receives £600, is found to be in the secondary stage and gets his pension in addition. The other man is also found to be in the secondary stage, and he gets the pension only and no compensation for the primary stage. The least that can be done is to make those two stages equal, so that the dependents would receive the difference between what a man receives in pension and the amount he would have received if certified in the primary stage. Then there is another anomaly I wish to point out, that if a miner dies before he is certified to be suffering from miners’ phthisis and at the post mortem examination he is found to have been suffering from silicosis and silicosis was a contributory factor to his death, his wife and his children receive a pension. If he had been examined by the bureau only a week before his death he would have received £600 compensation for the primary stage and if he died a week later his wife and children would have the benefit of the pension as well, but because he has not been examined even an hour before his death, his wife and children must go without the £600. There is another point I wish to put to the Minister that in the compensation lists it is based on the salary. In that case I feel it would have been a justice to the miners that there should have been a minimum compensation of at least £400. The average amount is a little over £400, but there is one case of £234. and I consider it is not fair to those people who get less than £400. There is another anomaly, the question of the initial certificate. Any man who wishes to work underground must be examined medically. There is a very stringent medical examination, and that is quite right. There are about 2,000 miners who work underground, but the law lays it down and it is provided in this Bill, that if a miner works underground and leaves the mine for a period he must present himself at the medical bureau within two years, but if he comes later they must re-examine him and pass him again. These 2,000 miners are excluded from following their natural occupation. If the presentation to the medical bureau meant anything it would be quite all right, but if a man presents himself the bureau cannot turn him down. He could go on for 40 years and come back every two years and they must renew his certificate. I hope these things will be rectified in future.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a third time.
Message received from the Senate returning the Provincial Subsidies and Taxation Powers (Amendment) Bill, with amendments.
Amendments to be considered to-morrow.
The House adjourned at