House of Assembly: Vol5 - THURSDAY 23 JULY 1925
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at
with leave, asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) What special steps are being taken by the Administration in connection with possible outbreaks of the plague, in view of the fact that the disease appears to be endemic in the Union;
- (2) how many qualified sanitary inspectors are employed to ensure that the various railway camps, station buildings, rolling stock, etc., are kept in proper sanitary condition; and
- (3) whether, in view of the fact that all local authorities are compelled to secure the services of properly qualified sanitary inspectors, he will be prepared to make the necessary arrangements to adopt the same policy in his Department?
The Administration is acting in close co-operation with the Department of Public Health in adopting special preventive measures against plague and spread of infection. Special precautions at all ports as well as at inland centres have been taken. In addition to ordinary departmental supervision and control throughout the Union and South-West Africa, in consultation with the Administration’s medical officers and officers of the Health Department, the Administration has made special appointments of five sanitary inspectors anti two sanitary foremen, and sixteen rat-catchers are now engaged. At the ports special staffs engaged on disinfecting work and rodent destruction are employed jointly by the Administration and the Health Department to carry out all preventive measures required by Health Officers. Authority has recently been given for additional precautionary measures at Cape Town involving an expenditure of over £16,000, of which approximately £10,000 it is estimated will be expended during the current financial year. Under the provisions of the Public Health Act, the Minister for Public Health may exercise all the powers in respect of the Administration’s premises which, under the Health Act, are conferred or imposed upon local authorities. The hon. member may rest assured that the Administration acts in closest co-operation with the Health Department in order to effect all remedial or preventive measures required by the Minister of Public Health.
with leave, asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:
- (1) What amount of revenue has been collected from the issue of broadcasting licences in the Union; and
- (2) what action is taken in regard to persons erecting and maintaining unlicensed aerials?
- (1) Up to the end of May, 1925, 12,468 broadcast receiving licences have been issued, which have brought in a revenue of £3,117. In addition the Post Office has received up to that date the sum of £309 by way of commission on fees collected on behalf of the broadcasters. Total revenue up to that date therefore £3,426.
- (2) They are warned of the provisions of the law and required to take out a licence or dismantle their aerial.
Leave was granted to the Minister of the Interior to introduce the Areas Reservation and Immigration and Registration Further Provisions Bill.
Before you put the question, Mr. Speaker—
It is not usual to discuss a Bill on the first reading, but if there is no objection the hon. Minister may proceed.
Before you put the question that this Bill be read a first time I should like to make a short statement with regard to the Bill I am introducing now, a statement which I think hon. members have a right to expect from me at this stage. The introduction of this Bill is, as hon. members will know, an undertaking on my part about a year ago during the last session of Parliament. During that session a motion was introduced dealing with the Asiatic question by the hon. member for Illovo, and replying on that occasion I undertook that I would go into the whole of the Asiatic question during the recess as thoroughly as I could, and that I would introduce during this session of Parliament legislation dealing with that problem. I am very sorry I could not have the Bill ready before this very end of the session. I say I am sorry for that because I realize, especially after having gone into the question personally, that the Asiatic problem is indeed a very pressing one in the country, and that delay will certainly, in future, not make the solution of the question easier for us. On the other hand, I am not sorry that legislation is introduced at this late stage, because it is, of course, impossible to carry the Bill further than just the first reading now. In the meantime, in the recess, before the Bill can be brought up again next session, the country as a whole will have the fullest opportunity of knowing what the policy of the Government is in regard to the Asiatic problem, and I personally, and the Government with me, will certainly follow the criticism, especially constructive criticism, which is brought forward in connection with this Bill, and I must say that personally I shall be very glad to adopt any helpful suggestions which may be brought forward during the recess. I consider the Asiatic question, just as the native question, is a problem not for one political party, but a problem for the whole country, and a question which should be solved, as far as possible, above the arena of party strife. We should keep it, as far as possible, above party divisions. I am not going at this stage to make any second reading speech on this Bill, especially as the Bill is not yet in the hands of hon. members, but perhaps hon. members will allow me to make a few remarks of a general character. In the first place, I want to say that the Bill, as hon. members will have an opportunity of seeing later on, will certainly not satisfy extreme sections in the country. In this Bill I tried to steer the safe and the sane middle course. The radical element in the country will certainly think that this Bill is too weak and moderate, and, on the other hand, that element in the country which is faint-hearted, or weak, will certainly think that this Bill is going quite too far, that it is too radical, and that in certain senses it will be oppressive. Now I must say that the Bill frankly starts from the general supposition that the Indian, as a race in this country, is an alien element in the population, and that no solution of this question will be acceptable to the country unless it results in a very considerable reduction of the Indian population in this country. But, on the other hand, the method of dealing with this question will not be the employment of any forcible means. The method which this Bill will propose will be the application of pressure to supplement, on the other hand, the inducement which is held out to the Indians to leave the country. The Bill, to a certain extent, follows well-known lines. To a certain extent we go the path which has been trodden before by my hon. friends opposite, but the Bill does not rest there—it goes a good deal further. The Bill tries, to a much larger extent than was done by the Class Areas Bill of the previous Government, to carry out the recommendations of the Asiatic Enquiry Commission. We are dealing in this Bill not only with residential or commercial segregation, but also with land ownership, especially in Natal. In addition to that, the Bill proposes in certain respects to amend the Immigrants Regulation Act. We find that there is a considerable influx of Indians still going on, especially the influx of Indian women, and the amendments which we propose in this Bill will go very far to put an effective stop to that. There is one omission which I think certainly will be noted by hon. gentlemen when they read the Bill, and that is that this Bill, except in a general way, does not deal with the issue of trading licences. By another Bill which has passed, or which is being dealt with by Parliament just now, we will establish uniformity in regard to licences issued in the country, but that uniformity only consists in the fixing of the amount to be paid for these licences, and the issue of the licences to particular persons remains as before, in the hands of the provincial administrations. So also in regard to the issue of trading licences to Asiatics, the matter will remain in the hands of the provincial administrations, just as before. Now I would just further make this general remark, that in this Bill we are trying to respect, as far as possible, the susceptibilities of the Indian population. We follow the example of legislation which has been passed by this House on previous occasions, and throughout the Bill we do not mention the name of the Asiatic as a class at all, except where it must be done in cases where we refer to existing laws which deal specifically with Asiatics as a class. I may just conclude by making two points quite clear. I wish to be very clearly understood on these two points. The first is that the introduction of this Bill will not or must not be taken as closing the door to any negotiations or communications which may pass at present, or in the future, between the Union Government and the Government of India in regard to the Indian question. As I have stated on a former occasion, this Government has been approached by the Government of India with a view to arranging between the two Governments a round-table conference on the treatment of Indians in South Africa. These negotiations are not yet closed, though they have taken a very definite course. Now the introduction at this stage of this proposed legislation must not be taken as closing the door to further communications between the two Governments about this particular point. On the contrary, I think that the statement, as embodied in this Bill, of the Asiatic policy of the present Government will very materially help in further communications which there may be between the two Governments.
Can you tell us how far the negotiations have gone?
It is very difficult at this stage to make any statement on that point. I do not think it is to the public interest to do so just now. The other point upon which I wish to lay emphasis is this—and I give it as an intimation to everyone interested in the Bill—and that is that according to the Bill, as it stands now, it will come into operation on the 1st August of this year; that is, within about a fortnight’s time. Whatever the time may be when this Bill may be passed by the Union Parliament, this order to come into operation on the 1st August will stand. I think it is necessary at this stage to make this announcement because in the Bill certain vested interests are protected, and if the Bill does not come into operation or is not made retrospective afterwards to come into operation on the 1st August, 1925, I am afraid there will be a general scramble amongst the Indian population for the creation of vested interests, and in that way the problem which we wish to solve will be made infinitely more complicated, and, therefore, I wish it to be understood that, whenever this Bill is passed, it will come into operation as from the 1st August of this year. This, I think, is all I wish to say at this stage, and I move the first reading of the Bill.
It was not regular that a discussion should take place on the first reading stage, because Standing Order No. 158 definitely says that the question in regard to a first reading must be put without amendment or debate. In order that that difficulty may be overcome, I shall regard the motion before the House now as a motion for leave to introduce the Bill. If we take it in that way, I think the question will be regularized. The motion before the House now must be taken to be a motion for leave to introduce this Bill.
Motion for leave to introduce the Bill put and agreed to.
Will the Minister now move the first reading?
Motion put and agreed to, and Bill read a first time.
What date for a second reading?
Before you call on the Clerk to read the first order, Mr. Speaker, may I submit a motion by leave of the House? There has been laid on the Table of the House a most important document. It, is the report of the Board of Trade and Industries, No. 54, upon meat, fish and other foodstuffs, and, as it is very late in the session, I crave your indulgence to be allowed to move that this report be printed and circulated. It is of vital importance, and I think the country should know what is contained therein. I therefore move, with your permission—
I am sorry that I cannot allow the motion, because the question of the printing of documents laid on the Table of the House is in the hands of the Printing Committee. The hon. member might approach the Printing Committee in order to see whether they will authorize the printing of this document.
Will you permit me to move that this matter be referred to the Printing Committee?
The hon. member cannot make any motion in the matter.
I may say that I have given instructions for the report to be printed as a white paper.
First Order read: Third reading, South Africa Act, 1909, Further Amendment Bill.
I do not wish to repeat what I have said several times already; but I think I shall not be doing my duty if I allow this Bill to pass without finally entering a strong protest against its provisions. The Prime Minister, yesterday, seemed to take my criticism amiss, and seemed to think I was trying to interfere with the composition of the Cabinet and of the Government of this country; which is entirely a matter in his discretion. I wish to say—and need scarcely say—I have not the least idea whatever of interfering with the composition or personnel of the Government. That is a matter entirely for the Prime Minister, and certainly it would be outside the range of the duties of the Opposition to take a hand in that delicate business. I think it is difficult enough to form Governments in this country, and the task will not be easier if the Prime Minister, in forming a Government, has not only to consult his friends and supporters, but his opponents as well. That is not the question. We do not wish to interfere with the allocation of portfolios. What I said yesterday was simply to make a suggestion that, during the recess, if the Minister of Labour finds it too difficult to discharge his present dual position—
This is not a Minister of Labour relief bill, I can assure you.
It so happens that it has taken that form, and not owing to our action. I made a general criticism of this Bill on the second reading, and the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, in replying to my argument, brought forward the piteous case of the Minister of Labour, and he threw himself on the mercy of this House and said the Minister of Labour was so overworked, physically and mentally, and the strain was such that he had been several times on the point of breaking down, and that relief was necessary.
Rather an overdrawn picture, I think.
I thought the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs would volunteer to come to the rescue, without dragging these domestic affairs into the light of day like that. Curiously enough, my hon. friend has not been here during the time that this Bill has been wider discussion, but the argument all through the debate seems to have been that it was a case for relief for the Minister of Labour, who cannot discharge his present dual position. I am not working on that basis at all; but, in reference to those remarks of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, I said, why should there not be some rearrangement? It is so easy to rearrange portfolios and to allocate functions in such a way that one colleague helps another. We all do it. It is repeatedly done by all Governments; Ministers have the same responsibility, and it is not merely individual, but collective responsibility. One Minister is really responsible for what his colleague does in the Government, and therefore it is quite easy to make a temporary arrangement which would ease the strain on any particular Minister, and it should have been quite possible to do that. The Prime Minister has not taken my suggestion, but rather resented it, and I must therefore take it that this amendment of the Constitution will go through, and I must also take it that what has not been contradicted in the debate in this House is correct, and that the whole object of this amendment is to bring another Labour Minister into the Cabinet. I do not think that is in the interest of the country. I think, judging from the character of the work of this session, the country, which is already getting restive, will get more so, if they see the position of labour still more strongly entrenched in the Government of this country.
I thought we were subservient ciphers.
We do not take that view at all; on the contrary, we consider that the tail has been very effectively wagging the dog. The Prime Minister will not hear this criticism from his own followers, and we, therefore, as an Opposition, are bound to voice the feelings, not only of the people of our way of thinking, but of the population generally. Hon. members opposite are not likely to press this on the attention of the Prime Minister, and we are bound to say what we think is the fact, that looking at the character of the legislation put through this session, the importance of political labour in this country is already over-accentuated in the composition of the Cabinet, and to go to the length of strengthening it by adding another Labour Minister to the Cabinet is not really in the interests of the country, arid would not truly reflect the political feedings in this country. I say this because I think it is right I should say so from the point of view of public policy. From a party point of view, I would not say this at all. From a party point of view the more Labour Ministers put into the Cabinet the better for us, for nothing is likely to alarm the country more than such a step. The people of this country, on the whole, are rather conservative people. They have been guided by sound conservative tradition in their past political history. They find they are now really on the move. They find that by the change made last June a political revolution has been effected in this country. Whereas at the last general election they thought they were voting for a sane and sound Nationalist Government, they now find that they voted for an administration that is predominantly labour in character. The Nationalists, just as much as the South African party people in this country, feel that the position is changing far beyond what they expected when they cast, a vote in favour of turning out the late Government. This is a further step in the same direction. The 17th June, so far from having seen the end of the Pact, has led to a very different condition of things, and now we have another occasion of the same character, and we are registering another decisive victory of the Labour party in the administration of this country. I protest against that. I think it is not in consonance with the political feeling of this country. It is causing alarm in all directions, and I do not wish the Constitution of this country permanently changed in order to give effect to political manoeuvres on those benches.
I am very glad that the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) has now ultimately scraped up sufficient courage to get up and give the real reason of his opposition to this Bill.
He is not afraid to do so.
Yes, the position is very difficult for him, so difficult that I am prepared to take the voice of the people on the matter to-morrow. Now I want to say that a more petty speech from a man in the position of the hon. member for Standerton I have not heard for a long time. The hon. member gets up here, he who formerly had so much to say about the constitutional position at the commencement of the debate, the member who has said that we are touching something holy if we touch the constitution and that we therefore should have introduced this at the beginning of the session, he rises here, this idealist, this great constitutionalist, and brings out his real reason for objection to the proposal and says in so many words that it is nothing else, but that he simply does not wish to give the Labour party any place in the Government of the country. That is the high constitutional position to which he eventually must come. But the hon. member for Standerton forgets to say here this afternoon that the position is so changed by what happened during the past year and the influence on the Government by the Labour section of it is such that the people outside say: “no, we never believed it would go that way.” I just want to remind the hon. member for Standerton a bit that we have had two elections since this Parliament met and how badly he and his party came off at them. We shall have another election to-morrow or the day after to-morrow and it will go exactly the same way. I would advise the hon. member for Standerton to wait and see for a bit and then he will perhaps be right. Nothing is impossible. But I would advise him to at least be careful to first of all see a little. But it is so clear to me now what the whole Opposition policy is in respect of this Bill, and particularly the attitude of the hon. member for Standerton. We will recollect that the first Bill of any moment introduced into this House was the Bill for the control of diamonds. What did my hon. friend say then? He commenced by trying to frighten the whole world that that was a socialistic, a labour measure.
That is so.
It may then be socialistic, but I just want to tell him this that it originated in the bosom of the Nationalist party, and let me say that I am thankful to the people of the country to-day, and will remain thankful, for this Act, and I am prepared to meet the hon. member for Standerton on a platform outside and to ask the opinion of the people. At the commencement of our Government they began with this frightening policy and it is again the last word of the hon. member for Standerton. That is what makes him so petty. He first tried to startle the people outside by saying that we now had a socialistic or communistic Government in the country.
Yes, the hon. members are just as petty as the hon. member for Standerton. I am sorry that the hon. member for Standerton has taken up this attitude. I can understand the petty narrowness of the ordinary member who gets no higher and cannot get a more sound view, but from the hon. member for Standerton—and then still only with the object of making a little party capital out of it—I had expected something different. I had thought we had grown out of that a bit, but what has made me comprehend how petty the hon. member for Standerton is is that he said “we already have quite too much labour influence in the Cabinet; in the country they must not get stronger, we have quite enough of them.”
Yes, as I have said, I can understand about the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Geldenhuys) that he is petty.
He Knows the Labour party.
Yes, only the House knows the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) better. But we have not to do here with the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) but with the hon. member for Standerton, and he has now clearly said here this afternoon that the working class have no right to a say in the government of this State. That is what he said in so many words.
The hon. member for Standerton is now ashamed of it. But that was the clear meaning of what he said that the labouring class have no right to a say in the government of the country. And then I say that I think that it is a point of view which is unworthy from the point of view of the interests of any country. The labouring class of the country have just as much right to a say in the legislation and government of the country as the party of the hon. member for Standerton. And the hon. member and his party will only then have the right to act when he can bring up one thing or another that the Labour party has done to the detriment of the country. He, has not relied on that. He has this afternoon made a general statement, and we certainly all felt that it came to this, that the workers of South Africa should be kept out of the Government of the country. The hon. member for Standerton will not get past that. He did not wrongly state the case, oh, no, but he came here this afternoon and openly stated what I have not heard from him for a very long time. I will repeat that I am prepared to meet the hon. member for Standerton in the country on that point just as willingly as I am to meet him on the question of an eleventh Minister, yes or no. The country outside will know that the appointment of the eleventh Minister is not being contested for any other reason than that the hon. member for Standerton does not want to see that any member of the Labour party should be included in the Government. I am pleased at the utterance of the hon. member for Standerton. We know now precisely where he stands. As for me, I have made it clear to the House as far as the business of the Government is concerned, it certainly demands an eleventh Minister, and I am prepared, if it is refused, to go to the country on it. I say again, that I came to the House to ask approval for the appointment of an eleventh Minister on account of the business which has to be done. The hon. member for Standerton has said that he does not want to mix himself up in the composition of the Cabinet. Oh, no; but he wants to ask the House to prevent another member of the Labour party being appointed to the Cabinet. That is his whole attitude. No interference in the composition of the Cabinet; oh, no, he only wants to reject the Bill because possibly a member of the Labour party will be appointed to the Cabinet.
Yes, precisely, as the eleventh. Now I ask if that is not a meddling with the constitution of the Cabinet? The Government sitting here is constituted out of the joint strength of Nationalists and Labour members. With what right does the hon. member for Standerton come to the House and ask it to reject what is necessary in the interests of the country, because the person, or rather the class from which he who would be appointed Minister is not what pleases him? No, I say again, that such a thing coming from a man in the position of the hon. member for Standerton is an impertinence which is not in the least justifiable. And he has admitted this. But he is so impertinent simply because he has such a fatal class prejudice against, we can almost say hatred for, the Labour party, because he is afraid that the Labour party will get another place in the Cabinet. Well that is the only reason that has been advanced this afternoon, and I think it has been sufficiently refuted. I shall persist in my attitude, and if the House wants to reject it.it is a matter for the House, but I say, as far as I am concerned, I stand on this.
You might tell us what the result of the ballot has been.
Motion put, and Mr. de Jager called for a division.
Upon which the House divided.
Barlow, A. G.
Beyers, F. W.
Brink, G. F.
Brits, G. P.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conroy, E. A.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I.
De Villiers, P. C.
De Villiers, W. B.
De Waal, J H. H.
De Wet, S. D.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fick, M. L.
Fordham, A. C.
Fourie, A. P. J.
Hattingh, B. R.
Hay, G. A.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Keyter, J. G.
Louw, E. H.
Madeley, W. B.
Malan, D. F.
Malan, M. L.
McMenamin, J. J.
Moll, H, H.
Naudé, A. S.
Naudé, J. F. (Tom)
Pienaar, B. J.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Raubenheimer, I. van W.
Rood, W. H.
Roos, T. J. de V.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Snow, W. J.
Steytler, L. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Heerden, I. P.
Van Hees, A. S.
Van Rensburg, J. J.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Visser, T. C.
Waterston, R. B.
Werth, A. J.
Wessels, J. B.
Tellers: Vermooten, O. S.; Wessels, J. H. B.
Brown, D. M.
Byron, J. J.
Deane, W. A.
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.
Robinson, C. P.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Smuts, J. C.
Struben, R. H.
Van Heerden, G.
Van Zyl, G. B.
Tellers: Collins, W. R.; de Jager, A. L.
Motion accordingly agreed to.
Bill read a third time.
Message received from the Senate returning the Co-operative Societies Act, 1922, Amendment Bill, with a consequential amendment.
On the motion of the Prime Minister the amendment was considered.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Second Order read: Provincial Subsidies and Taxation Powers (Amendment) Bill, as amended by the Senate, to be considered.
On the motion of the Minister of Finance the amendments were considered.
Amendments in Clauses 2 (Dutch), 8 (Dutch). 9, 11 (Dutch), 12, and in the first schedule, put and agreed to.
Third Order read: House to go into committee on the Merchant Shipping (Certificates of Competency) Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 1,
I want to call attention to a curious discrepancy between the English and Dutch versions. In line 17 of the English version you have “home trade ship” and the equivalent in the Dutch version is “passagierschip.” I move that “passagier” comes out.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 4,
There is a point that struck me in connection with this clause about which I would like the assurance of the Minister. It states that certificates of competency granted by foreign countries will be recognized by South Africa in respect of that particular ship, and it struck me that we might have a case of a young man who has learned his seamanship in a foreign ship and if he leaves that ship and wishes to enter our mercantile marine he would not be able to do so with the certificate in his possession, which only covers the foreign ship in question. Say a man gets a certificate of competency on a Dutch ship would it bar him from entering our mercantile marine?
He could come in under sub-section (2). To meet this position we put in Clause 4 (2) which would cover the case provided the certificate of competency is of a grade appropriate to the officer’s station in the ship. It will have to stand like this otherwise we should upset the general working of the merchant shipping laws.
This matter was brought to my attention by one of the directors of a shipping company and if the words “not registered as a British ship” were taken out they would be protected. Sub-clause (2) gives the Governor-General the right on enquiry to grant a certificate. If we had a British ship captained by a Norwegian and a vacancy Occurred, before they could appoint another Norwegian they must satisfy the Governor-General that they cannot get a British captain in the whole Union. It is a matter of business. I am told the same position exists in England and the late Lord Leverhulme registered a company owning whaling ships in Norway because of the difficulty of satisfying the English Board of Trade. I move—
I am afraid if this amendment is adopted the object the Minister has in view will be defeated. I quite appreciate that the Minister is desirous, as far as practicable, that if there are men available locally to do this work they should be employed in preference to foreign seamen. I should like to say I have had a communication only to-day with regard to this clause, and there is considerable uneasiness in the whaling industry. I have told them the assurance the Minister gave that it is not the intention of the authorities, to interfere with the whaling industry, or with the men who are commonly employed in it; provided that there are no men available locally to fill these places. I understand the Minister is satisfied that sub-section (2) meets that position. I have given them that assurance_ and also the definition which has been altered as to foreign-going ships.
The words “foreign-going ships” do not occur here.
That covers whalers and sealers. I am afraid if this amendment is carried it will defeat the object the Minister has in view.
May I point out that it can not do so, because if my amendment is carried you would still have to satisfy the Governor-General that your certificate is good, and after all we know what we are dealing with; we know that the vast majority of captains, mates and engineers are of British nationality; but for a few special trades like whaling and sealing they do not go in for them. If it remains as it is you may have to put these people to such trouble as to be in the position in which Lord Leverhulme found himself when he had to register in Norway. You may find a man, for instance, in Durban, who will say he is suitable, but the owners of the ship are the people who have to pay. They may say “We don’t want you, we want Mr. So-and-so, who happens to be a Norwegian.” But the Minister says they must employ this man. South Africans will then say that they are being forced to employ a man whom they may not consider fitted to do the work. It is only in very special circumstances this will arise.
The position is not yet quite clear. The sections to which the hon. Minister has referred do not seem to assist us very much. The certificate referred to in the clause is only valid in respect of the foreign ship while the man remains on that ship. If he leaves that ship, what is then his position? Must he pass another examination, or is the foreign certificate sufficient?
In order to meet that specific point we have put in this sub-clause (2), where you will see, if the Governor-General so decides, the certificate he has got will be regarded as valid under this Act for the post he holds in the ship. Clause 3 first of all provides that in the ease of ships registered under the Merchant Shipping Act, the certificates held by their officers under that Act Shall be regarded as competent. We then say in Clause 4, that in any other ship, not registered as a British ship, if there is reciprocity—as there is in most countries—the holder of the certificate of his own country will be recognized as the holder of a certificate equal in value to our own. You are only concerned with the officers on a ship; you are not concerned with officers on shore. Then we come to the further point, raised by the hon. member for Ceres (Mr. Roux). It is said that on certain ships registered as British ships, such as whalers, it is difficult to get Britishers or South Africans as officers; what is being done to meet the position here? In sub-section (2) we say we will grant them exemption from this Act, and we will recognize the certificates they have got as certificates of competency to work on British ships. The whaling people came to see me. The original Bill made no provision for them. I agreed with their point of view and said I would meet them. I thought it was reasonable, and for that reason this sub-section has been put in. That meets the position as far as we possibly can meet it. If we go much further than this we will not get reciprocity with Great Britain. If we go different to the general international law on this point—we are stretching it already —I am afraid they will not recognize the validity of our Act. I am satisfied the position is met; I would like hon. members not to press it any further.
Amendments put and negatived.
Clause, as printed, agreed to.
On Clause 10,
By the Cape Colony Act and by the Natal Act it is provided that these papers should be forwarded to the Governor, now the Governor-General. I do not understand whether the Minister now means these papers should be sent to the chief customs officer. If it means that the Governor-General need no longer confirm the finding, then this should stand; but there is nothing to show that this provision is repealed both in the Cape Colony Act and the Natal Act. Personally, I can see no reason for this, because we naturally want the finding of a court to be communicated to the Governor-General, and we want the Governor-General alone to deal with it. I would suggest, therefore, that it should remain as it is at present, namely, that any finding will be forwarded to the Governor-General, who will finally decide whether a man shall be deprived of his certificate or not. I move—
There is only this point, that under the laws as they now stand, this statement has to go to the Governor-General. Is there any objection to the chief customs officer doing it? Anyhow, I don’t object to the amendment.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 13,
I want to move a small amendment, so as to alter the phrasing—
Does not the Minister want the same amendment in line 57 of the clause? Exactly the same thing occurs.
Yes, I move—
Amendments put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 16,
I am doing this because I want the evidence so taken to be forwarded to the Governor-General. The position is that if we send it to the magistrate he is going to have the evidence before him before he tries the man. Both in our Acts and the Merchant Shipping Act the evidence has to be forwarded to the party who has to decide whether the court of enquiry is to be brought into being. By deleting these words and substituting “the Governor-General,” the evidence which is taken before the enquiry takes place will be forwarded to the Governor-General, who will then bring into being the court of enquiry, and the court of enquiry will go into the evidence without being in any way prejudiced. Thereafter, when the report is made by the court of enquiry to the Governor-General, the Governor-General can go into the evidence previously taken together with the finding of the court, and come to a decision in regard to the certificate. That will bring the procedure into line with the English Merchant Shipping Act, the Governor-General taking the place of the board of trade.
The amendment no doubt improves the position, but it does not entirely meet the objections which have been put, because it is clear, from what the hon. member says, that this evidence, as it is called, taken by a person who is not a judicial officer, can be used by the Governor-General for confirming or rejecting the finding of the court. I think we ought to safeguard that in some way. I have given notice of an amendment to this clause, containing two provisoes. The Minister says he is in a difficulty about the first, because the collector of customs who will take this evidence does not know the rules of evidence. I think it is a pity that anybody should be put to do that work unless he is experienced in the rules of evidence. The second proviso contained in my amendment is that if a person giving evidence wishes, he may be allowed to have legal assistance. I understand that the Minister has no objection to that. Possibly that would meet the position, because if it is the collector of customs who is to be appointed and not a legally trained man, there would be some difficulty in asking him to carry out rules which he knows nothing about. I also understand that it is not the idea to have a judicial investigation, but what is really intended is to get certain particulars which are known as the wreck report, questions that have become stereotyped as a result of experience in England and other countries. Under the circumstances I will content myself with moving only the second portion of the amendment in my name on the paper, viz.—
I would like to suggest to the Minister whether he could not get over a good deal of this difficulty by a slight alteration of the wording of this section. I understand, as the hon. member has just said, that what is wanted is not that the principal officer of customs shall go and hold an enquiry on the ship, but that he shall go there and have power to get certain facts of a well-ascertained type. In that case would it not be better, instead of saying that he may take such evidence from the master and officers and crew of the ship as he may deem expedient,” which leaves him with power to carry on a roving enquiry, to say, “as may be prescribed by regulations? Then the Minister can prescribe regulations laying down the forms which are to be used and prevent the officer from going on board and holding a sort of general enquiry into the conduct of the master, officers and crew. I move—
I still think that the Minister would be well advised to leave out this clause altogether, but, if he feels that it should be retained, then I agree with the proposal which the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) has submitted. I cannot quite agree with the suggestion that the principal officer of customs should be confined to putting certain prescribed questions. I think it is desirable that he should be allowed to put the form of questions that is suggested here, but, having done that, he should send that report, not to the magistrate, but to the Governor-General. The Governor-General simply uses that information either to frame a series of charges against the individual or not. Under the law in Natal and, I think, also in the Cape, whenever that enquiry or that charge is commenced, then the person concerned is supplied with a copy of the charges, and knows what he has to meet. I am afraid that, if the suggestion of the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover St.) (Mr. Alexander) is adopted, that the persons examined are to be entitled to be represented in the first instance by lawyers, the conduct of this enquiry will be very much delayed. For my own part I think the Minister will find that he is going to have further difficulties. If he is persistent in regard to this matter, I think the least harm will be done if the suggestion of the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) is adopted. Let the information go to the Government and stop there.
I appreciate the amendments which have been moved; they are all designed to make the Bill more workable and more practicable. In the first instance, the objection is that the information goes to, and the statements are taken down by, the principal officer of customs, and then, instead of their being sent to the magistrate, as the Bill provides, they should be sent to the Governor-General. I want to move an amendment that the Governor-General shall have power to delegate his powers to the Minister in charge of the department. Then he can take what action he thinks fit in regard to that statement. Then the question comes as to whether the party concerned should be legally represented or have the assistance of some lawyer at the time when the evidence is taken by the principal officer of customs. I am informed that these statements are not taken down without there being present a lawyer belonging to the seamen’s union. For that reason I have no objection whatever to accepting the amendment of the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street).
I think the Minister is misinformed in that particular. I happen to fill that capacity in Natal and I have never been present at a preliminary enquiry of this description, and I can see that the Minister is building up a lot of trouble for himself.
I might point out that it is optional whether a man shall have legal assistance or not. I have no objection to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan).
I am rather sorry that the Minister has agreed to accept the amendment of the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan), because we are going further and further away from the Merchant Shipping Act, instead of coming closer to it. The Merchant Shipping Act gives that power quite clearly. Now we are going to take that away. What about our reciprocity? I agree with the amendment of the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) if the Minister is going to have his way and get the Governor-General to delegate powers and perhaps delegate his powers to the magistrate, again where are we? That is exactly what we wish to guard against. I think that is a very dangerous position. I think this evidence should be used here in the same way that it is used in England. It should be sent on to the authority that decides whether the case should be tried or not.
That is what will happen.
You propose to ask the Governor-General to delegate his powers. He may delegate them to the magistrate. There is no knowing what some people will do, and I ask the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) to reconsider the position. The Merchant Shipping Act is perfectly clear. These people take the evidence, and it is merely sent on not to the court trying the case, but to the person deciding on an enquiry, and I think we should try to keep as near as possible to the Merchant Shipping Act.
I only want to suggest a little improvement, to add at the end of the hon. member’s amendment—
because all the power is vested in the Governor-General in this Bill.
Yes, I agree.
In regard to the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl), he will see there is very little difference between the present Bill and as amended by the hon. member for Yeoville; because what we want to do is to lay down certain lines on which facts will be elicited, and they can be made just as wide or as narrow as may be required; I think it is an improvement.
I listened with surprise to the hon. member for Durban (Central) (Mr. Robinson). Everybody knows that, when a man is defended, the time occupied in the examination of witnesses is very considerably shortened. When a man appears without any legal representative, he puts a rambling statement, and undefended cases take far more time in cross-examination than when a legal representative appears. The reason given by the hon. member, that because the man is going to be represented, it is going to lengthen the enquiry, is contrary to my experience, as only such questions will be put up as the legal representative considers relevant, and the Minister has stated that the Seamen’s Union have their regular representative. According to the hon. member for Durban (Central), he is not supposed to go to these inquiries. What his duties are I do not know; but when a man’s whole future career is at stake, one would expect that he would wish the representative of the union to be present. If the man wishes to have the representative present, he should not be prevented from doing so, and I am glad the Minister has accepted the amendment.
I wish to move an amendment—
Amendments put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 17,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
New Clause 18,
Clause 18 will become Clause 19, and Clause 19 will become Clause 20.
I do not see what the objective of this amendment is, nor do I think it desirable. I think it is unnecessary.
As the Bill now stands, all these certificates of competency, and cancellations, etc., have to be signed in person by the Governor-General. At one time in the United Kingdom they used to be signed by the King himself, and now they are signed by the head of the Board of Trade. It seems to me that it would be a very cumbersome arrangement if the administration of this Bill is to be done by the Governor-General in person, not the Governor-General-in-Council, but the Governor-General in person. The Minister of Finance, for instance, should have the powers to carry out the administration of this Act. It is going to be almost unworkable if it is left to the Governor-General. According to the Interpretation Act “Governor-General” does not mean “Governor-General-in-Council”.
Yes, it does.
It would be very cumbersome for the Governor-General-in-Council to deal with them all. It would be better for it to be done by the Minister.
New Clause put and agreed to.
Title put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; to be considered now.
On Clause 16,
I strongly recommend the Minister to take the advice of his officials, notwithstanding the remarks of the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander). Supposing there is a wreck or disaster that demands immediate investigation. A customs official goes to the vessel and wants to question the captain or officers, and they say: “We will not reply until we have our legal advisers present.” These enquiries are not necessarily the prelude to a prosecution, but are the same sort of enquiry that is held under the immigration law. An immigrant does not have an opportunity of sending for a lawyer before he answers the questions put to him. I am the last to put an obstacle in the way of members of my profession to prevent them earning an honest shilling, but the Minister should make further enquiry, even at the risk of incurring the anger of the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street), for there is a possibility of great abuses under his proposal. When it comes to an official enquiry by all means let the men have legal advice.
If the hon. member for Durban (Central) (Mr. Robinson) cannot find stronger arguments than the ones he has adduced for the doing away of the right that every citizen possesses to have the best legal advice possible we need not devote much attention to his arguments. I do not propose that an enquiry should stand over indefinitely, but only that reasonable time be given to a man to obtain legal assistance. Even on shore the court does not wait for a lawyer to arrive. A man will be given reasonable opportunity to obtain the services of a lawyer, but if the lawyer did not attend the enquiry would go on without him. I have just as much experience in my profession as the hon. member for Durban (Central). It is an elementary principle of justice that a man who is going to be affected possibly to the extent of the whole means of his livelihood, is entitled to have expert legal assistance. If the matter is urgent, the matter should be dealt with at once, but the officers would have at least an hour or two’s notice. The analogy of the immigration law is absolutely beside the point. Under the immigration law you were not asked any questions before you filled up a form which you have had in your possession for a couple of weeks. If an immigrant is prohibited from landing he can have every legal assistance.
It seems to me there is some misunderstanding, but even at the risk of being considered ridiculous, I must join issue with the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander), who has forgotten that the papers are not to be sent to the magistrate, and that the Minister has limited the enquiry to set questions. That being the case I cannot see why it is necessary for a lawyer to be present, although it may be injudicious for me as an attorney to say that. The officers of the ship are merely required to answer a set of questions to enable the Minister to decide whether an enquiry should be held or not. Suppose a wreck takes place at Cape Agulhas and the officers of the ship cannot get ashore for a month and a legal adviser cannot be got to go out to them, is the enquiry to be held up all that time? Unless the answers to the questions are given at an early date you might as well wait for the ordinary magisterial enquiry.
I want to support the hon. member for Durban (Central) (Mr. Robinson), and I will remind the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) that abuse is no argument. Suppose there is a wreck along the coast an official will go out with a schedule of questions, and it is not necessary that a lawyer should be present when those questions are replied to. The customs officials must get to the scene as soon as possible; the officers concerned might say—
and then they would have to send to Cape town or the nearest centre for an attorney. Under these circumstances the Government officials would have to wait a day or two before they could make their preliminary enquiry. The acceptance of the amendment will create trouble and lead to delay.
This has been passed in committee. I he case put up by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) seemed to me to be a sound case. I cannot conceive of these difficulties arising. Supposing the ship was away from the harbours. As the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) says if a man is unreasonable and waits for a lawyer the opinion of the chief customs official it is essential to get information, he would proceed to get what information he could. In nine cases out of ten the Seamen’s Guild have got their lawyers there. I admit there might be some difficulties, but I do not see why I should resist the proposal. If he wants to have a lawyer then let him have one. I feel my hon. friends are making a mountain out of a molehill. It is a practice in Cape Town, and there should be no objection to it being put in.
You have not had this form of enquiry here before.
We have not had the power of the law behind us to enforce the information. They had it in Natal, and they could only make their statements in accordance with the laws before a magistrate and two assessors. This is not a very vital matter, after all, and in my opinion the Bill will work as well with it in as with it out, and if it is any protection whatever and will not cause delay, then for the sake of those who want to take advantage of it, we might as well have it.
If the Minister is satisfied, well and good. As the amendment is worded, however, it gives the master of a ship or a member of a crew power to refuse to answer questions if he has not a lawyer with him.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Remaining amendments put and agreed to.
The Bill, as amended, was adopted and read a third time.
Message received from the Senate returning the New Cape Central Railway Acquisition Bill, with amendments.
Amendments to be considered to-morrow.
Message received from the Senate returning the Pensions (Supplementary) Bill, with an amendment.
On the motion of the Minister of Finance, the amendment was considered.
I think it has always been considered by this House that a Pensions Bill must be regarded as one of the Bills in which the Senate is not entitled to make any alteration. Clause 1 of the Bill reads—
This has always been regarded as creating a charge on the revenue of the Union and similar laws hitherto passed by Parliament have been accepted by the Auditor-General as sufficient authority for the Government to meet the commitments provided for. In these circumstances it seems to me that this is a Bill which falls under section 60 of the South Africa Act and that the Senate therefore has not the power to make the amendment it proposes. I am accordingly unable to put the amendment to the House and will submit a message to-morrow embodying what I consider to be the views of the House in the matter.
The House adjourned at