House of Assembly: Vol1 - MONDAY 5 JUNE 1961
The House met at 12.0 noon in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 25 of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, 1961, pursuant to a resolution adopted by the House of Assembly (Fourth Session, Twelfth Parliament, Union of South Africa) on 22 May 1961.
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair and read prayers.
At the commencement of the proceedings of the House of Assembly of the First Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, I wish to say a few words about the mace which is being used for the first time to-day.
When the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders considered various matters consequent upon the change over to the new form of government, it was decided that the mace should be retained as the traditional symbol of the authority of the House acting through its Speaker.
The new mace is a temporary one made of South African stinkwood and will be used until a permanent mace gilded with South African gold, can be made. It was designed with the approval of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders after consultation with the Chairman of the Heraldry Society of Southern Africa and the work was executed by a South African sculptor.
The heraldic devices used in the decoration of the mace are derived from the State coat of arms and those of the four provinces. The only flower in the State coat of arms, the protea, is used in various motifs on the staff of the mace. The two bosses represent precious stones. The original settlement at the Cape is symbolized at the base of the mace by the anchor of Good Hope and the trek to the interior by a number of ox waggons. Higher up are three representations of the Chapman, the first ship to bring 1820 settlers to our country. The head of the mace displays the escutcheons of the four provinces and the top is circled by three fully decorated State coats of arms with the mottoes in Afrikaans, English and Latin. Within the circle is the ground plan of the castle of Good Hope, the oldest seat of authority in South Africa.
I sincerely hope and pray that this symbolic portrayal of the history of our people and symbol of our parliamentary tradition, will be a constant reminder to members to uphold at all times the dignity of the proceedings of this House.
Mr. SPEAKER announced that he had received a letter from the Secretary to the House of Assembly informing him that the Hon. Mr. Justice Holmes, duly authorized thereto by the State President, had to-day administered the oath or affirmation in terms of Sections 52 and 115 of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, 1961, to the members present.
Mr. SPEAKER laid upon the Table:
Commission from the State President, dated 5 June 1961, authorizing the Hon. H. J. Klopper, Speaker of the House of Assembly, to administer, during the continuance of the First Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, the Oath or Affirmation required by Sections 52 and 115 of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, 1961, to such members of the House of Assembly as have not made and subscribed to such Oath or Affirmation on or since the morning of the first meeting of the House of Assembly on 5 June 1961.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
That the following Address be presented to the State President:
We assure you of our cordial co-operation in the exercise of the duties of the high office to which you have been called.
It is our earnest hope and prayer that, with the blessing of Almighty God, you may long be spared in the service of our country and our people.
Business suspended at 12.12 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
STATE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS
I have to report that at a joint gathering of Members of the Senate and the House of Assembly this afternoon I presented to the State President an illuminated address in the terms adopted by the House earlier to-day.
The State President then delivered an Address to Members of both Houses, of which I have received a copy, as follows:
MENEER DIE PRESIDENT EN LEDE VAN DIE SENAAT:
MENEER DIE SPEAKER EN LEDE VAN DIE VOLKSRAAD:
Vir my is hierdie byeenkoms ’n heel besondere geleentheid, soos dit ook vir land en volk ’n nuwe mylpaal aandui. Die eer om die eerste Staatspresident van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika te wees en om die eerste amptelike intreerede vandag te mag lewer, dank ek aan u wat my tot hierdie hoë roeping gekies het. Terwyl ek u van my waardering daarvoor verseker, beloof ek plegtig om te alle tye na die uiterste van my vermoë daarna te strewe om aan al die vereistes van hierdie verantwoordelike amp te voldoen. My dienste, my hart en gees wil ek meer as ooit tevore toewy aan volk en vaderland. Mag die Allerhoogste my daartoe genade skenk. Vir u vriendelike adresse met ondernemings van trou en steun, bring ek u ook my opregte dank.
By hierdie geskiedkundige geleentheid wil ek kortliks hulde bring aan almal wat ons vaderland help bou het, vanaf die vroegste dae tot vandag toe. Die leiers en die werkers van geslag tot geslag, uit velerlei afstamming. en arbeidsaam op baie terreine, het hier ’n nuwe nasie geskep en ’n eie land ontgin. Aan hulle het ons te danke alles wat ons besit, beide aan geestelike en aan materiële goedere. Ons, die kinders van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika, sal ons skuld aan die voorgeslagte moet betaal deur in die huidige en die komende tye onvermoeid en onbevrees voort te bou aan die geluk en die voorspoed van hul erfgename.
My Regering wil sy blydskap daaroor uitspreek dat die totstandkoming van die Republiek rustig kon plaasvind. Diegene wat in diens van die Staat vir vrede en orde gesorg het, verdien ’n spesiale woord van lof en dank. Inderdaad was die eerste tree op die pad van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika gelukkig. In ’n tyd van wêreldonrus, veroorsaak deur magte wat ook Suid-Afrika nie graag onaangetas wou laat nie, het ons volk se gebruiklike gesonde verstand, sy sin vir orde en sy vaderlandsliefde getriomfeer.
In die nuwe era wag veral vier take op die Republikeinse regering.
Die eerste is die skepping, in belang van die onderskeie rassegroepe, van goeie verhoudings, ’n gesonde naasbestaan en altyd groeiende welvaart. Omdat hierdie oogmerk reeds so dikwels die middelpunt gevorm het van bekendgestelde regeringsbeleid, word hier slegs weer eens benadruk dat voortdurende beplanning en ontwikkelingswerksaamhede op alle betrokke terreine van kernbelang deur die Regering geag word. Geregtigheid aan elkeen, en vooruitgang binne elke rassegroep se eie kring tot op die hoogste lewenspeil, bly die doelwit van al my Regering se handel en wandel.
Die tweede groot taak waaraan die Regering onophoudelik sal arbei, is die verstewiging van die landsekonomie. Op ekonomiese gebied het Suid-Afrika sedert Wereldoorlog II geweldige vordering gemaak, en daar bestaan alle rede om te verwag dat hierdie vordering in die komende dekades gehandhaaf sal word. Weliswaar het Suid-Afrika, soos alle ander lande, van tyd tot tyd terugslae ondervind, en kan ons verwag dat daar in die toekoms ook terugslae sal wees. Maar die inherente krag van ons land en van sy mense. sowel as die basiese gesondheid van ons ekonomie, is waarbog daarvoor dat die toekoms een van volgehoue vooruitgang en van stygende lewenstandaarde vir alle dele van ons bevolking sal wees.
In hierdie suidpunt van die groot Vasteland van Afrika, is die kragte van die beskawing, en die wetenskap van die moderne wêreld, aangewend om, in samewerking met die inheemse bevolking, ’n bloeiende ekonomie op te bou uit die rykdomme van sy bodem en uit die hulpbronne waarmee hy verder geseënd is.
Oor ver verlate vlaktes het die voorgeslagte hulle versprei om voedsel in oorvloed uit moederaarde te haal. Die dieptes van die Suid-Afrikaanse see is gepeil, en lewer ryk oeste. Oor sy ewige gebergtes dreun die werktuie van moderne vooruitgang. Hier is die Suid-Afrikaner se plase en wonings opgebou. Hier het hy sy dorpe en stede en moderne fabrieke aangelê. Suid-Afrika is op nywerheidsgebied die hoogste ontwikkelde land in Afrika. Nêrens in Afrika, en nie in baie plekke elders in die wêreld nie, word sulke prestasies—ten bate van homself en ander—deur so ’n klein volk in so ’n groot land in so ’n kort tyd, geëwenaar nie. Hier is geskep en word gehandhaaf, vir elke groep van die bevolking, ’n lewenstandaard wat gelykstaan aan enige in die ganse wêreld onder vergelykbare volkeregroepe. En dit oortref die meeste. Dié prestasies van die verlede is die fondament waarop die Republiek van Suid-Afrika ’n groot toekoms kan bou.
Daar is ongetwyfeld moeilike vraagstukke op finansiële en ekonomiese gebied waarmee hierdie land (soos die grootstes van die wêreld!) tans te kampe het. My Regering is egter oortuig dat hierdie vraagstukke opgelos kan word, en dat Suid-Afrika eersdaags ’n tydperk van hernieude ontwikkeling sal binnegaan.
Oor die afgelope vyftien maande het Suid-Afrika met ’n aansienlike daling van sy buitelandse betaalmiddele te kampe gehad. Hierdie daling is nie aan enige besondere, of inherente, swakheid in sy ekonomiese struktuur te wyte nie. Op lopende rekening het die land in hierdie tydperk trouens beter gevaar as in tydperke toe sy goud- en valutabesit sterker gestaan het. Die daling is merendeels toe te skrywe aan ’n uitvloei van kapitaal, wat sy oorsprong gehad het in ’n onsekerheid as gevolg van propaganda en onkunde, en veral in vrees oorsee vir toekomstige ontwikkelinge op die vasteland van geheel Afrika, nie soseer van Suid-Afrika alleen nie.
Met die doel om die ekonomie van ons land te versterk en te stimuleer, het my Regering onlangs sekere maatreëls aangekondig. Hy glo dat dit gewens was om betyds voorsorg te maak. Die stappe wat reeds gedoen is, behoort te lei tot verstewiging van die finansiële posisie van die land as geheel.
Sulke stappe het as doel gehad nie alleen om die vraag na buitelandse valuta ter betaling van invoere te verminder nie, maar ook om binnelandse produksie te verhoog. My Regering glo dat nyweraars, ook uit die buiteland, hierdie guide geleentheid ten volle sal benut, maar verwag dat iedere landsburger terselfdertyd ook ag sal slaan op die oproep tot groter ondersteuning van wat die Republiek van Suid-Afrika self kan produseer.
MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE:
MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY:
The extensive programmes recently announced for the expansion of the operations of Government controlled undertakings such as Iscor, Escom and Sasol are conclusive proof of the Government’s own faith in the future economic growth of the Republic of South Africa. These expansion programmes will involve an estimated capital expenditure of R2,000,000,000 during the next 12 years. The projects envisaged, which will be financed mainly from funds possessed by the undertakings themselves, will contribute appreciably to the strengthening and the stimulation of the economy as a whole. It is expected that great new fields of development and investment will thus be opened up.
However, my Government is aware of the fact that the aims of greater prosperity and a happier life for all sections of the population can only be achieved if not merely the material but also the human resources of the country are developed to the fullest possible extent. For that reason the Government has set itself the aim of not only encouraging a greater degree of local processing and refinement of the raw materials with which nature has endowed South Africa so abundantly, but more particularly also of training and fully utilizing our human potential. Special attention will be devoted to the application of science in industry and elsewhere and the creation of proper opportunities for our scientifically trained personnel.
The third major objective of my Government will be to improve international understanding of South Africa’s policies, and their aims.
I enter on my duties as State President at a time of increased international uncertainty and tension—at a time when the stability from which international life must derive its health and creative vigour continues to be seriously impaired by forces of disruption and disunity. The mounting troubles in Europe and especially in Asia, in the Caribbean and, nearer home, in Africa, threaten to destroy the very foundations upon which our Western civilization is founded. These developments cannot but be viewed with growing concern by my Government.
The world has moved into a new era in which modern science and technology have invested mankind with power which, if employed for destructive purposes, must have disastrous consequences. Unless, therefore, the restraining influences of justice and morality—properly conceived—are permitted to operate freely in the international sphere, mankind may well be marching to its own destruction.
The United Nations, set up by the statesmen assembled at San Francisco in 1945 as a world organization for the purpose of preserving peace and security, is failing in its objects. The sovereignty of states is being violated and their internal affairs invaded. South Africa has, under different governments and for the past 15 years, been subjected to this treatment, which my Government will continue to resist by every means at its disposal. South Africa must, and will, maintain its right to manage its own affairs.
Faced as we are with unique problems, South Africa’s traditional relations with other Western states are being subjected to strains which only time and patience can relieve. My Government is confident that our friendships, rooted in history, will survive the impact of the misunderstandings and suspicions which at present cloud our relations. To this end, my Government will persevere in its efforts to give visible proof of the true values which underlie its approach to South Africa’s problems.
The foreign policy of my Government accords full recognition to the inalienable right of all nations to achieve completely sovereign independence. It also respects the inviolability of each nation’s distinctive identity. It is in this spirit that my Government has extended the hand of friendship to the new states of Africa and expressed the desire to co-operate with them in matters of common concern. My Government’s African policy will continue to be governed by these principles.
Unfortunately there are emergent states in Africa which are being subjected to outside interference, with the result that bloodshed and disorder threaten to impede the development of this continent in the interests of all its inhabitants. It is our prayer that the world will soon return to a saner and safer international outlook and life. We in South Africa, preoccupied as we are with our own affairs, will seek to mobilize all our material and moral resources to meet the greatest challenge of our time.
Fourthly, it is the heartfelt desire of my Government that this nation will become fundamentally more truly united than ever before, notwithstanding the existence of such political differences as are natural to all nations. It will devote itself firmly to the attainment of this end. The foundation for such unity was laid long ago—also in spite of the then existing stresses and strains. On this foundation we must continue to build, whatever differences we may now have, and no matter whether the times ahead prove to be difficult or not. In times of sorrow we have often mourned together. May we also find ourselves a united nation when either problems to face, or prosperity to bear, becomes our common lot.
It is my hope and my wish that the Republic of South Africa may prosper and flourish, living in amity with all other nations and peoples, and providing peace and happiness to all its children.
MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE:
MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY:
May you in your deliberations constantly be guided by only the highest principles and motives, and may the future and well-being of our Republic be ensured by the blessing of Almighty God.
First Order read: House to go into Committee on Water Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 2,
I move the amendment standing in my name—
To omit the proposed new sub-section (1) and to substitute the following new subsection:
- (1) The Minister shall, subject to the laws governing the public service, from time to time appoint an officer to be styled the Secretary for Water Affairs, who shall exercise the powers and perform the functions conferred or imposed upon the secretary by this Act.
Mr. Chairman, with reference to this amendment, I would like to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that provision is now being made in Clause 1 for deleting the definition of the word “Director” and substituting in its place the definition of “Secretary”. Originally Section 2 provided that the Secretary, under the supervision of the Minister, is responsible for the implementation of the Act. Now the hon. the Minister has given notice that in place of that section another section will be inserted as appears on page 708. It has precisely the same wording as is contained in the Act to-day, except that the word “Director” is replaced by the word “Secretary”. I would like to put it to the hon. the Minister that Section 2, as it stands now, read with Clause 1 of the Bill, in fact provides for the word “Director” to be changed to the word “Secretary”, and in those circumstances it is therefore not necessary to insert a clause such as the one that the Minister has given notice of.
I agree with the hon. member for Ceres (Mr. Muller), but I am not a lawyer and the law advisers insist that I should nevertheless retain it in the Act and make this change. To me it is quite logical that Section 1 by implication contains everything I am suggesting in this clause, but I do so on their advice.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 4,
I had quite a lot to say during the second reading debate with regard to Clause 4. Inter alia, I brought to the notice of the House that as this clause stands now it obviously goes further than the Department intended it to go. In the explanatory notes which were made available to us it was said that the clause was now being amended in the way suggested by Clause 4 (b) because the present Section 11 only provides for the abstraction of the normal flow and not for the abstraction of surplus water also. In my second reading speech I argued that this was not the case and that the present Section 11 of the principal Act makes provision for public waters, and public water includes the normal flow as well as surplus water. To that the hon. the Minister replied at the time by way of interjection that it should be stated more clearly. I have no objection to its being stated more clearly, but I do object to the section, as it is now being amended, being made much wider than was envisaged by the Department itself and that by implication it means that many riparian owners would be deprived of their rights. I just want to state the matter briefly again. In the case of surplus water our law says that the upper riparian owner can take as much water as he can use on his land without wasting any. In other words, if he has 100 morgen which he can irrigate, he can divert enough surplus water for 100 morgen, but not more than for 100 morgen. Now the Minister comes along with an amendment which says that the court will be empowered, in the case of surplus water, to allow any amount to be abstracted. By implication that will mean that the court will also have the power to authorize more water being removed than is required for 100 morgen. That will mean that the lower owners will be harmed, because in the case of our surplus water, when the top owner has taken enough water for his irrigation requirements, the next owner may take water, and so on lower down the river. If the upper owner were to take more water than he is entitled to, it is obvious that the next one would be harmed. I do not think that is what the Department intends here, and I think it will have the effect that the rights of people will be derogated from whilst in fact the Department does not want that to take place. The words which should be inserted in Section 11 after the words “that portion” are the following: “or in the case of surplus water, that quantity of water authorized by the said court”. It can be any quantity; it may be much more than the man is entitled to. Now I want to suggest that those words may possibly be changed to read “or in the case of surplus water, that quantity of water to which he is entitled according to his irrigable land”. That is what the Department wants. The Department does not want to take away more water than the man concerned is entitled to, but as it stands now it gives the courts the power to allow more water to be abstracted than the man is entitled to. At the moment there is no such amendment before the Committee, but I make this suggestion to the Minister for his consideration. I think the solution is that if the hon. the Minister does not see his way clear to accepting such an amendment now, this clause should rather stand over to be considered to-morrow.
When I dealt with the apportionment of water, which is mainly dealt with under Clause 12, the hon. the Minister asked two or three times what is the normal flow and what is surplus water. Now under this Clause 4 the White Paper says this, that “paragraph (a) of sub-section (2) of Section 11 deals only with normal flow and, to enable a local authority or any other person to use surplus water on non-riparian ground or for any other purpose, it is considered necessary to put it clearly that surplus water also falls under the jurisdiction of the Water Court, in the event of the court finding that it cannot issue an order in an application to dispose of the surplus water”. Now the Minister tried to tell me that it is very difficult to define the normal flow, and he asked what normal flow was? In this amending clause he deals not only with normal flow but also with surplus water. Does he find the same difficulty in defining surplus water? I think it is incumbent upon the Minister to tell us what the normal flow is and what surplus water is because here we are dealing specifically with both. You cannot deal with the one without dealing with the other. As the Minister kept on interrupting my second reading speech when I was dealing with the apportionment of water in a water-controlled area, I would like the Minister to tell us what he thinks normal flow is and to give us a full definition of it.
Mr. Chairman, in regard to the matter raised by the hon. member for Ceres (Mr. Muller), I think he has raised a very interesting point and one which I consider should receive further consideration. I am prepared to move that Clause 4 should stand over to give us an opportunity to devote attention to the matter he mentioned, and if we find it necessary to do so we may perhaps move an amendment in the Report Stage which will cover his objection.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) has now asked me a very interesting question, viz. what is normal flow? I think that if one were to ask any group of people what the normal flow of any river was, one would perhaps receive ten different replies.
Order! This matter of normal flow is not relevant to this clause.
I understood the Minister to say that he was agreeable to this clause standing over so that he could consider the point raised, which I agree appears to be well founded. Then the Minister said that something could be done in the Report Stage. This is a long Bill. Will not the Minister agree to this clause standing over so that the law advisers can go into the point and we can then deal with it later? It is much more satisfactory to clear it up in the Committee Stage than to wait for the Report Stage.
I want to give my reasons for asking the Minister to define what normal flow is, because you cannot define what surplus water is unless you know what the normal flow is. Sir, you ruled me out of order, but I want to know what is surplus water, and how does the Minister define it. Then I went on to say that normal flow is the water in the channel of a river and any water that is surplus to normal flow is surplus water and you can only define surplus water if you can define normal flow. I ask the Minister to define surplus water. Will he give us a definition of surplus water in any river or in any water-controlled area, because you cannot decide what is surplus water unless you know what the normal flow is.
With your leave, seeing that the hon. member now asks me to define surplus water, I want to say that surplus water is that water in a public stream which cannot beneficially be used without damming or storing it. If the hon. member reads Section 1 of the principal Act he will learn what the normal flow is.
I have not yet had a satisfactory answer from the hon. the Minister. He says surplus water is water that you store.
No, I never said that.
But when the ordinary river is in flood it is full of surplus water, and unless I have an apportionment of that water as an irrigator I cannot use it without there being any question of a dam. I have two farms with rivers on the boundaries and when they are in flood they are full of surplus water.
Order! This clause does not deal with the definition of surplus water. Surplus water is defined in the principal Act.
It does not clarify here how he gets the apportionment of surplus water.
That has nothing to do with the clause.
It says that surplus water also falls under the jurisdiction of the Water Court, so I ask the Minister what is the surplus water he is talking about.
Order! That has nothing to do with the clause and the hon. member must obey my ruling.
I do not think it is necessary for us to go further into the legal implications of this clause, because I do not think this is the suitable place to do it, but I want to suggest that this clause stand over and that we continue with the other clauses, and that after dealing with the other clauses progress be reported and leave be asked to sit again so that we can consider this clause to-morrow or even later.
On Clause 6,
Clause 6 is very important because it particularly affects the towns. The amendment in Clause 6 to Section 21 of the principal Act is a good amendment in the right direction, but I want to suggest to the hon. the Minister that it does not go quite far enough. The amendment allows the Minister to specify standards on a regional basis and that is a very good thing indeed and very necessary. What it means is that previously under the Act it was felt that the Minister only had powers to lay down general standards affecting all areas in the country in regard to, e.g., sewage. Now the Minister can lay down specific standards in specific areas. That is a useful amendment, but I want to suggest that it does not go quite far enough and that the Minister should consider seriously whether he should not take further powers. This is important in relation to three particular points. The first is the question of the discharge of sewage into the sea. This matter was discussed fairly fully at the second reading by myself and others and I do not want to cover the same ground again and to give the reasons for the need for control of the discharge of effluent into the sea. The point I want to make now is that it seems to me that the Minister ought to have power to prohibit the discharge of effluent from a municipality into the sea in certain circumstances, and that he should have power to compel a municipality to discharge it on land and treat sewage on land, for two very important reasons. We are running very short of water in South Africa and the time will soon come when every gallon of water used will be precious. Also, the need for returning water to the land is vital—turning effluent on to the land. It seems to me that the Minister should have the power to return water to the land and to lay down that such effluent should be treated and turned into compost which can be used to raise the fertility of the soil. That is the first point I want to make.
My second point is that I feel the Minister should have power to determine how sewage should be treated on land, if it is not discharged into the sea. He should be allowed to lay down that a municipality should treat sewage in such a way as to make compost from the effluent so as to raise the fertility of agricultural land. The third important point is this. The hon. member for Kempton Park (Mr. F. S. Steyn) raised this point in the second reading. He asked whether the Minister of Water Affairs should be the Minister administering this particular clause. He raised the point whether the Minister of Water Affairs should exercise these powers, or whether it should not be the Minister of Economic Affairs. I have thought about this point because I think it is important. My own suggestion to the Minister is this. At the moment I feel that he should be allowed to retain this power, but I would suggest that it is obviously necessary that a good deal of consultation should take place with the Ministers of Economic Affairs and Health, and I wonder whether the Minister will consider the possibility of setting up a board or a committee or a council specifically charged with the problem of watching and controlling water supplies to the municipalities and the effluent of municipalities, and the whole of the use of water in towns, because, as I say, the time is coming when every gallon of water used will be precious to the country. I believe that such a committee can draw attention to directions in which water can be better controlled.
I accept the fact that the Minister needs these powers, but my complaint about it is that now after five years since the Act was promulgated the Minister finds that he wants a general standard for the whole country, and now he has come along with a clause which will empower him to lay down standards for each specific area, where the problems will be different. We know that on the South Coast of Natal the problem varies from river to river and from industry to industry. We know some of the problems with which the Minister has to deal, but we feel that the Minister has taken a very long time before discovering that it was necessary to lay down separate standards, as this clause entitles him to do for each particular problem. It shows quite clearly that until the Minister takes a more whole-hearted interest in dealing with the problems arising particularly from industrial water and the turning of effluent to the rivers and the sea, we will not get any of these measures carried out. Whilst we support it, I want to make the point most strongly that now that we are giving the Minister powers in this clause to lay down specific standards to deal with specific problems, he should get on and deal with those problems and not leave them for another five years before laying down a specific standard.
As the hon. member for Umlazi (Mr. H. Lewis) has said, the Minister needs these powers to deal with the different problems of the country and the different effluents. I agree with that, but I want to ask the Minister this. Where he has these powers, he should know what standards should be laid down and the methods by which sewage can be handled before it is put into the rivers or the sea. I raised this in my second reading speech in view of statements made by medical authorities that a very serious nuisance is caused on the beaches which is dangerous to health as the result of the discharge of effluent of untreated sewerage into the sea, and that is becoming a very great problem. I asked the Minister to reply to that in the second reading, but he did not. I want to ask him now to tell us whether he has issued any permits or exemptions to any local authorities to discharge untreated sewage into our public streams or the sea, where so much danger to health is caused, because the period of five years is up and they have not had exemption. Will the Minister tell us what the position is? The matter is dealt with in another clause and so I cannot deal with it here, but it is important for the Minister to inform this Committee where we stand in regard to this problem of effluent from sewage because it is a very pressing one in many areas and it is being abused. The fact that local authorities and factories are not taking any steps to mitigate the abuse is serious. I therefore ask whether the Minister has taken steps to withdraw permits and if so, for what period?
I just rise to reply to this question because of the importance of the matter of the effluent of industries and municipalities. The fact is that the principal Act provides that exemption can be granted for a certain period, for five years. The mere fact that the Act contains that provision proves that the Legislators, the authorities who considered that Act, realised that it was such an important matter that if the Act did not provide that those exemptions could be granted for such a period, it might paralyse all public activity. Furthermore, the Act provides that the Bureau of Standards is really the body to determine the standards for the purification of effluent. The Act further provided that we had to lay down standards for the Union, which of course made the practical implementation of the Act on this important point impossible, and consequently exemptions were of course granted and exemption certificates were issued. I cannot say now how many were granted and to whom. If the hon. member wants to know that, he can put a question to that effect on the Order Paper. But I want to assure the Committee that the mere fact that I am now asking for these amendments which will make it practicable to implement the Act more effectively should be assurance enough to hon. members that my Department and I are concentrating our attention on this matter. If we had passed this amendment last year already, we might have been able to show results now. But as the Act reads at present, with all its technical implications, it was just impracticable to implement it properly. We should not think that standards can be laid down in one year for all the effluents from factories. We shall have to tackle it systematically step by step. But I hope that when this amendment is accepted we shall be able to show greater progress in future.
I would like to ask the hon. the Minister, particularly arising out of the assurances which he has just given to the House, whether his Department has at any time had consultations with municipalities throughout the country. While we welcome the widening of these powers, and I imagine that these powers can never be sufficiently wide, local authorities in South Africa have had very vast and varied experience with regard to the purification of water for domestic as well as for industrial purposes. An organization such as the Rand Water Board which is the controlling authority of water on the Witwatersrand, had a great deal to do not long ago with the establishment of Sasol and certain important conditions were laid down with regard to the purification and the cleansing of the water that was abstracted from the Vaal River so as to avoid any effluent flowing into the Vaal River which contained too many chemicals and other components that were used in the process of extracting oil from coal. Local authorities of this country have made tremendous progress during the last few years in this regard. I believe here in the Western Province for instance new methods are being employed in the cleansing of sewage and effluent so much so that the effluent enters streams, I believe, probably as pure if not purer than it was when originally extracted. I think that the hon. the Minister should inform the House this evening that it would probably be wiser if instead of seeking powers in the hope of providing improved standards, it called a conference with the town engineers of this country and discuss with them certain important standards that can be laid down not only in the cities and towns which are particularly urban but some of those that are rural, or semi rural, where they have experience of flowing waters and rivers and streams and similar public sources of water supplies. It may interest the House to know that the local authorities in this country are perhaps as far advanced as any local authorities in the world. I would like the Minister to note, for instance, that the city engineer of Johannesburg, Dr. Hamlin, had built up a world-wide reputation for himself in the purification and re-use of effluent, so much so that some years ago he satisfied the public by actually drinking the purified effluent after it had been properly treated. There are standards in this country. I think instead of airy words that fall so easily from the lips of the Minister in answering our questions, we are entitled to expect something more substantial; instead of merely a general clause to cover what the Minister has in mind may take place, he should tell us that he is prepared to take steps to make use of all the information which is available in this country, all the experience that local authorities have acquired, so that this service can be rendered on a very much more accelerated basis. I think the complaint of members on this side of the House, particularly those who have anything to do with public streams and other sources of supply, is that the hon. the Minister is not moving fast enough in dealing with this important problem. I am not so terribly disturbed at the fact that we may eventually be faced with a shortage of water in this country because if we harness our water supply properly we can rest assured that we will have sufficient water in this country. But from the point of view of health and from the point of view of the proper use of our water supplies, it is essential that we should be as up to date as we possibly can, particularly through the Department, in dealing with the purification of water after it has been used for various purposes by the growing industrial concerns which are to-day playing such an important part in the development of this country. I think in particular of the South Coast of Natal where so many chemical components are entering the water prior to its being discharged back to its source of supply. There the utmost care is essential to ensure that the dangerous elements are properly treated and cleared before they have any chance of reaching a source of supply which may be used for domestic purposes. Obviously the right method cannot be laid down in a Clause in this Bill but it would be interesting to have an assurance from the hon. the Minister not that he is seeking powers, but that he is going to use those powers in harnessing all the knowledge available in the country to enable him to place this question of standards on a proper basis as soon as possible.
Order! The question of standards is not dealt with in this clause. This clause deals entirely with water derived from any specified public stream.
For a purpose, Sir, and that is to lay down standards for its eventual discharge. I do not wish to argue with the Chair, that is my interpretation. If I am wrong I am prepared to sit down.
Order! In that case the hon. member will have to sit down.
This clause deals with the purification of any waste water or effluent or waste produced by or resulting from the use of water for industrial purposes.
Order May I correct the hon. member right at the outset. This clause does not deal with the purification. It deals with the inclusion of such water; the purification is already dealt with in the Act.
Yes, Sir. I said the “use of water for industrial purposes”. That is what the clause says.
The clause does not deal with purification.
I was quoting from the Act itself. The Act goes on to say that the purification of that industrial water “shall form an integral part of the process” of the industry. It is an integral part of the industry, an integral part of the process of such use. The amendment that we have before us deals with the purification of that water as an integral part of the process and the Minister can provide standards, in terms of this amending Bill, “in relation to water derived from any specified public stream or in relation to water used in any prescribed area”. What can we do in regard to that water, Sir? We can provide standards of purification. I quote from Clause 6 of the Bill: “… in relation to water derived from any specified public stream or in relation to water used in any prescribed area” the Minister can lay down certain standards of purification in terms of the Act. Those standards must be laid down by the Minister after consultation with the Bureau of Standards. But the difficulty has been this that with the Act as it reads to-day, the Minister is only able to lay down those standards in regard to South Africa as a whole and industries as a whole. The purpose of this amendment is to allow the Minister to provide special standards in relation to water derived from a particular river or stream as it is called in the Bill, so that there can be one standard of purification in water taken for the same purpose from another regard to water taken from one river and there can be a different standard of purification for river. The power is being given to the Minister to differentiate in regard to the standards of purification as between river and river. But it goes further and it allows the Minister to differentiate in regard to the standard of purification as between area and area, that is area and area in which the water is used. He can differentiate in regard to the abstraction of water from river or river; he can differentiate as between the use of water in area and area. So the position is that as far as the various industries are concerned the Minister can differentiate as between the standards of purification as between river and river and the water that is taken from them. There is only one condition with which the Minister has to conform and that is that in terms of Section 21 (5) (b) the water must be as pure as though it had been purified in accordance with the standards laid down by the Bureau of Standards. That is all the Minister has to do. But now the Minister can differentiate in regard to the various areas where it is used. That, I suggest, is also very necessary because it is quite clear that the Minister is using the power in terms of this clause of the Bill before us, that is if he differentiates in relation to water used within a prescribed area and another area (which he will be able to do in terms of this clause) there may be a number of industries in that area which are using a common source to get the raw water for the purpose of their industries. But he can only set up one standard of purification in relation to that one area. It is quite clear that in terms of the Act itself the Minister can (I quote from the end of Section 21 (a)) “in relation to water used for or in connection with any one or more specified industrial purposes” differentiate as between industry and industry. So now we are getting the clear picture. The Minister can today differentiate as between industry and industry but not in regard to the source from whence that water comes—that must be a general standard throughout South Africa.
He has complete control over the water; he can for instance dam the water!
This is a serious matter, Sir, and I hope the hon. member for Salt River will treat it as such. We now have this position: In terms of the Bill before us the Minister can differentiate as between industry and industry in the same area or as between area and area. We are not objecting to the Minister having this right of discrimination but there is this point about it. In the Select Committee a great deal of evidence was led to indicate the difficulties as between industry and industry, where one industry lower down along the river had to take water which had been used by an industry higher up. Standards were laid down for the purification of that water, and that water was purified well enough by the second industry, except that its association with intractable elements that have come down from industries higher up, a totally different problem arises lower down the river. In other words every industry that discharges its own effluent which may be pure according to the standards laid down, can nevertheless become associated with other elements from other industries and while none of the effluent will in itself create a problem, in conjunction with one another they form a chemical combination which constitutes a problem for the industries lower down the river. Those people are not protected, Sir, and that is our difficulty. It is quite clear that that is not only a problem that can be a problem to-day but it is a problem that will tend to grow with the increase in the number of industries that establish themselves along that river. Secondly, I want to put this point to the Minister flowing from the question of night soil effluent from municipalities. That is not specifically dealt with here because they are industries but a problem arises from the fact that so many industries in a given area discharge their effluent into the town sewers and that town sewage finds its way, not as a night soil effluent, nor as merely industrial effluent from factories which have established themselves within the urban area concerned, but that sewage finds its way into the river. There is also a difficulty connected with the position where the effluent is discharged straight into the sea. This is dealt with in Section 21 (5) (i) where it says that the Minister in considering an application for a permit of exemption, has to consider the fact whether in fact there will be pollution of the sea as well as pollution of rivers or normal water channels. The point I should like to put crisply to the Minister is this: I am referring to the wording of Clause 6 “in relation to water derived from any specified public stream or in relation to water used in any prescribed area”. In the Minister’s opinion will “any prescribed area” also apply where a factory has a direct outflow into the sea? I find it difficult to conceive of an area in relation to a body of water like the sea. I can understand it where a factory has an outflow on to land; in that case you can mark the area, you can erect beacons, there are natural features or artificial features such as town boundaries and so forth, but where there is a direct outflow into the sea, can it be said that that is a prescribed area and that the Minister is going to have the right to demand effluent that is discharged straight into the sea to undergo special treatment before it is discharged into the sea. Would that be an area for this purpose?
There are special standards for every industry. Where you have an industry letting its effluent into the sea for instance, you will lay down standards of purification for that industry as such without declaring the area in which the industry is situated. I think that covers the hon. member’s point.
I should like to take the hon. the Minister up on that very point he has just made. I said earlier in dealing with this particular clause that I could not conceive powers sufficiently wide to enable the Minister to deal with the problem which faces him. The Minister is seeking for more powers than originally contained in the Bill. Local authorities have been passing special by-laws to deal with the effluent discharged by various industries either into the sewers or into the source of supply whether it be a public stream or otherwise. My only suggestion to the Minister is to work in co-operation with the local authorities in exercising the powers which he is seeking in terms of this amending Bill. All I am asking the hon. the Minister is that he should tell us whether he is aware of the various standards laid down by these local authorities, whether he is aware of their experience and whether he is going to use it. In a large local authority such as Johannesburg there are many industries surrounding that city which require to be dealt with in so far as the discharge of their effluent is concerned. I can assure the hon. the Minister that there are important by-laws of the Johannesburg City Council that deal with these problems and enable the various inspectors to lay down varying standards for different industries. It is not necessary to lay down a complete set of standards for each particular industry. When we talk of a specified area, there is a purpose in having a specified area. You perhaps lay down a general standard subject to inspection; the inspectors vary those standards according to what is being discharged. The purpose of that. Sir, is to enable our fast developing chemical industries, or canning industries, or industries that deal with woollen goods and so forth, to progress unhampered. This is a very important and a very vital problem. I would like the hon. the Minister to note for instance that on the Witwatersrand where we know that our water supply limits us to a total population of 4,000,000, the question of the continued purification of the water is very important indeed. It is not a new problem in this country and it is not a new problem for our cities and towns. Another question arises from what the Minister calls a specified area and the powers that he seeks, and that is that in order to enable water to be used most beneficially and to purify it without going to tremendous expense as has been the experience in the past with the sewage disposal works, it is possible with some of the most modern methods to-day, to limit the area where these works are established to a very smaller area than was the custom in the past. In the past the water had to be spread over a vast area in order to be purified. But that method is no longer followed to-day. The whole purification process takes place in one complete disposal chamber. For instance on the outskirts of Johannesburg, in order to meet the tremendous Black problem, a sewage disposal works costing the city nearly £5,000,000 is in the process of being completed. That will deal with 40,000,000 gallons of water per day. That expenditure is being incurred not only to meet the demand but also to enable those vast quantities of water to re-enter the water shed —a very important water shed—as pure and as clean as possible. I am only asking the hon. the Minister to tell us this evening: “I am taking these wide powers not because I have to establish standards but I am taking these wide powers to be able to deal with this problem on a proper and constructive basis. I intend to consult with local authorities who at the moment form the habitat of perhaps the greatest experience of this problem in the Western world to-day.” I am not saying that, Mr. Chairman, but it has been said by other authorities on this particular problem. If the hon. the Minister would give us something constructive along these lines when he replies to this debate, we would feel much more assured and our minds would be much more at rest that the hon. the Minister intends to deal with this problem on a proper constructive and substantial basis.
I am the last one to blame hon. members if they have strong feelings about the pollution of water. In other countries of the world where they perhaps have more water available to them than we have. I am told that in a city like Paris, for example, the water one drinks has perhaps been drunk by 11 people already. We shall reach that stage in South Africa also. We cannot afford to have our public streams and water sources polluted. I want to assure the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Miller) that we are aware of all these activities of local authorities and that there is the closest co-operation between those municipalities and the various provincial authorities and the Bureau of Standards and the Department of Water Affairs. We are continually in the closest contact with each other and my Department is acquainted with all technical methods and new inventions in respect of the purification of water which has already been used. There are co-ordinating committees on which the Provincial authorities, and the larger city councils and municipalities are represented. This is just an attempt to make it easier for us to put a stop to and to act more effectively in respect of the pollution of water which we see going on to-day but which we cannot put a stop to now because the Act does not empower us to do so. That is all. I want to thank hon. members for the interest shown by them in this very important matter of the use and the re-use of water. The sooner we put a stop to this pollution the better.
The point which the hon. the Minister has just made emphasizes what I said at the very beginning. The point the Minister is making now are quoted in the report of the Select Committee which considered this Bill in 1955 and 1956. Even in their 1956 report the Select Committee stressed the fact that the Minister should set up a separate department. Let me read the recommendation again—
During the course of their evidence all that the Minister is now putting to us was taken into consideration. If the Minister cares to read through the evidence he will find that the Bureau of Standards said that they already had a standard for water and that they appreciated that it was a very strict standard, and that if water conforming to their standard was returned to any river it would be absolutely purer and fit for re-use for any purpose. They went on to say this—
In other words, there was no sense in taking dirty water and using it in an industry and returning it to the river in a state of purity greater than that of the water in the river. My point is this, Sir, that all the factors that we are considering here now in 1961 were dealt with in 1955 and in 1956 and here we are considering them again. The Select Committee did a wonderful job on this Water Bill in 1955 and 1956—they did all the work for us. Now to-day after five years we are doing the work of the Select Committee all over again. They made the decisions at the time, Sir, and they were the correct ones. Section 21 which we are seeking to amend gives the Minister the powers which he is seeking in this Bill. He might have slightly enlarged powers under this clause but I still think that under the existing Section 21 he could have got on with the job and done a large part of the work which he is seeking to initiate here. I think it is a very bad show that after five years the Minister should come along and ask for further powers. I want to stress this point particularly because the point has been made by everybody concerned with the pollution of water: Something should have been done immediately, that was why this section was introduced in 1955 and 1956. They recommended that something should be done immediately and nothing has been done. If we do not keep stressing this matter I do not think anything will be done during the next five years. I am going to keep on hammering away at the Minister even if the Minister does not like my doing so, because I realize the seriousness of this perhaps more than the Minister does. I come in contact with this and perhaps I am trained to take more notice of it, but I would like to impress upon the hon. Minister how necessary it is to do something now as the Select Committee asked him to do in 1956.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Clause 7.
Mr. Chairman, I do not like this clause. This clause illustrates the very point that I raised under the previous clause. When this consolidating measure came into force in 1956 the Select Committee of this House foresaw that the Minister would run into certain difficulties in controlling the effluent from certain existing industries. In their wisdom they laid down that the Minister could give these people exemption for a period of three years, and when that three-year period was running out and due to technical difficulties and the like they had not solved their problem of effluent and the purification of it, that the Minister could then come to the House and that Parliament could give an exemption period of five years. If you read the evidence which was given before the Select Committee, you come to the conclusion that a lot of careful thought was given to this matter. A great deal of the evidence is printed in the report of the Select Committee. I have no doubt in my own mind that that Select Committee arrived at this figure of three and five years’ exemption only after most careful consideration. The White Paper dealing with this Bill deals with it in such a manner that I admit frankly that I cannot understand it. It says—
That does not mean anything at all to me, Sir. The only thing I can say is that last year when this hon. Minister introduced an amending Bill which was not dealt with, he had increased these periods of three and five years to seven and nine years. This year he has come back and he wants to increase them to eight and ten. In other words, my same argument holds good that here he has given these people five years’ exemption and in June of this year, if my calculations are right, those exemptions will expire and the Minister now wishes to extend that period still further. I say that we have reached a stage of seriousness in the control aspect of the pollution of water by industry that as the hon. the Minister has not done the job that was entrusted to him under the 1956 Act, he should now come back to this House each year and let us see exactly what has been done and what further exemptions are necessary and what exemptions are not necessary. Because it is obvious that the exemptions which were given and which will expire very shortly, will have to be extended, and that proves that nothing has been done in these cases for five years. We would like to know what difficulties the hon. the Minister is encountering in specific cases and why further exemptions will be necessary. If the Minister is encountering difficulties, let him come to us; we will consider them and where we know that the hon. the Minister is up against a problem which requires more time to solve than perhaps originally anticipated, we will help him to solve that problem. We are just as interested in solving the pollution aspect of the industrial problem as he is. Why does the hon. the Minister now want to have the power to extend for another five years those exemptions? That period is far too long. It was never the intention to give exemptions for ten years because otherwise it would have been put in the original Act. I would say to the hon. the Minister: If he is having difficulties, let him be frank with this House, and let us try to help him to solve these difficulties. But don’t take a blanket ability to give a further five years’ exemption to these people who have not yet put their house in order, either with or without the Minister’s help. Let us now get on with the job of clearing up this pollution aspect. We can help the hon. the Minister perhaps more than he thinks if he will be frank with us and if he will tell us what the problems are that he has got to handle. That would be the far better way to attack this problem and to solve it, than to come in an attempt to double up on the period of exemption.
The hon. member for Durban (Umlazi) (Mr. H. Lewis) is quite correct when he says that the Select Committee in dealing with this particular clause in the original Bill, which is being amended by extending the time, very carefully considered the matter. He had experts there who were cross-examined and the Select Committee was unanimous in laying down these particular periods of exemption, because they felt that the problem was so serious that it should be tackled immediately. I asked the Minister when discussing the previous clause what exemptions he had given in respect of one type of pollution to local authorities, and there I refer to sewage. We have not had a satisfactory reply. We were told that that was a problem that could be dealt with immediately by the Minister. The Minister could deal with that type of pollution immediately and he did not need five years. But the chemical or industrial type of pollution of the sea, as well as the streams and rivers of the country, was a problem that would take some time to deal with. We felt that if the Bureau of Standards and the C.S.I.R. had not got a formula, one could not stop an industry forthwith, but that the hon. the Minister could come back to this House year by year and state, “We have not got a formula to deal with certain types of industrial pollution, and we want an extention for a further year”. Even if he had asked for two years, I do not think this House would have hesitated to give him an extension for two years. But now to give a blanket extension for a period such as this, and to find out now, at this stage, that certain types of pollution that are very serious from various aspects, particularly from the health aspect, have not been tackled yet, is disturbing. I dealt with sewage pollution by local authorities, where there is a standard where chemical pollution by factories does not run into a local authority sewerage system. But that has not been applied! In other words, Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Minister has done nothing in this regard, and that is the gravamen of our charge when we say that this proposed period is much too long. As I visualize it, the Minister will come back in five years time and ask for another extension for a further period, and all the time our thickly-populated areas, are running the risk of very serious disabilities in respect of health and the use of water for various purposes. If there are certain chemicals in water, you cannot utilize that water for some other industry. It may hamper the development of industry if your water is not properly purified within a given time. But as I have stated, we dealt with it very thoroughly and we came to a unanimous decision. The Department was there, the C.S.I.R. officials were there and they were quite satisfied that most of our pollution problems could be dealt with in that time. Now to double that period and the Minister not being able to say what steps he has taken, if any, and what exemptions he has even given up to the present time, is alarming. In other words, he has done nothing at all, and that is a very serious state of affairs. The Minister comes here five years after the Act was promulgated and asks for a similar period, without giving any real reason, without telling us what his difficulties are, without telling us that he has in respect of certain types of pollution applied standards, makes us feel that he is asking us too much. I would like to ask the hon. the Minister if he has anything in relation to the building up of an enforcement agency, whether he has any enforcement agencies at all, whether he has built up a system to enforce standards, whether he is building up a department within Water Affairs, a sub-department to deal with the application of standards and the enforcement of standards. Mr. Chairman, this clause is one of the most important in relation to our water supplies for the future, and if we do not lay down standards which are enforced, what will the result be? Then we are simply passing a law that is not being enforced. What has the hon. the Minister done in relation to the building up of an inspectorate to enforce
Order! The periods are under discussion here.
Yes, Sir, and I am dealing with the reasons why that period should not be granted. With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, the Minister says that he wants a further five years to grant exemptions, and I ask him what he has done up to the present to prove that he requires the period of five years. Or has he done nothing at all and is simply asking for a further period without having built up what is necessary for the enforcement of standards. Because, Mr. Chairman, this deals with standards and the enforcement of standards. It is no use having standards and having a law and laying down periods if there is nobody to enforce these standards. It is like making something applying and then saying that the police cannot deal with this because it falls under somebody else. I want to ask the Minister again what he is doing to at least prepare the way to see that there is proper inspection of pollution.
The hon. the Minister owes an explanation to this House as to why he wishes to have the periods increased as proposed in this amendment, from three years and five years respectively to eight years and ten years. Now, Sir, the original clause contemplated that there would be no extension except on an application to this House in respect of a particular case, and a resolution of this House under circumstances which the Minister would present to this House. The section is perfectly clear. It provides “That no exemption shall be granted in respect of any period ending on a date more than three years after the commencement of this Act, or such later date, not more than five years after the said commencement, as made with the consent, by resolution, of both Houses of Parliament, be determined by the Governor-General by proclamation in the Gazette As has been pointed out, the period of five years is now extended to ten. The whole object of the original section which was before a Select Committee for two years and then debated in this House was that the Minister was being put on his metal and was required to get down to this job, and only in cases where it was absolutely essential and he could give a good reason to this House in a specific case, was there to be any exemption. The object was to protect the purity of our water. Now the Minister, having failed abjectly, it would appear, to cope with this problem within the period which Parliament gave to him, now wishes to come to this House and instead of laying before this House case after case where he has failed miserably, he wants a blanket cover so that he can go on and perhaps come five years later and ask for a further extension. The hon. the Minister owes an explanation to this House as to what the circumstances are which require him to ask for this extension. We do not want generalizations. We want to know what particular cases he has failed to deal with that he now wishes to come and ask for a blanket cover of this sort.
I do not want to anticipate what I think the hon. the Minister is going to say, but it does have a bearing on the arguments that we have had so far. I believe that the hon. the Minister is going to say that the reason why nothing has been done to implement the intention of the Act is firstly a very acute shortage of technicians, and secondly, I am very doubtful whether the matter is being administered under proper control. I believe that is one of the major difficulties encountered. As I see the situation, the hon. the Minister is forced at this moment either to take additional time, which he seeks in this clause—and there I may say that I am not sure whether under existing circumstances he is asking for enough time—or to lay on the Table of the House innumerable exemptions. In the Explanatory Memorandum the hon. the Minister states that the first standard specification will be published next year. So he must be hopelessly behind hand in regard to these standards. It is obvious to me that the hon. the Minister has either to lay on the Table of the House details of all the numerous cases where he is behind hand, or else he has to ask for an extension of time, which is what this clause amounts to. It is clear that up to now the hon. the Minister has been unable to implement the intentions of the Act under this section, and he has not given us any reasons why.
I have tried, from my knowledge of the position, to give the reasons why he has failed to do so, but what we are vitally concerned about is what he is going to do in the future. Under existing conditions, as they are now, will the five years be enough? I doubt it—the additional three years in the one case and five years in the other. The hon. the Minister may have to come for a further extension. What the House wants to have is a statement from the hon. the Minister as to how he is going to tackle the problem and how he really intends to implement this particular section. To do that, as far as I can see, he will require a very vast organization. I doubt whether the Bureau of Standards can undertake this work, whether it has the technicians, whether it has the facilities to do this work adequately. I personally am very doubtful, and what the Minister should do is to give us an assessment as to bow the job is going to be done, how he proposes to get the technicians to do the work, and whether he really believes that these extensions that he seeks will be adequate. It is very vital and important work that urgently requires to be done, and it is becoming increasingly urgent because of increasing difficulties in the purification of water. New problems are cropping up daily. I made an appeal at the second reading stage for research in this matter. The whole of this problem wants raising to a higher standard. The Select Committee suggested that a sub-division of the Department might be created to deal with it. I have suggested a joint committee of different Departments and experts to go into the matter. Quite clearly this whole thing wants raising to a higher level, and I feel that the hon. the Minister owes it to the House to tell us how exactly he intends to deal with this problem, because it is a very difficult one and it appears that up to now the hon. the Minister has not been able to deal with it.
The hon. member for Parktown (Mr. Cope), who has just sat down, said that the Minister had been faced with two possibilities—either to lay a long string of records of exemptions that he has granted on the Table of the House, or otherwise to get a blanket cover. May I point out that the hon. member for Parktown is quite wrong. The hon. the Minister cannot lay a long list of exemptions that he has granted on the Table. That is precisely the trouble. That is where the Minister has failed. You see, Mr. Chairman, let us again look at the meaning of Section 24 of the Act. It deals with exemptions from the provisions of Section 21, the section (which we have already dealt with) dealing with the Minister’s right to differentiate in regard to the purification of water in one river as distinct from another, and in regard to a particular area or in regard to a particular industry, and Section 24 says that the Minister may grant an exemption from the purification provisions of Section 21—that is the purification provision laid down by the Bureau of Standards.
Yes, as agreed with the Bureau of Standards. That is the basis upon which he grants exemptions. Section 21 says that the Minister must agree with the Bureau of Standards as to the purification requirements. Then it says under Section 24 that the Minister can give an exemption to an industry or person from complying with that standard of purification. Well, Sir, if the Minister has not laid down standards of purification, he cannot give exemptions. That is where the hon. member for Parktown is wrong. The hon. the Minister cannot lay a long list of exemptions on the Table. He cannot give exemptions, because no standards have been laid down. That is the Minister’s trouble that he has not yet got a standard. There is no standard. Consequently he cannot grant an exemption to any industry in respect of any particular standard of purification for that industry in relation to the water supply or its discharge of effluent, or whatever the case may be. He can give no such exemption if there are no standards laid down. Hon. members have referred to the discussions in the Select Committee. It is quite right that it was not by chance that these two periods of three years and five years were laid down. Three years were chosen because the evidence was led before the Select Committee that that was a practical period within which certain standards could be provided. But it was recognized by the Select Committee that there might be a necessity in certain cases for a further extension of time, and then the provision was put in that the Minister could get that by coming to both Houses of Parliament for the express purpose that the Houses of Parliament wanted the right to debate those certain cases in respect of which the hon. the Minister might wish to grant a further extension of time. We realized on the Select Committee the pressure that was going to be placed upon the hon. the Minister. Very strong financial corporations, who may be at the present time discharging effluent which is noxious, can bring tremendous pressure to bear upon a Minister, because that industry may be essential for the industrial welfare of South Africa. They can come to the Minister and say in effect: We can’t find the answer to this effluent problem; it is no good you pressing us; if you press us to purify this effluent, there is only one thing for us to do and that is to shut down. Now the Minister is in a cleft stick. You may have to shut down an industry in which millions of money are invested and which is very necessary for the well being of South Africa, and in respect of which he at the moment is unable to say that there is a practical answer to their problem of effluent disposal, or to deal with their effluent in such a manner as to make it innocuous. There is the trouble. But, Sir, the Minister has not got those standards. That stage has not been reached yet. The hon. the Minister cannot tell us how many industries there are in South Africa that are discharging noxious effluents. The Minister has not a clue as to how many of such industries there are. He has not given an exemption to anybody. He can’t have. It is impossible. You can only give exemption from standards and no standards have been laid down. But now the Minister comes along and says that he wants a further five years. The first five years have gone. If the Minister had been able to give exemptions for the first three years, or up to the end of the first three years, and now that another period has gone by had come to the House with the particular cases for a further period of exemption, then we could say that the Minister is now dealing with the matter. But he has not come in that spirit at all. The whole five years have gone by. The first three years have gone which were allowed to the hon. the Minister to give exemptions on his own responsibility in consultation with the Bureau of Standards, and the further two years in which he had to come to Parliament to get authority for further extensions—all that period has passed, nothing has been done, and the Minister comes now and says “I want a further five years”. In other words, it means ten years from the passing of the Act. We are not prepared to accept that. You see, Sir, you have to look at it from this point of view: So far as this discharge of effluent is concerned, we have been dealing in the main up to now with people who discharge effluent into the rivers, water channels, canals, etc., but a lot of effluents to-day are not discharged into water courses or into the sea, but are discharged into vast evaporation beds. Mr. Chairman, some of the highest qualified industrial chemists in South Africa tell us that the percolation of that water going into our underground channels is not only undefined, but undefinable. You cannot tell where it goes, nor what noxious elements it is taking with it. We may wake up to a very sad state of affairs one day when we find water sources polluted, possibly miles and miles away from a place where there are big evaporation beds in which effluents are disposed of. Now the hon. the Minister wants this position to continue for another five years, and for another five years the hon. the Minister need not then lay down standards of purification, for another five years the Minister need give no kind of exemption from purification standards, because there are no purification standards. For ten years people can discharge noxious elements on to land, into rivers and into the sea with impunity if this clause is passed. I realize the hon. Minister’s difficulties. The Select Committee, through the very choice of language in Section 24, made it abundantly clear how important this provision was and that Parliament was not prepared to allow the Minister to go on issuing exemptions after the period of three years. He would have to come to Parliament and say why further exemptions are necessary. But the Minister never came and we find that nothing has been done. We are not prepared to accept this. The hon. the Minister must now come clear and say precisely what he is going to do in regard to exemptions.
It has been interesting to listen to the wisdom from hon. members opposite. They are apparently of the opinion that they have the Minister just where they want to have him but I can assure them that that is not the position. I can tell hon. members that the accusation that has been made, namely that no standards whatsoever have been laid down, is unfounded. No standards could be laid down in terms of the Act unless those standards applied to the whole of the Union and how can such standards be determined? That is the reason why I am asking for the law to be amended so that standards may be laid down for areas and in respect of specific rivers etc. The organization to which the hon. members for Parktown (Mr. Cope) and Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) have referred, has been in existence for years, the organization which was established to work in conjunction with the Bureau of Standards in order to determine standards for specific industries in regard to the harmful effluent which they discharge either into our public streams or into the sea. These ad hoc committees have been established and the provincial administrations, the Department of Health, the Department of Commerce and Industry, the S.A. Bureau of Standards and the Department of Water Affairs are all represented on them. Hundreds of standards have been laid down for various industries and/or municipalities in terms of the powers which we have under Section 21 (5) but those are of a temporary nature. In other words, temporary standards have been laid down. Temporary standards have been laid down because we could not comply with the provisions of the Act in laying down Union-wide standards.
For how long?
That can be for any time, up to between three and five years. In other words, because the five year period for which the law makes provision has practically expired and Union-wide standards have not as yet been laid down, not by my Department, but by the authorities referred to in the original Act which are responsible for determining the standards, we have to come forward with this amendment, because it is impossible to lay down standards for the whole Union. That is why we want to lay them down for areas, for specific areas, because that can be done, and that can be done next year, but in order to be able to do so next year the period of time has to be extended in view of the fact that the five year period has expired. That is why we are asking for this period to be extended. But it is definitely wrong to create the impression, as has been done, that absolutely nothing has been done and that industries, companies, public bodies or whoever it may be that is responsible, have been allowed ever since 1956 to discharge their harmful effluent into any river or into the sea just as they wanted to. In accordance with the law it is impossible from a practical point of view to lay down standards on a Union-wide basis, and that being so it was done in a different way, namely standards were laid down and permits were granted for discharging effluent that conformed to certain standards. This responsible body has laid those standards down. They have laid down temporary standards, but as far as I know not a single exemption has been granted.
Because we have not been confronted with that danger, as far as I know. So far we have not laid down any standard of purification for any industry with which that industry has been unable to comply, and consequently it was not necessary to grant any exemptions.
But you ought to know.
Apparently the hon. member knows more about my Department than I do. I said that as far as I knew no exemptions had been granted, because it was unnecessary to do so. The hon. member may put a question on the Order Paper if he wishes to do so to which I will reply. But as far as I know no exemptions have been granted.
Have temporary standards been laid down for any specific period?
The standards which have been determined were laid down after full consultation and with the approval of the bodies represented on the ad hoc committees, standards determined and approved of by the Bureau of Standards.
In the absence of provisions that made it possible for me to lay down standards for effluent for specific areas or in respect of specific rivers, I could not publish those standards, and for that reason I had to by-pass the law. So it is not a question of having done nothing at all. I had to do what I could under Section 21 (5) and standards have been laid down and permits been given in respect of the disposal of effluents on a temporary basis, which does not mean that industries or the interests concerned were just let loose and allowed to dispose of their effluents as they liked.
May I ask the hon. the Minister a question, if that is so and the Minister was granting those temporary permits, what then about Section 21 which says “exemptions to be granted under conditions prescribed by the Minister by notice in the Gazette Has the Minister published them in the Gazette, those conditions under which exemptions were granted?
I did not grant exemption. If you give a man exemption, it means that he need not purify his effluent. He can let it go. I have not given such exemptions. [Laughter.] Hon. members do not want to understand. If I say that I have not given such exemptions, they should accept that. But we have definitely laid down standards with which the interests concerned have to comply, and we have seen to it that they do comply with those standards. But in the absence of a provision in the Act to that effect, I could not lay down regional standards and publish them in the Gazette.
You did not publish any in the Gazette?
I did not, but we did see to it that effluent did not flow into the public streams unpurified. Standards of purification were laid down.
May I ask the hon. the Minister whether he delegated his authority to officials to grant exemptions?
No, I have not.
So no exemptions have been given?
This is really a most extraordinary state of affairs. I think that this is absolutely classic. Section 21 of the Act places the imperative duty on the Minister to publish those standards in the Gazette. It is no good the hon. the Minister saying that he has had to by-pass the law, and saying in the very next breath that he did it legally. He says that he has published no standards in the Gazette, but he has been giving temporary permits of exemption. Under what authority has the hon. the Minister been giving temporary permits of exemption? There is no such provision in this law. Section 24 goes out of its way to say that the hon. the Minister cannot do what he now says he has been doing. Section 24 have given the Minister the authority to grant exemption from standards which he has published in the Gazette. That is the whole point. He can grant exemption by means of a permit; exemption from compliance with the standards he published in the Gazette. But if he has not published any standards in the Gazette he cannot come to this House and say “I have been attempting to get this effluent purified, I have been giving temporary exemption”. But for what has he been giving these exemptions? In the very next breath he says they are exemption from the need to purify the effluent. How can the hon. the Minister say he has been attempting to have the effluent purified when in the next breath he says he has been granting exemptions from the necessity to purify those effluents? And in any event the hon. the Minister was not complying with the law.
Section 21 of the Act is abundantly clear as to what is demanded of the hon. the Minister. If he has been restricting industry in any way in regard to the effluent which their processes were producing, then he has been doing it entirely illegally. There is no provision in this Act which gives him the right to interfere, except after he has published standards in the Gazette.
Read Section 21 (1) and Section 21 (5).
Twenty-one (1) is the one which I was reading, and 21 (5) is the one which deals with the sea-water, and which again provides that the effluent must be purified to the degree demanded by the Bureau of Standards. The Minister has to know that an effluent is a noxious effluent. That surely is point number one. The Minister talks about this ad hoc committee that has been established; does that ad hoc committee now advise him as to the noxious element in the effluent? Will the hon. the Minister tell us, has he had prepared, in so far as South Africa is concerned, a schedule showing the factories that are producing noxious effluents that are polluting our waters; our water courses, our rivers or the sea? Has he a schedule showing which factories are spreading noxious elements over the land in the way of evaporation pans? Has his Department produced such a schedule?
Supposing that the hon. the Minister is right and he has been giving these temporary permits, then what of the missing two years between the three and five-year periods? The Minister was not entitled to grant permits after three years, without the approval of both Houses of Parliament. Where did he get the authority to get round that? He talks about giving temporary permits up to the present time …
“And as long as five years”. Read the Act.
It is not a case of reading the Act, I helped to make it. Section 24 is abundantly clear. It says that the Minister can give permits up to three years and then for not more than five years after the commencement, as may, with the consent by resolution by both Houses of Parliament, be determined by the Governor-General.
But what about the sub-section which says not more than five years without consent, but not within the time of three years or five years, by consent?
I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Minister is not going to lose two of the five years like that. Those are the two years in which the hon. the Minister has to come to Parliament. The point which I have mentioned before is that at the end of five years there were to be no more exemptions unless the Government came forward with an amending Bill and the whole position was then put before Parliament with specific reference to those industries which were causing noxious effluents to be passed out from their factory without proper control and without purification. But in effect the hon. the Minister said to us this afternoon that he had no legal authority to put a curb on some of these industries but he had nevertheless done it without legal authority. He said “The time that I have been doing this is five years, and the law will only allow me three years in which to give legal permits, so that the whole thing has been completely illegal from the start because in any event I have never published any standards in the Gazette as are called for in terms of Section 21”. Yet with a record like that the hon. the Minister comes to us and asks us to give him another five years of freedom from the necessity of publishing these standards. It is not industry that is seeking another five years’ exemption, it is the Minister asking for another five years before he has to publish the standards in the Gazette. It is the Minister who is at fault here. Instead of the industries asking for an extension of time the hon. the Minister is asking for an extension in time in which to publish his standards in the Gazette, which he has not done after five years.
The hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) is not reading Section 24 of the principal Act correctly and he knows it.
No, you cannot say that.
The hon. member knows he is wrong, and for that reason it is unnecessary for me to point out how wrong he is.
Order! Is the hon. the Minister implying that the hon. member for South Coast tried to mislead the House?
No, Mr. Chairman. What I implied was this that I have drawn his attention to the fact that he is misreading the section concerned, I think he will realize that he is wrong. In terms of Section 21 (1) notices have to be published in the Government Gazette. But Section 21 (5) does not make it obligatory on me or on my Department to publish the standards which are laid down in the Government Gazette. The hon. member now alleges that I am acting illegally and I maintain that in terms of Section 21 (5) I have the power to publish them in the Government Gazette, not only in so far as effluent that runs into the sea is concerned, but in so far as any kind of effluent is concerned. That is my reply to the hon. member.
I must admit that on no occasion when the hon. the Minister has taken part in the debate, has he made the position clearer, but has only confused it more. In the first place he told us that he could not lay down the standards because he did not have power to lay down standards on a regional basis. The hon. the Minister then went on to say that he had laid down standards on a Union-wide basis.
Then the hon. the Minister said that he had not granted exemptions to anybody. If that is the position what is the point in telling us that he had not laid down any standards because that could only be done on a regional basis. If his argument is correct, that can only apply if there were no industries in the country that were causing water pollution in respect of which standards could be laid down on a Union-wide basis. Surely there are numbers of industries that cause the same pollution of water and that can therefore be dealt with on a Union-wide basis. The hon. the Minister tells us, however, that he has laid down standards but that he has not published them. He goes on to say that no exemptions have been granted.
For each industry.
And did you grant exemptions on the basis of those standards?
There are numerous industries that have not been dealt with as yet.
Did you grant exemptions on that basis?
No exemptions? In that case the matter is more confused and I should be glad if the hon. the Minister would try to explain it to us.
The hon. the Minister is seeking to use the provisions of Clause 5 as an excuse for failing to carry out the provisions of the principal Act. I think it is important that we should understand this position clearly. The hon. the Minister has said that we should not read only Section 21 (1) but should also read Section 21 (5). Twenty-one (5) provides that—
Looking down further, it is provided that—
to certain provisions of the Sea-shore Act and shall not issue such a permit unless he is satisfied that the conditions to be imposed in connection with any such permit will be at least as effective for the purpose of prevention of pollution of public or other waters, including sea water, as any conditions or requirements which may have been recommended by the Bureau of Standards. In other words, the provisions of Section 21 (5) are merely to allow of particular exemptions in special cases. And then, only if the Minister is satisfied, after inquiry, that in the circumstances of that particular case, what is being done to provide security through purification of the water, is quite as effective as what was laid down after consultation with the Bureau of Standards.
That is the difficulty in which the hon. the Minister finds himself. This is not a general power of exemption. The general power of exemption is contained in Section 24. I said before that the hon. the Minister is coming here without giving any explanation to this House as to why he has failed to do something about this matter which is vital to the health of this country. At the end of the five years, without any explanation at all, he comes forward at a period which was to have been the ultimate limit of extension—and during the last two years of that period only on a resolution of both Houses of Parliament could he grant exemption, which shows how seriously this matter was viewed. Yet the Minister now tells us he has acted under the provisions of Section 21 (5). I think I have shown that he could not have acted under the Section 21 (5) at all, except within the provisions of that section. In other words, he could only use that section if, after due inquiry the Minister is satisfied that the conditions to be imposed in connection with that permit will be at least as effective, for the purpose of preventing the pollution of public and other waters, including sea water, as any conditions or requirements which may have been recommended by the Bureau of Standards.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Minister is in this position: He is charged with the fulfillment of one of the most vital health factors of the country as a whole, namely, the necessity of keeping pure the waters of this country. This House requires that action should be taken immediately, and that within a period of three years the Minister, in view of the fact that it was known that this matter was tremendously involved and difficult was to comply with this law within that long period. He was required to deal with this matter within three years. If he found that in special circumstances he could not deal with it adequately in three years, his duty was to come to this House and ask for an extension up to five years in terms of the provision of Section 24. He has not come to this House in connection with a single such case. He has not given to this Committee any good reason for his failure—which I referred to previously as an abject failure—to comply with the provisions of a law which he himself put on the Statute Book. Yet he now comes and expects this Committee to extend the period to ten years. He is prepared to concede that if he wants to ask for an extension for the last two of those ten years he will have to come before this House and get a special resolution. But he did not come and ask for anything of the sort under the previous provisions. He has given no good reason why he has not reported this matter to Parliament before. If he had found himself utterly unable to comply with the provisions of this law it was his duty to come before Parliament either with a resolution or a Bill providing for an extension, and to have given this House the frank reasons why he has failed in respect of this matter. There is a very heavy onus on this Minister to justify to this House his failure and that of his predecessors to comply with this vital provision of the law. I submit it is his duty to give us adequate reasons before he can expect this House to give any extension at all, let alone the long extension for which he is now asking.
Hon. members opposite got up one after the other and tried to build up an argument and to quarrel with the Minister because after five years he now returns to this House with the Water Act and with the best of intentions lays before us the problems which it presents to the Department. The Minister returns after the best bodies have tried to lay down standards for water purification. Hon. members opposite were co-responsible for the principal Act. As far as I know the principal Act was passed without any argument. When this Act was placed on the Statute Book its object was to give direction and guidance in various respects, also as far as the pollution of water was concerned. The position is, however, Mr. Chairman, that there is not one industrial area or one big river where pollution takes place, where the problems are exactly the same as in another industrial area or river. In other words, our various industrial centres differ from one another. That is the problem that has been confronting the Department for five years, because the Department has tried to evolve a standard which would apply to the whole Union within the period laid down by law. If standards have to be laid down that would apply to the whole Union, those standards would have to be either very vague, or they would have to be very well circumscribed so that they could be applied in practice in the various circumstances that obtained in South Africa. That was indeed the problem which faced the Department. In consultation with the best bodies, such as the Bureau of Standards, the Department has tried to lay down standards that would be acceptable and that would be practicable for the whole of South Africa. After five years the Department had to tell the Minister that they could not find a satisfactory solution unless the Minister divided the country into various centres, decentralized it and laid down standards for the various centres, because they differed from one another. Hon. members opposite know that Johannesburg’s problems are different from Durban’s problems. Durban’s problems in turn are different from Port Elizabeth’s problems. It is a fact that no two rivers are alike and that no two areas are precisely alike. What the Minister is now doing is to say: If you allow me to decentralize the country and to lay down various standards for various industrial units, I think I shall be in a better position to carry out the law in a satisfactory manner. Hon. members opposite, however, now quarrel with the Minister about that. Why do they not rather assist him? The hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) was co-responsible for this Act. Why did he make a miscalculation and stipulate a three year period within which the standards for water purification had to be drawn up? Why did he not foresee that it would require eight or ten years?
What about this energetic (kragdadig) Government?
The reason is obvious, Mr. Chairman. It was not envisaged at the time either by this side of the House or by members opposite what practical problems would crop up. I do not hold that against them …
That is a different problem.
Yes, that hon. member told this House a moment ago about the clever people whom they had on the Johannesburg City Council and that they wanted to assist the Minister. Why have the hon. member and his clever engineers in Johannesburg not tried in the meantime to assist in solving the problem? No, he prefers to come here and to quarrel with the Minister. The fact of the matter is that with these amendments the Minister is trying to be practical, namely to regard the various industrial centres of South Africa as units with their specific problems. That is the essence of this legislation. Hence also the time limit which is causing members opposite such difficulty. The Minister is forced to do so in order to make this legislation possible of practical application. When the Minister moved the second reading of this Bill he told us that from a technical point of view the Water Act was one of the most difficult Acts on our Statute Book and that he was trying to iron out those difficulties that have cropped up during the past five years by means of this legislation. It is possible that the Minister may return at a later stage and tell us that further difficulties have cropped up. I think hon. members opposite are being very unreasonable. Where the Minister is trying to facilitate the operation of the Act, they come forward and quarrel with him about it the way they have.
The hon. member for Soutpansberg (Mr. S. P. Botha) is, of course, just making excuses and the points he has made are points which we conceded at the beginning of the debate on this clause. But the point I want to raise is one that I mentioned during the second reading debate. I mentioned this clause specifically to the hon. the Minister and I indicated to him that I thought perhaps it was leading to and he was encouraging the indiscriminate establishing of industry. In view of what the hon. the Minister has said I am now assured that I am quite right. In view of what the Minister has said one realizes that that is happening as a consequence of this clause. If an industry at the moment applies for a permit to establish itself, the Minister gives them permission and lays down a set of standards with which he thinks they should comply. But he is not publishing those standards in the Gazette as he is required to do in terms of the Act. Consequently he is not laying down any standards at all for them to comply with. Then he issues permits setting out the conditions under which they must discharge their effluent, but of course that does not mean a thing. In other words, on the Minister’s own admission he is giving a period of ten years in excess of the time envisaged by the Select Committee which considered this Bill, for the establishment of further industries, creating more effluent and multiplying the problems of dealing with those effluents by the number of factories of industries which he is establishing during that period. So that the answer that the hon. the Minister gave me in 1959, in which he said that because of the stringent conditions attaching to the discharge of the effluent into the sea there would not be any adverse effect, that answer does not mean anything. The hon. the Minister has not gazetted any standards. He has not published any conditions, and even if he did publish the conditions, they are so attached to the standards which he has never taken the trouble to gazette, that he might just as well have told them to get on without any standards at all. It was hardly necessary for him to issue a permit.
Mr. Chairman, this is contrary to the whole spirit of the Water Act. It was never intended that this Minister should treat industrial effluent in this manner. The Act was an Act whereby this Parliament gave the Minister a certain job of work to do to safeguard the public of South Africa from these industrial effluents. And out of his own mouth this hon. the Minister has condemned himself this evening. He has stated that he has not done a thing about it. He has offered excuses, but each excuse has opened up new channels for doubt in our minds. When one comes to the end of this discussion, as we are now doing, I for one am absolutely horrified to realize that the intentions behind this Act have been so lightly regarded by this hon. Minister. He has paid no attention to the spirit of this Act at all. I repeat that I am absolutely shocked that an hon. Minister could go about the administration of an Act entrusted to him in this manner.
The hon. member for Soutpansberg (Mr. S. P. Botha) went back to Section 21. That was the whole basis of his speech.
It starts with Section 21.
The hon. member started, he got half way and he ended with Section 21. He never got past it. That speech does not help us with Section 24 which is what we are dealing with now.
The hon. the Minister took me to task and said I had not read Section 24, or suggested that I should read it or get to understand it. In reply to that I am going to say this, that it is time the hon. the Minister learnt this Act and this Bill. Where he took me to task over Section 24 was his saying that in effect he had the right to give these permits for five years and only after five years he had to come to Parliament. But of course it is nothing of the kind. He is free to give the permit for three years, and thereafter, for the next two years he must come to Parliament. And at the end of five years the matter is closed, he is sunk. The only possible way after that—although it is not provided in this Statute—is for the Government to come with an amending Bill and provide by Statue for what may be done thereafter. Since the hon. the Minister has taken it upon himself to question my interpretation of Section 24, let us look at it so that the hon. the Minister can no longer be under that misapprehension. I am prepared to accept that he is under a misapprehension because he has been giving these temporary permits for the last two years when he not only had no legal right to do so, but he should have come to Parliament in the last two years for any extension of time for even these temporary permits. Section 24 says—
And Section 21 deals with the standards laid down and various other provisions in respect of which a permit from the Minister was necessary, an exemption from provisions and regulations he had gazetted. Then, it goes on—
The five years have not passed yet, that is why I am now seeking the consent of Parliament, from both Houses, in this amending Bill.
The point the hon. the Minister is now making is not the point on which he said I was wrong. I am saying that he was wrong in his interpretation of Section 24.
Oh yes. The hon. the Minister cannot run away from it. He accused me of not knowing Section 24, He said I should read it again and that he had the right to issue temporary permits for five years and that thereafter he had to come to Parliament. But Section 24 is clear enough. He had the right to issue permits—not temporary permits —in regard to exemptions under the published standards as provided for in Section 21. Once the Minister had published those standards he could grant exemptions from compliance with them for a period of three years, subject to certain conditions as set out in sub-sections two, three, four and five of Section 21. But once the three year period is up it was not within the Minister’s authority to give any further exemptions. If the people concerned were to get exemptions for four and five years from the date of the commencement of this Act, the Minister had to get a resolution of both Houses of Parliament, and it had to be proclaimed by the Governor-General in the Gazette. That is the only way in which those further exemptions may be granted. At the end of five years no provision is made in this Act for further exemptions whereby the Minister or Parliament or anybody else can give a further extension. And it was unnecessary to put that provision in this Act when we are a sovereign Parliament, because the Minister of the day could introduce an amending Act in precisely the same way as this Minister has done to-day. That is what the Select Committee wanted to happen, that the Minister must come and say “Here are certain industries which in the course of their business are producing noxious effluents which is detrimental to this river or to the sea, or whatever it may be; we want to grant them exemption because they are industries of national importance and it is essential that they should continue their operations”. But that was to come before Parliament. But this hon. Minister does not know his own Act. I repeat, if he has been giving exemptions during the last two years he has been doing it illegally.
What point do you wish to make?
This is the point I wish to make: The hon. the Minister has never established any standards with which industry should comply. That is number one. Therefore no industry can comply with any set of standards in terms of Section 21 because the Minister has never provided them. Secondly, the hon. the Minister, on his own showing, has been issuing temporary permits, and when we ask what authority he had for that he said “Well, it was not a free permit”. What has the hon. the Minister been doing? If he knows nobody else does.
He said he went round the law.
Yes, he said he by-passed the law. The Minister has got himself into a hopeless muddle, and now he comes along and says “I made a complete mess of this please give me another five years in which to make a bigger mess of it”.
I want to repeat, this is not exemption for another five years for industries who are transgressing the law, it is exemption for five years for the Minister from the necessity of providing the necessary standards and publishing them in the Gazette. It is the Minister who is at fault. If he has troubles as a result of lack of personnel or anything of that sort, let him tell us. We can understand that. But he must not hide behind his own incompetence as he is trying to do here this evening. We say it is completely unreasonable for the Minister to ask us to accept this this evening. Let him show us the industries that are discharging noxious effluents, polluting our water supplies, destroying the very basis and sources of our underground water supplies; destroying amenities on the coast and polluting the sea. Let him give us a schedule of those and then we may be prepared to give the Minister further time in which to prepare the standards to be published in the Gazette.
I think you must read the amendment to Section 24 in conjunction with the amendment to Section 21. Section 21 provides that standards have to be published, and once they have been published, the Minister may grant exemption from compliance with those standards as published in the Government Gazette for a specific period. But once the three year period has expired he must obtain the approval of both Houses of Parliament in cases where he wishes to grant further extension. The position is that those standards were not published for reasons easily to be understood as explained to us by the Minister. In other words he has not as yet contravened any provision of the Act if he comes forward within the period of three years and before the five year period is over because those standards have not been published and because no exemptions have been granted in respect of those standards. It is as clear as daylight. I cannot understand why hon. members of the Opposition suggest that the Minister has acted illegally. If they want to level any accusation they should accuse him of not having published the standards. But that is not the fault of the Minister. It was because the Bureau of Standards—I should rather not mention the Bureau of Standards; I should rather mention the C.S.I.R., that is really the organization which is in charge of this matter—it was because they had not as yet worked out the standards which would apply throughout the country and which would be capable of practical application throughout the country. In other words, Mr. Chairman, in the first instance standards have to be published that are practicable. that can be complied with, and that will cover the whole country. Once those standards have been published the Minister may thereafter grant exemption for a three year period to people who say that they cannot comply with those standards.
At 10.25 p.m. the Chairman stated that, in accordance with Standing Order No. 26 (1), he would report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported and leave asked to sit again.
The House adjourned at