HC Deb 27 March 1907 vol 171 cc1808-9
MR. O'GRADY (Leeds, E.)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether in the matter of men applying for work upon the Washburn Valley afforestation scheme under the Leeds Distress Committee, he has official information showing that 293 were offered employment, 139 accepted, 102 commenced work, and 56 threw it up soon after; what is the present number of men at work; whether, in view of the conditions of life in the country, he will ascertain whether 11s. is not too much to deduct from the men's wages of £1 per week for board and lodging; and whether, seeing that this experiment in afforestation is subsidised by the Local Government Board, he will give instructions that the men will be allowed the same privilege as those at Hollesley Bay of returning at stated periods to their homes free of railway fares.


The Answer as regards the figures referred to in the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. The number of the registered unemployed men who are at present engaged on the work is fifty. I have made inquiry as to the sum charged for board and lodging, and I find that the distress committee are satisfied as to its reasonableness. The payment for board is, however, an optional one, as it is competent for the men, instead of making it, to provide and cook their own food, but I understand that none of them have adopted this alternative. I could not undertake to interfere as to the arrangements made for the men to visit their homes. I am informed that originally it was arranged that the men should return home only once a month, and that at the same time they should go in search of permanent employment, spending at least one day for that purpose. The majority, however, preferred to visit their homes at the end of each week.