HC Deb 14 June 1915 vol 72 c485
16. Mr. NIELD

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he has any record of the number of able-bodied male persons at present inmates of the Poor Law unions in England and Wales, and what that number is; whether he will consider the advisability of utilising any such available labour in country districts to assist in getting in the hay harvest and in other ways to supply in part the dearth of agricultural labour; and whether any special facilities are or can be given for such inmates as are of recruiting age to join the naval or military forces of the Crown or to be required to undertake work of a productive kind in connection with the supplies of munitions or equipment for the Services?


I cannot give the hon. Member exact figures, but, according to my information, the number of men still in Poor Law institutions who might be eligible for military service or who are sufficiently able-bodied to be employed in the other directions referred to is almost negligible. No special facilities are needed to enable any men for whom work is available to be discharged from these institutions. I may, in addition, say that in some cases I have selected for examination the numbers described as able-bodied have been rapidly decreasing during successive months of this year, and even where they are able-bodied they are very often not in any way suitable for military or any other very strenuous service.