§ 27. Sir J. SPEAR
asked the Minister of National Service if he is aware that 250 soldiers are required to take the place on the land of men taken for the quota in the western division of Devon; that recently application was made at Exeter for men, and only seven or eight were available for the whole county; and will he say what steps are being taken to remedy this state of things, in view of the near approach of harvest.
§ Sir R. WINFREY
As regards the first part of the question, I am aware that, approximately, 250 men will be taken from the western division of Devon, and that it is necessary that these men should be replaced by some other form of labour. As regards the second part of the Question, owing to the needs of the Army, few men of low medical category can now be spared for transfer in agricultural companies; as regards the last part of the question, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Agriculture has already made a statement in the House as to the available supply of labour for the harvest.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in this division there are some small farms without any men on them at all, very many without any able-bodied men, and that consequently the food supply is seriously menaced unless outside help is provided?
§ Sir R. WINFREY
I can assure the hon. Gentleman we quite realise that. We are doing everything we possibly can to provide additional labour.
§ 26. Sir J. SPEAR
asked the Minister of National Service if he will postpone the date up to which men over forty-five can volunteer for work on the land from 6th July to 13th July; and if he is aware that many of these men do not yet know that they have the choice of work on the land or military service?
§ Mr. BECK
My hon. Friend seems under a misapprehension. The date, the 6th July, applies merely to men actually under call at the time when the scheme was established, and gave them the same opportunity as those not then under call. Under the War Agricultural Volunteer scheme men over forty-five can apply for work on the land now or at any future date, provided they volunteer before they receive a calling-up notice and have not been finally refused exemption by a tribunal. Endeavours have been made to give full publicity to the scheme, both in this House and in the Press, but if my hon. Friend will let me know of any part of the country where information is not available, I shall be pleased immediately to take steps to have further publicity given in that area.