HC Deb 02 April 1919 vol 114 cc1201-2
81. Mr. SIMM

asked the Parliamentary Seretary to the Board of Agriculture if, with a view to lessening unemployment by finding work of permanent value, he will appoint a small Committee to report on the amount of cultivable land in need of new drainage; the amount of land capable of being reclaimed, and the need for alteration in hedges and ditches to meet the requirements of new methods of cultivation?


Special branches of the Board have been established to deal with both drainage and land reclamation, and these branches are already well advised as to the different areas capable of improvement. The rectification of hedges and ditches to meet modern methods of cultivation appear to be matters more suitably dealt with by owners and occupiers. In these circumstances, the Board consider that the appointment of a Committee as suggested is not necessary and might involve delay.

Notwithstanding the existence of unemployment, there is at the present time a great shortage of agricultural labour, and until the more pressing requirements of farmers in order to carry on the normal cultivation of the land have been met, it would be unwise to embark upon the large schemes for reclamation and drainage which are in contemplation, but for which labour could not now be obtained except at the expense of agriculture.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we have been told this afternoon that considerably over 1,000 agricultural labourers are in receipt of the out-of-work donation?


I can only say that all over the country farmers are very short of labour.