HC Deb 12 March 1919 vol 113 cc1274-5
48. Major HOWARD

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the discontent existing amongst agricultural labourers owing to their wages being below those prevailing in other industries, and that a strike is being organised in the Eastern Counties to occur at such a time that it will cause large areas of land to remain unsown and produce no crops this year, thereby causing heavy loss to the community and serious unemployment during the autumn and winter months; and whether, seeing that the farmers are at present paying the highest wages the industry can bear under existing conditions, he will consider the advisability of making an early statement on agriculture, giving such guarantees as will enable the farmers to increase the wages of their men up to the level of those in other industries for similar hours?


I am aware that there is a certain amount of discontent among agricultural workers, and that in some districts threats of strikes have been made. The whole question of the present minimum rates of wages is under consideration by the Agricultural Wages Board, and I earnestly hope that both employers and workers will take all reasonable steps to avoid the disastrous consequences which any general stoppage of work on the land would involve. I hope very shortly to be in a position to make a further announcement with regard to the agricultural policy of the Government.

Colonel THORNE

Can the hon. Gentleman say who is standing in the way of arriving at a settlement?


I do not think anybody is standing in the way. The matter is being considered, I believe, this week, by the Agricultural Wages Board.