HC Deb 09 November 1920 vol 134 cc1001-2
43. Mr. R. YOUNG

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that in 1915 the then Postmaster-General publicly enumerated prepared schemes which the Government had ready to cope with dangerous social problems which might arise as a result of unemployment after the War was over, and that among these schemes were plans for dealing with afforestation, improvement of harbours, and the building of light railways; whether, seeing the anticipation of much unemployment is now being fulfilled, it is intended to put these prepared schemes into operation; and, if so, to what extent will they be utilised and in which parts of the country will they take effect?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Dr. Macnamara)

I have been asked to reply. I have not been able, in the time at my disposal, to trace the announcement referred to by my hon. Friend, but a number of schemes of the nature described are in fact in process of being carried out. The Forestry Commissioners propose planting 5,000 acres during the present winter, and this is expected to employ about 500 men. In addition to a number of schemes for harbour development and maintenance under consideration, a number of harbour schemes financed from the Development Fund are at present in progress in Scotland and Ireland. In connection with light railways, the Ministry of Transport has established a Development Committee, which is in course of considering various schemes which have been put forward with a view to selecting those most required in the national interest. With regard to the whole matter, the Cabinet Committee on Unemployment is considering further avenues which seem to afford an opportunity of providing employment.

Lieut.-Colonel MURRAY

Is it not the fact that the 5,000 acres to be planted by the Forestry Commissioners is a part of their ordinary programme, and is there any other programme which deals with unemployment apart from that?


I gather that the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggests that there ought to be an additional programme, and if that is so I will put it to the Forestry Commission.


Has the question of land reclamation been considered especially on the shores of the Wash, where thousands of acres could be economically reclaimed if properly dealt with?


I put that to the Development Commissioners on a previous occasion when the local authorities came to me. I will put it to them again, as it is a matter for them.