§ 69. Mr. de ROTHSCHILD
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the arrangements now being made by certain beet-sugar companies 8 for the introduction of considerable numbers of Irish seasonal workers into the Eastern Counties for field work on this year's beet crop; and whether, having regard to the present serious unemployment among agricultural labourers in these districts, he will take steps to co-operate with the Agricultural Workers' Union, with a view to ensuring that the local supply of labour may be fully absorbed before additional labour is imported to compete in the agricultural labour market?
§ The MINISTER of AGRICULTURE (Mr. Noel Buxton)
In view of the increased acreage under sugar-beet, special consideration has been given to the question of the additional workers who will be required by growers this year, and following consultations between my Department and the Ministry of Labour, the Beet Sugar Factories Committee have arranged for the factories to recommend growers to notify their requirements for additional labour to the local Employment Exchanges. I understand that the National Farmers' Union are also urging upon their members the importance of recruiting any extra workers required from local sources, and are calling attention to the facilities afforded by the Employment Exchanges. The Ministry of Labour has also invited the co-operation of the workers' organisations concerned. I am hopeful that the special steps which have thus been taken will result in the majority of growers employing local labour, but I understand that two of the factories have arranged for the recruitment of a proportion of Irish workers. Copies of circulars issued in the matter by the Factories Committee have been supplied to the organisations representing agricultural workers. I am sending copies to the hon. Member for his information.
§ Mr. THURTLE
Is the Minister of Agriculture aware that the primary justification for this subsidy being given by the House of Commons was that it would provide work for British workers, and, in view of this fact, does he not 9 think that it is quite a breach of the undertaking to allow Irish workers to be employed?
§ Mr. BUXTON
We are doing our utmost, with every hope of success, to ensure that the labour will be entirely from this country.
§ Mr. SAMUEL
Why does the right hon. Gentleman object to these Irish workers coming in to East Anglia and taking away the work from East Anglian workers, when he allows the products of foreign workers to come in to take away the work of British workers?