§ 50. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Minister of Agriculture by what authority officials of his Department have interviewed clerks of county councils and urged that vacancies are to be created on agricultural education sub-committees with a view to a particular political party being represented?
§ 49. Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that officials of his Department have endeavoured to persuade certain county councils to elect members of a certain political party to county statutory committees to the exclusion of persons not members of that party; and whether he will give an assurance that this practice will now be discontinued?
§ Dr. ADDISON
These questions appear to arise out of statements made in the course of, or subsequently to, a recent meeting of the Hertfordshire County Council. The person or persons 1588 responsible for them appear to have been equally ready to neglect acquainting themselves with the facts as they were anxious to foment mischief. There is not a word of truth in the statement that I have endeavoured to persuade certain county councils to elect members of a certain political party to county statutory committees to the exclusion of persons not members of that party. Under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Act, 1919, the Minister has a statutory right to appoint not more than one-third of the members of a county agricultural committee or of any sub-committee to which powers of the agricultural committee are delegated, and in exercising these powers, I necessarily review the constitution of that part of the committee appointed by the council, since it is my endeavour to secure that each of the interests concerned—agricultural landowner, farmer and agricultural labour—is represented. I have not interfered, or attempted to interfere, with the appointment of the county council members of these committees, nor to influence in any way the appointment of members nominated by outside bodies and appointed by the council. The position, shortly, is that I have exercised, and shall continue to exercise, my powers of appointment under the Act so as to ensure, as far as possible, that all agricultural interests are duly represented on these committees.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
May I ask if we can have an assurance that any appointments made by the Minister of Agriculture to these agricultural committees will be persons with an intimate knowledge of agriculture?
§ Dr. ADDISON
Yes. I do not think I have made any appointment but which fulfils that condition. The position is that some sections are not fairly represented.
§ Mr. LAMBERT
May I press the point as to whether persons appointed to these committees will have an intimate acquaintance with agriculture?
§ Mr. ALPASS
Is it not the fact that agricultural workers have been grossly unfairly represented on these committees in the past?