HC Deb 01 August 1935 vol 304 cc2838-9

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking in regard to the inspection of accommodation for hop pickers in Worcestershire and Herefordshire prior to the arrival of the pickers in hopfields?

The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)

I am arranging for one of the medical officers of my Department to visit some of the hopfields in these counties before the arrival of the pickers, but as my hon. Friend is aware, the responsibility for supervising the accommodation provided for hop pickers rests with the local sanitary authorities.

34. Sir P. HARRIS

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the report of the medical officer who visited the West Kent hopfields last year and inspected the camps thereon; whether he will consider publishing this report, especially as extracts from it are quoted in the report of the local medical officer for the area; whether he proposes to do anything to secure improved conditions for the hop pickers, both as regards the sanitary conditions and the provision of proper water supplies; and, seeing that hop-picking commences in August, whether he will give his immediate attention to this problem?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. I do not consider that there would be any advantage in publishing this report, and I am not aware that any extracts from it have been quoted in the report of the local medical officer of health. But after consideration of the report of my medical officer, the Ministry addressed appropriate communications to the local authorities concerned, with whom it rests to secure proper conditions for the hop pickers. I have also arranged for one of my medical officers to visit some of the hop fields in Kent again this year both before and after the arrival of the hop pickers.


Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this problem of deficient sanitary conveniences has been before his Department for many years and that progress, even after all those years, has been very slow, and will he use every possible pressure to stimulate employers to bring their facilities up to modern requirements?


I will gladly do everything I can in the matter, but I think progress depends a good deal upon co-operation between local authorities and employers, together with such assistance as my Department can give.


In default of appropriate action by local authorities, has the right hon. Gentleman any power to insist that a minimum standard of decent accommodation shall be provided?


Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is impossible to give these people an adequate water supply as long as there is no organised water supply in rural areas?


I thought, perhaps, my hon. Friend would have suggested the grid.