HC Deb 01 December 1938 vol 342 cc575-6
26. Mr. T. Smith

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of a proposal, to which assent has been given by the Dorset County Agricultural Committee, of employing boys from the Borstal Institution at Portland on land-drainage schemes; what arrangements are proposed with regard to payment by the owners of the land; whether he is aware of the strong opposition to this proposal on the ground that unemployed men in Dorset should be engaged for the work; and whether he will have the matter reconsidered?

Sir S. Hoare

Yes, Sir; the idea is that if Borstal inmates were employed to clear certain waterways in the catchment area of the River Frome in Dorsetshire, this work would provide suitable occupation for some of these youths and would serve a valuable purpose. The Prison Commissioners are advised that this necessary work has for many years been neglected because of financial difficulties and that if the work is not done in this way it would not be done at all. In these circumstances the question of competition with the local unemployed does not appear to arise, while the reclamation of the land for agricultural purposes may well create ultimately an additional demand for local labour. Negotiations with the Dorset County Council are still in progress, and I regret that I am not in a position to give any further details of the scheme.

Mr. Smith

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any information as to the general conditions on which this work is to be done by these boys?

Sir S. Hoare

We are at present in communication with the Dorset County Council on the subject, and I shall be happy to send the hon. Member the conditions when I receive them.

Mr. T. Williams

Who are the owners of this land?

Sir S. Hoare

I could not say without notice.

Mr. Williams

Should the ownership be in private hands, will the private owners make any contribution towards the work being done?

Sir S. Hoare

That is one of the questions we are discussing with the Dorset County Council.