HC Deb 23 November 1939 vol 353 cc1395-6
58. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Agriculture the total annual cost under existing conditions of the administration of the Women's Land Army; and whether, since recruiting for this has now ceased, and with a view to economy, he will reorganise its administration on the basis of voluntary unpaid service?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The estimated cost of headquarters administration under existing conditions is about £8,000 per annum and the estimated cost of the expenses of Women's Land Army committees is about £35,000 per annum. The director of the Women's Land Army and the chairmen and members of Women's Land Army committees are giving their services free. Moreover, clerical assistance in county committee offices, and in a number of cases office accommodation and typing assistance also, is being obtained free of cost. Although no further recruiting campaign for the Land Army is being conducted at present, it is necessary to prepare to meet demand for additional labour on the land next year, and enrolment therefore continues of volunteers who are willing to offer full time service, as and when required, and to work anywhere that employment offers. Volunteers are, however, being warned that they may have to wait some time before there is a demand for their services. It is essential to continue to provide now for an efficient organisation capable of preparing to deal with the needs of the future as well as those of the present. I see no reason, therefore, for reorganisSng the present administration, which is already receiving a great deal of voluntary assistance.

Mr. Lipson

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend satisfied that the amount of work still to be done justifies this very heavy expenditure? Will he not take steps to find out whether some of these offices can be filled by voluntary unpaid people, on the lines of the women's voluntary services?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

I am satisfied that the money is being well spent. We have a great mass of voluntary assistance.

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