HC Deb 18 January 1940 vol 356 cc221-2
54. Mr. Hannah

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that in the parish of Albrighton, Shropshire, a farm is half derelict because its chief worker is in camp; that discontent is growing in agricultural communities over the conscription of farm workers; and will he consider, in the interests of food production and in order to facilitate complying with Government orders about ploughing, the advisability of making agriculture a reserved occupation, irrespective of age?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

The question of the appropriate age of reservation for men engaged in agriculture has already received the Government's careful consideration and has been the subject of consultation with representatives of employers and employés in the industry. As my hon. Friend will be aware the age of reservation for farmers and most classes of farm workers is 21, so that in existing circumstances the only men in agricultural occupations who will be called up for compulsory military service are those of the 20-year-old group. In addition, there are arrangements whereby the calling up of men for military service can be postponed in cases of special difficulty in order to prevent the dislocation of farming operations. The Government does not consider it to be desirable that, by a further reduction in the age of reservation, agriculture should be placed in a position in which it would make no contribution in man power to the needs of the Armed Forces even though in existing circumstances its contribution must be a relatively small one. I am not aware of the particular case referred to in the Question, but if my hon. Friend will send me details, I will have inquiries made.

Mr. W. Roberts

Can the Minister tell me whether in the few cases where an owner farmer does happen to be called up it is possible for representations to be made to have him released from the Army?

Sir R. Dorman-Smith

Cases have to be treated on their merits.

Back to