HC Deb 21 March 1940 vol 358 cc2100-1
6. Sir Percy Hurd

asked the Minister of Labour what action he is taking to facilitate the transfer of farm labour from one district to another, in view of the number of farm workers registered as unemployed and the acute shortage of skilled farm workers in many districts?

7. Sir Annesley Somerville

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will, in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, take steps, well in advance, to organise an increased number of women workers to deal with sugar-beet production, and to develop cultivation of early vegetables over a wider area, so as to reduce the importation of vegetables?

Mr. E. Brown

I am in consultation with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Agriculture on the labour requirements of the agricultural industry for the coming year, and my right hon. and gallant Friend is already engaged in preparing schemes for supplementing the normal labour supply. I can assure my hon. Friends that the local offices of my Department will co-operate to the fullest extent in the recruitment of labour as required in the different areas.

Sir P. Hurd

Can my right hon. Friend say what steps he can take to let these young fellows of 18 or so know that they can do useful and interesting work on the land in the interval before they are called up?

Mr. Brown

I shall do all I can to assist the decisions to which my right hon. and gallant Friend comes, but it is the responsibility of my right hon. and gallant Friend to supplement the labour supply for agriculture.

Mr. Butcher

Will the Minister consult his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in order to make sure that opportunities for women workers are not diminished by evacuation schemes?

Mr. Brown

That would not be for my Department, but for my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of Agriculture, who is now going into all the circumstances for the supplementation of the labour supply.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these people will be welcome in the Highlands of Scotland, where we require a labour force, as women are unable to cope with the amount of work that they have to do already?

Mr. Brown

It is not only Scotland but the whole country that is making this great effort.