HC Deb 08 April 1941 vol 370 cc1419-20
72. Mr. Thorne

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that the catchment board are discharging elderly men from river and sea wall work and retaining young men eligible for the Forces; and that the elderly men are clearing ditches and making up walls, all unskilled labouring work; and why these men are stopped from joining the village Home Guard?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture (Mr. T. Williams)

I am assured that the catchment board to whom I believe the hon. Member is referring are not in fact pur- suing a policy of discharging elderly men. The board are concentrating a large part of their efforts at the present time on work which is needed for improving the drainage of agricultural land. They are naturally employing, so far as possible, the older men in their service for this by no means unskilled work, and using those of their younger men who have not been called up for military service on the more strenuous and exposed jobs connected with the sea walls. As regards the second part of the Question, the board's workmen are not, I understand, prevented from joining local units of the Home Guard, but are encouraged to join the board's own company in preference, since it is desirable that their services should be constantly at the board's disposal in case of emergency.