§ 54. Sir G. Jeffreys
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his Department has expressed any recent views as to the permitted rents of tied agricultural cottages which have hitherto been rented on a purely non-economic basis; and whether the £3 a week to labourers is now regarded as an economic wage?
My Department has not recently expressed any views as to the rents of tied cottages. It is a matter for agricultural wages committees. As regards the latter part of the Question, there was general agreement that £3 a week was a fair wage. Whether it can be strictly called an economic wage when prices have to be raised to meet it is a question involving economic theory on which I hesitate to express an opinion.
§ Sir G. Jeffreys
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a statement was published saying that his Department had expressed an opinion and that one county war agricultural committee at once acted upon it?
§ Mr. Bellenger
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable discontent in rural districts because some landlords are putting up the rents of tied cottages, and will he discourage that form of war profiteering?
I take exception to the suggestion of the hon. Member that this is war profiteering. After a meeting with farmers', farm workers' and land owners' organisations held by me last year it was agreed that, in view of the then rise in wages, it was only reasonable that in many cases rents should be raised to cover increased costs of maintenance and to 1674 encourage landowners to make improvements in cottages. I deprecate strongly the suggestion made by the hon. Member.