HC Deb 22 July 1941 vol 373 cc770-2
21. Mr. McNeil

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is in a position to make a statement on the recruitment of women auxiliaries for the Land Army in Scotland; whether a satisfactory proportion of farmers in Scotland is applying for this type of harvest labourers; and is he satisfied that Scottish farmers are aware of this source of harvest labour?

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. Johnston)

The vital importance of securing this year's harvest makes it imperative that all available labour will be used. Among the volunteers to assist in the gathering of the harvest are 650 women who have enrolled as an auxiliary force to the regular Women's Land Army. Applications by farmers for assistance at harvest time from these women auxiliaries should be sent at once to the local Agricultural Committees who will allocate the volunteers available in the neighbourhood according to priority of application, etc. So far comparatively few applications have been received for the services of these volunteers, but I am taking every step possible to bring the matter to the urgent attention of the farming community.

Mr. McNeil

Will the right hon. Gentleman, as one of the steps, consider making a personal broadcast to farmers dealing with all types of available harvest labour?

Mr. Johnston

I will consider that, but there is a large number of available channels for harvest labour in addition to women auxiliaries.

23. Mr. Neil Maclean

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has considered the provision of suitable accommodation for women of the Land Army and others who are engaged on work on the land; and whether, where accommodation is limited, he has considered the hiring of caravans?

Mr. Johnston

Farmers who employ members of the Women's Land Army must themselves in the first instance make definite efforts to provide suitable accommodation for them as well as for other agricultural workers, if possible in the farm premises or in nearby lodgings, but failing this by utilising caravans or similar vehicles or huts. If suitable arrangements cannot thus be made by the farmers in an area, hostels are being provided at convenient centres and I am certainly prepared to supplement these hostels where necessary by caravans and the local agricultural committees will be glad to have particulars of any caravans available.

Sir T. Moore

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that these caravans are provided with keys which the girls can have so as to assure reasonable privacy?

Mr. Johnston

Certainly, Sir.

Miss Ward

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that some practical women are consulted about accommodation in the hostels?

Mr. Johnston

That is already provided for. There are women officers attached to all the agricultural district committees.