HC Deb 12 June 1941 vol 372 cc332-4
49. Mr. Higgs

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will give the total number of men and women employed in agriculture in Warwickshire according to the June returns, 1939; and the approximate total number to-day?

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. R. S. Hudson)

The total number of workers, men and women, on agricultural holdings exceeding one acre in Warwickshire was returned in June, 1939. as 8,200 It is not in the national interest, however, to publish figures of workers at the present time.

Mr. Higgs

Is the Minister aware that more land coming under the plough necessitates more labour and that farmers are concerned for fear that their present labour will be taken from them? Will he give some assurance that there is no necessity for this fear?

Mr. Hudson

I have no reason to suppose, although I cannot give the exact figures, that the 4th June returns for this year will not show that there has been an increase of labour available in Warwickshire.

51. Sir H. Williams

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he has been furnished by the county war agricultural executive committees with an estimate of the additional numbers of skilled agricultural workers needed for the harvest period; and what arrangements he has made with the Service Departments for the temporary release of such men?

Mr. Hudson

I have not asked committees to furnish me with the estimates mentioned in the Question. A scheme is already in operation, however, whereby agricultural workers serving in the Army at home can be released for periods up to 28 days in the year to return to their former farms to help at times of seasonal pressure. Moreover, instructions have been issued by the Army Council which permit of soldiers, when not required for military duties, helping local farmers under certain conditions. As the amount of assistance that can be given by the Armed Forces must depend on the military situation, I have urged committees to see that the fullest possible use is made of local part-time civilian volunteers and of schoolboy camps.

52. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will now confer with the Minister of Labour and the Secretary of State for War with a view to in creasing the man-power for labour on the land for the purpose of securing increased production of food in the national interests?

Mr. Hudson

As I stated on 22nd May, additional man-power is being made available for work on the land.

Mr. De la Bère

Is it not an unassailable truth that you can neither fight nor work without food, and can the Minister explain why it is that the War Office and the Ministry of Labour continue to frustrate the provision of adequate supplies of labour for food production?

Mr. Hudson

I have already stated that additional supplies of man-power are being made available.

Mr. De la Bère

I propose to raise this matter again at an early date.

59. Sir J. Mellor

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will give an estimate of the average additional number of agricultural workers required in Warwickshire for every additional 100 acres ploughed up; and whether he is advised that sufficient labour will be available for the harvest?

Mr. Hudson

No reliable estimate can be formed. As regards labour for harvest, instructions have already been sent to war agricultural executive committees.

Sir J. Mellor

Did not the Ministry of Agriculture obtain information on the point raised in my Question before launching the ploughing-up campaign?

Mr. Hudson

No, Sir.