HC Deb 13 March 1941 vol 369 cc1424-5
57. Sir P. Hannon

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will make a statement on the progress which has been made in recruitment for the Women's Land Army; whether this important source for the provision of labour upon the land is receiving the special attention of the county war agricultural committees; whether comparison of results receives the attention of his Department; and whether special effort is being applied where slackness is evident?

Mr. Hudson

Well over 2,000 new volunteers have been enrolled in the Women's Land Army during the last nine weeks. These have either been placed in employment, or preliminary training has been arranged for them. A broadcast announcement appealing for further volunteers was made two days ago, following a conference of Women's Land Army county chairmen and county secretaries, which I addressed on the urgency of the problem facing the Women's Land Army. The results of the recruiting and the needs of the Women's Land Army throughout the country are receiving the constant attention of my Department, and every effort is being made to ensure that all areas are doing what is required of them

Sir P. Hannon

Is the Minister co-operating with the Minister of Labour to see that there shall be no conflict between women workers on munitions and the Women's Land Army?

Mr. Hudson

There is not necessarily any conflict, but we have the matter under consideration. That is one of the reasons why it has been necessary to proceed with caution in Warwickshire.

Viscountess Astor

Does the Minister not think that if the Government had taken advice which was given to them two years ago and had made preparations, this situation would not have arisen?

Mr. Hudson

I was not Minister of Agriculture then.

58. Mr. Cecil Wilson

asked the Minister of Agriculture the circumstances under which Land Army girls were released in order to round up hares for the Waterloo Cup; how many girls were so employed; what number of hand hours were given to this occupation; what other work was neglected; and how many other persons were engaged?

Mr. Hudson

I understand that five members of the Women's Land Army acted for three days recently as beaters for the Waterloo Cup, which was run on the farm where they were employed. The five girls concerned were due for a holiday, and the three days of the Waterloo Cup are normal days of holiday for employés on this farm. I am not aware that this break in the girls' work on the farm had any appreciable effect on food production. They were engaged in sacking potatoes for market, and, owing to the hard frost, the potato pits could not be opened during the period in question.

Miss Rathbone

Is it not objectionable that girls should be used for this form of cruelty?

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