HC Deb 15 May 1941 vol 371 cc1258-9
53. Mr. Lipson

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will ask war agricultural executive committees to submit to him an estimate of the number of skilled agricultural workers they require to be released from the Forces in their respective areas to enable the increased expansion of home food production to be carried out, such men to be liable for recall to their units as and when military exigencies necessitate?

Mr. Hudson

No, Sir. Agriculture's need for additional labour will have to be filled from among women and older men, not by the release of young men from the Armed Forces.

Mr. Lipson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many practical farmers are convinced that they will not be able to produce the increased amount of foodstuffs required unless such men are released? Will he give the matter further consideration?

Mr. Hudson

There is also a large number of practical farmers who have experimented with the use of woman labour and are extremely satisfied with the results.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is it not a fact that in Germany men who are fully trained are released from the army to work in industry, and is it not desirable to do the same thing here?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister cannot answer for Germany.

Mr. Bevan

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I asked whether, in view of the fact that this is being done elsewhere, it would not be practicable for skilled men to be released from the Army during the busy summer months if there is no active service on which they are engaged. Are skilled men to stand idle in the Army when they could be used in industry?

Mr. Hudson

That question should be addressed to some other Minister, and not to me.

Mr. Price

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is likely to be a peak demand for labour in the autumn owing to the increased acreage under potatoes, in addition to the harvest, and that woman labour and other labour is not likely to meet that demand?

Mr. Hudson

That is a matter which is very much in our minds at the present[...] time, and we are taking steps to see that there is an adequate supply of labour.

Mr. Bevan

Has the right hon. Gentleman applied to the War Office and been refused?

Mr. Hudson

I should like that Question to be put on the Order Paper.

Mr. De la Bère

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.