HC Deb 22 January 1942 vol 377 cc415-6
47. Mr. Salt

asked the Minister of Agriculture the number of accidents, fatal and otherwise, notified to his Department in connection with the Ministry's Schoolboy Farming Scheme?

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

Six accidents involving schoolboys were notified to my Department during 1940 and 1941. Two of them were fatal, but in both cases the accident occurred when the boys were playing and did not arise directly out of their employment on farm work.

48 and 49. Mr. Salt

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) whether he is aware that a 14-year old Warwick boarder pupil, working under the Ministry's scheme, was injured through no fault of his own, resulting in a lost eye, and that he has not received compensation; and will he remedy this with a view to encouraging parents and boys to co-operate with the scheme in the future;

(2) whether he is aware that the courts have recently held there was no necessity for schools to make arrangements for supervision of any description when sending out parties of boys under the Schoolboy Farming Scheme; that the parents' permission regarding the scheme is not necessary; and, as such conditions are not conducive to the future success of the scheme, will he take steps to get these conditions altered?

Mr. Hudson

I am aware of, and much regret, the unfortunate case to which my hon. Friend refers. In addition to such provision as is made for compensation under the common law or by statute, my Department has arranged with the Accident Offices Association for a special insurance policy which can be taken out on behalf of the boys by schools and which provides further cover against accidents. On the question of supervision, I cannot, of course, comment on the court's interpretation of the law as applied to this particular case. My Department has always emphasised and will continue to emphasise the need for proper supervision on the part of both schools and farmers. It will also continue to advise schools to arrange that all boys should be insured under the special policy. The whole question of the insurance and supervision of boys engaged in agricultural work will no doubt be considered further by the committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Robert Ryde which I have recently appointed to advise me on matters affecting public and secondary schoolboys helping in agriculture.