HC Deb 23 September 1943 vol 392 cc390-1
59. Mr. Walter Edwards

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that Miss A. E. King, III, John Scurr House, Stepney, London, E.I, whose father and brother are serving with the Merchant Navy and Royal Navy, respectively, was rejected by the Essex County Committee for service with the Women's Land Army because of her colour; and what action he intends to take upon this question?

Mr. Hudson

Miss A. E. King was interviewed and considered for membership of the Women's Land Army. The Land Army does not itself employ the volunteers, but places them with agricultural employers. Careful inquiry has been made into the possibility of finding employment and a billet for Miss King, but when it became apparent that this was likely to prove extremely difficult, she was advised to volunteer for other war work where her services could be more speedily utilised.

Mr. Edwards

In view of the insult which has been passed out to this girl and to her father and brother, both of whom are doing valuable war work, cannot the Minister do something about the farmers who are responsible for this position?

Mr. Hudson

I do not employ members of the Women's Land Army. It is not like other Women's Services.

Viscountess Astor

Speak up, we cannot hear a word.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the Minister make it clear that in his capacity as a Minister of the Crown he does not endorse the colour bar in any way?

Mr. Hudson

It is perfectly clear.

Earl Winterton

What is clear?

Mr. Hudson

That I do not endorse the colour bar.

Mr. Shinwell

If farmers employ Italian labour, why cannot women labour be employed?

Mr. Hudson

I do not force Italian labour on to farmers.

Mr. Edwards

In view of the fact that this will obviously impede recruitment for the Women's Land Army, what action does the Minister intend to take?

Mr. Hudson

Recruitment for the Women's Land Army has been completely suspended.

Mr. Lawson

Why cannot the Minister be explicit? Is he not aware that the world listens to matters of this kind, which affect the integrity of the British people?

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