HC Deb 07 December 1944 vol 406 cc722-3
55. Mr. Loftus

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will consider withdrawing Italian labour from Suffolk and Norfolk farms, in view of the general and growing complaints as to slackness and waste of time, and substituting other more efficient labour instead.

Mr. Hudson

Justifiable complaints about the work of Italian prisoners relate only to a small proportion of them. The employment of German prisoners is being extended where conditions permit, but no other source of additional labour is available, and in present circumstances a general substitution of Germans for Italians is both impracticable and undesirable.

Mr. Loftus

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is growing indignation in Suffolk and Norfolk about the present state of affairs, and that in one case where 34 of these men worked on a quarter of an acre the value of that work was only 9s. for a whole morning?

Mr. Hudson

I am quite sure there would be much greater indignation and protest if I were to withdraw Italian prisoners.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Does the Minister accept the suggestion that Germans, who are our enemies, are better workmen than Italians, who are our Allies?

Major Keatinge

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the growing resentment against these prisoners who have been doing nothing whatever to help with the harvest?