§ 25. Mr. Snadden
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many releases under Class B in respect of agricultural 1061 workers have been submitted by W.A.E.C.'s; how many have been forwarded by the Department of Agriculture; and how many have been granted.
Up to 22nd November, 638 recommendations for release had been received from Agricultural Executive Committees in Scotland. Of this total, 136 were found to satisfy the very stringent tests prescribed for the release of individual specialists under Class B, and were supported by the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, and 72 cases are still under consideration by the Department. Of the applications supported by the Department, 97 have so far been approved and seven rejected.
§ Mr. Snadden
Will the Minister bear in mind that we are facing a world shortage of food, and, if food is as important as coal, will he not get more men out of the Forces under Class B in order to get on with the production of food?
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if he will compare those figures with similar figures given for a county of England, and if he will then say that he is really satisfied that his colleagues are doing everything that is required in present circumstances?
I have said that we are aware of the needs of the agricultural industry. Other Ministers are aware of the needs of the industries for which they have some responsibility. We are living in a time when there are many demands made on labour, and agriculture is taking its place along with the claims of other industries.
§ Mr. Stubbs
May I point out to the Minister that, unless we do get the skilled men back to the land, there will be a considerable reduction in food production in this country next year?
§ Mr. Maxton
Can the Minister tell us whether the strict definition of a specialist, 1062 to which he has referred, was made by the Minister of Agriculture or by the Minister of Labour?
We are allowed to interpret it as we will, but we are subject to the quota limitation agreed by the Government.