HC Deb 27 November 1945 vol 416 cc1060-2
25. Mr. Snadden

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many releases under Class B in respect of agricultural 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.

Mr. Fraser

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. Fraser

I can assure the hon. Member that we are fully aware of the needs of agriculture.

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?

Mr. Kirkwood

This is a Daniel come to judgment.

Mr. Fraser

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. Hudson

But is it not time something was done?

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, to which he has referred, was made by the Minister of Agriculture or by the Minister of Labour?

Mr. Fraser

We are allowed to interpret it as we will, but we are subject to the quota limitation agreed by the Government.