HC Deb 03 April 1947 vol 435 cc2217-8
60. Mr. Joynson-Hicks

asked the Minister of Labour how many Poles, displaced persons, German prisoners of war, German ex-prisoners of war, Italian prisoners of war and Italian ex-prisoners of war, respectively, are now employed in agriculture; and how many he estimates will be so employed by 1st September, 1947.

Mr. Isaacs

No displaced persons, German ex-prisoners of war or Italian prisoners of war are employed in agriculture. The number of Poles so far placed in farming and forestry is approximately 2,600; about 1,400 Italian ex-prisoners of war are employed in the industry, and the present allocation of German prisoners of war is approximately 163,500 I cannot at this stage estimate the numbers in these various classes that will be employed in agriculture by 1st September, 1947.

Mr. Joynson-Hicks

Does the right hon. Gentleman feel that, on the figures which he has given to us, and his ignorance of the future, it will be possible to implement the assurance of his Parliamentary Secretary that there will be no drop in the labour force in agriculture by the time of the next harvest?

Mr. Isaacs

I can implement that. We are quite satisfied that we can supply agriculture with the labour it needs. I must be ignorant of the proportion of the different classes of labour, until I know how many of the main class will be required.

Major Tufton Beamish

Has the Agricultural Workers Union agreed to the employment of displaced persons on the land?

Mr. Isaacs

I am only dealing with the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Driberg

Can my right hon. Friend say why it is difficult to estimate the number of German prisoners who will be employed on 1st September, since we know that they are being repatriated at a steady rate of 15,000 a month?

Mr. Isaacs

I am asked to give estimates of the proportions of several classes. Until I get the information as to which men are German prisoners, I cannot give the other figures, but I can say that we are in a position to supply agriculture with the labour required.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Will my right hon. Friend take into account the question of making arrangements for those prisoners who have gone back to Germany and who wish to return, so that they can take up jobs in agriculture?

Mr. Isaacs

If they have been here and gone home again, and there are other people on the Continent willing to come, we shall give them preference.