HC Deb 03 March 1947 vol 434 cc31-3
58. Mr. Gooch

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he consulted with the representatives of the farm workers before withdrawing any objection on the part of agriculture to the operation of double summer time.

Mr. T. Williams

I informed the representatives of the farm workers of the Government's decision on daylight saving before it was announced, and explained that the agricultural objections to daylight saving had had to be subordinated to overriding national considerations.

Mr. Gooch

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if any hardship results from the operation of double summer time, the farm workers will suffer most, but will he accept my assurance that, despite that, they will put their backs into the job? Will the Minister in future revert to the admirable practice of consulting farm workers' representatives when considering important matters of this kind?

Mr. Williams

I can assure the hon. Member that the views of the National Farmers' Union and of the workers' union were well known to me and were also made plain to the Members of the Government before the final decision was taken. It is true that they were not consulted because previously I knew their views. It is only fair to say that the National Farmers' Union representatives accepted the decision but entered their protest against it.

Mr. Stubbs

Will the Minister make it clear whether the representatives of the farming community were consulted before the Government's decision, outlined in the announcement by the Home Secretary last week, was taken, or were they only informed after the decision had been taken?

Mr. Williams

I can only repeat what I said a moment ago—that they were not consulted but they were informed of the decision, and representatives of the National Farmers' Union, while accepting the decision, entered their protest.

Mr. Collins

Did my right hon. Friend make inquiries during the negotiations particularly from the farm workers' union to see if the obvious disadvantages could be outweighed by some special considerations?

Sir P. Macdonald

Is it not a fact that at the General Election Labour candidates gave a pledge against the continuance of double summer time, and is not this, therefore, a further breach of their Election pledges?

Mr. Williams

I can only speak for one Labour candidate and he did not make any promise of the sort.