HC Deb 07 December 1950 vol 482 cc529-30
53. Mr. Gooch

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware of the great need for agricultural mechanics on British farms; and if he will introduce training schemes to combine knowledge of the soil and the machines.

Mr. T. Williams

I am aware of the need for farmworkers especially skilled in the use and maintenance of agricultural machinery. The primary responsibility for the provision of training lies with local education authorities, who receive grant-aid for such training. Guidance has been afforded them in Reports of the Joint Advisory Committee on Agricultural Education, which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education and I have commended to their attention and which local education authorities generally are known to be implementing so far as practicable. Training of this kind, both residential and part-time, is provided also by certain other bodies, and I am sending my hon. Friend details.

Mr. Gooch

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that when an unusual type of machine breaks down, a farmer often has to go many miles to find a man competent to put it right? Does he appreciate that many more trained mechanics on our farms would greatly assist food production?

Mr. Williams

Nothing would give me greater joy than if all the unions associated with the industry would combine for the purpose of providing an apprenticeship scheme.

Mr. Vane

Is the Minister aware that the best thing he can do to encourage a growth of the knowledge of agricultural mechanics is to ensure that the county agricultural executive committees do not keep unnecessarily large and now obsolescent machinery?

Mr. Williams

County agricultural executive committees are not keeping obsolescent machinery.