HC Deb 06 February 1951 vol 483 cc1520-1
33. Captain Duncan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what directions he has given to Scottish farmers as to the proportion of the acreage of potatoes grown in 1950 that is to be grown in 1951; and what steps he is taking to guarantee labour to farmers to lift their crops.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. McNeil)

Scottish farmers are being asked through the agricultural executive com- mittees to grow in 1951 about the same acreage of potatoes as they grew in 1950. As in the past all practical steps will be taken to help farmers to secure the harvest labour that they need.

Captain Duncan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that certain local authorities are passing resolutions which will reduce the amount of child labour available for the lifting of the crops? What steps does he propose to take to deal with the matter? Does he realise that it is necessary to take steps now in order to secure the planting of the crops?

Mr. McNeil

I understand the conflicting objectives which appeal to local authorities—and they are conflicting—but we have experienced a good deal of co-operation. However, I will act as speedily as possible.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

What is the good of growing the large acreages of potatoes when at present seed potatoes in Scotland are held up on railway sidings because of the failure of British Railways—for three years in succession—to provide tarpaulin sheets to cover them?

Mr. McNeil

If the hon. Gentleman gives me a specific case, I will look into it. The movement of seed potatoes from Scotland is of great national interest, and I watch it carefully with my right hon. Friends.

Mr. Carmichael

In view of the conflicting interests in regard to child labour, is my right hon. Friend taking any steps to reduce child labour and to employ people who will not be denied further education during that period?

Mr. McNeil

My hon. Friend knows that I have never consented to any demand for children which could he met otherwise.

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