HC Deb 16 June 1953 vol 516 cc721-2
34. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the present number of people employed in agriculture in the crofter counties; and how it compares with last year.

Mr. Snadden

The latest figures available from the agricultural returns show the numbers of persons employed as farm workers in these counties at December, 1952, as 14,404 compared with 14,377 at December, 1951. The figures for June, 1952, and June, 1951, were 14,120 and 14,875, respectively.

Mr. Grimond

Will the hon. Gentleman say whether he is satisfied, in view of these figures, that we are getting sufficient labour in the crofter counties? If he is not satisfied, will he look again at the existing legislation as it applies to these counties where there are special difficulties?

Mr. Snadden

It is true that the decline in the crofter counties is greater than the decline in the rest of Scotland. It is 5.4 per cent. as against 1.8 per cent. That causes us concern. At the same time, we have no evidence of acute labour shortage, but we are watching the position carefully.

Mr. John MacLeod

Has my hon. Friend any figures for shepherds and stockmen, especially on hill farms?

Mr. Snadden

The Question asked for the number of people employed. I have given the figures which cover all employees in agriculture in the crofter counties. I could not answer the hon. Gentleman without looking up a lot of figures.

Mr. MacLeod

But my hon. Friend will be aware of the anxiety expressed by farmers about the difficulty in getting shepherds to live in out-of-the-way places, especially in the crofter counties?

Mr. Rankin

On a point of order. The Joint Under-Secretary said that he could not give a full answer without looking up a lot of figures. Is not that his job?

Mr. Snadden

I answered the Question on the Order Paper. The supplementary was a different question.