HC Deb 05 December 1955 vol 547 cc16-7
25. Major Legge-Bourke

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many officers of his Department and the National Agricultural Advisory Service will be attending a three-day course arranged to take place in Cambridge in January, 1956; what will be the cost, respectively, of their subsistence, travelling and other allowances, and other items connected with the course; what is its purpose; to what extent other provincial areas are to hold similar courses; and why this method of disseminating information has been chosen in this case.

Mr. Amory

This is a refresher course which will be attended by about 218 officers of the Department, mostly officers of the National Agricultural Advisory Service. The estimated cost will be £562 for subsistence, £141 for travelling, and £25 for the expenses of speakers. Its purpose is to ensure that advisory officers are kept up-to-date in their knowledge of technical developments and the results of research, and to enable them to discuss local technical problems. Refresher courses for groups of advisory officers are held from time to time in all N.A.A.S. provinces, but in the Eastern Province it has been considered desirable to bring all the advisory staff together on this occasion.

Major Legge-Bourke

Is my right hon. Friend aware that most of the advisory officers who attend these conferences, which I understand take place in one form or another almost annually, feel that their time would be very much better spent if they were doing the work for which they were appointed, advisory work with growers and farmers?

Mr. Amory

It is because I attach such value to the quality of the advisory work they do that I think refresher courses of this kind are very important indeed. It is not the case that big conferences of this kind occur except at pretty long intervals, though smaller group conferences are of annual and even more frequent occurrence.

Mrs. Mann

Would the right hon. Gentleman try to arrange refresher courses for housewives to explain to them where they can buy bacon and butter and tea at the very low prices he quotes from that Box?