HC Deb 11 May 1964 vol 695 cc20-1
21. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will detail the steps he is taking this year, in support of the agricultural industry, to promote interest in the agricultural apprentice scheme, in order to reverse the trend apparent last year when there was a drop of about 10 per cent. in the number of new apprentices; and what steps he is now taking to see that the provisions of the Industrial Training Act are applied to agriculture.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Although there was a small drop last summer in the number of new entrants to the agricultural apprenticeship scheme, the full twelve-month figures show a small increase in 1963 over the previous year. My Department continues to give the scheme active support, particularly by making it known to suitable farmers and farm workers. In reply to the second part of the Question, the hon. Member will be aware that, under the Industrial Training Act, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is responsible for establishing industrial training boards, and I understand that there have been discussions with the National Farmers' Union for England and Wales on the subject of a training board for agriculture.

Mr. Prentice

But are the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend playing no part in these discussions about the establishment of a training board for agriculture? Can he give the House no idea, for example, when such a board is likely to be appointed? In the meantime, is his Department not taking extra steps this summer in relation to this year's school-leavers to try to get a greater proportion of them introduced to the agricultural apprenticeship scheme, which is such a small scheme in relation to the size of the industry?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

The first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who is seeking the advice of the Central Training Council about progress made. In reply to the second part, of course, we wish to encourage the maximum use of the scheme and the maximum amount of effort in it, but, as he will appreciate, there are difficulties.

Mr. Snow

Will the Minister consider, within the context of this Question, the need to encourage this scheme in the light of the report which I sent this morning to his right hon. Friend about a case in my constituency where there has been one eviction and 11 more additional evictions of farm workers from their houses as a result of the sale of one farm house? It is a very serious matter, and does not this sort of thing discourage recruitment into the industry as a whole?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

That is a separate question.

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