HC Deb 25 November 1964 vol 702 cc1268-9
29. Mr. Derek Page

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will give the number of licences granted to gangmasters in each of the last five years in the counties of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, respectively; how many of those were granted by magistrates, local authorities and other authorities, respectively; and under what statutory authority these licences are granted.

Mr. George Mackie

As the Answer contains a table of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The figures relate to licences granted by local authorities to whom the licensing powers originally vested in justices in divisional petty sessions were transferred in 1894. The statutory authority is the Agricultural Gangs Act, 1867, as amended by the Local Government Act, 1894.

Mr. Page

What does my hon. Friend consider was the purpose of the original Act? Was it not mainly a morals protection Act, and is it not time for a review?

Mr. Mackie

Yes; the Act was brought into force nearly 100 years ago and there probably is a case for review. It was brought in originally to ensure that gang-masters in these areas were responsible people, whether male or female, to hire children, young persons or women with a view to their being employed in agricultural labour on lands not in their own occupation. If there were any need for a review, the local authorities which have the job of licensing these people would have brought it to the notice of my Department. So far they have not done so.

Following are the figures:

Norfolk Cambridgeshire, including Isle of Ely Lincolnshire
1960 59 57 84
1961 69 70 93
1962 70 53 75
1963 59 49 67
1964 58 44 69
* Licences remain in force for 6 months only but may be renewed.