HC Deb 08 February 1968 vol 758 cc647-9
Q3. Mr. John Wells

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to transfer responsibility for the Agricultural Training Board from the Minister of Labour to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the fact that its nature and duties are more closely allied to that Minister's responsibility.

Q9. Sir G. de Freitas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to make the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food responsible for the Agricultural Training Board.

Mr. George Brown

I have been asked to reply.

No, Sir.

Mr. Wells

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Agricultural Training Board deals with employers far more scattered and far more individualistic than any other training board? The Minister of Labour is completely out of touch with the employers' requirements and the Board is completely out of touch with the industry's requirements. Will the right hon. Gentleman think again?

Mr. Brown

I accept the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I represent an agricultural constituency and I understand that there is something special about the nature of this industry. I do not believe that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is out of touch, nor that the Board is out of touch. But I will, of course, convey to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Sir G. de Freitas

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, for nearly 80 years, the problems of the agricultural industry have been recognised to be so unlike problems of other industries that a special Minister has been responsible for them? Will he consider this when looking at this suggestion again?

Mr. Brown

The situation is not like it was 80 years ago. I am sure my right hon. Friend understands that. I spent some time at the Ministry myself and we have been very careful to try to get it established that the agricultural industry is an industry. It is tremendously important that we do nothing that destroys this concept The old idea that agriculture was something separate, in which everyone lived differently and workers got much lower wages, is something that we should not reincarnate now. That is why I should be reluctant to accept the suggestion in these two Questions.

Mr. Godber

Is the right hon. Gentleman implying that he will ensure that steps are taken in the coming Price Review to see that agricultural workers and farmers get a fair deal?

Mr. Brown

That would be called in Jamaica a pretty fast ball.