HC Deb 27 October 1970 vol 805 cc17-8
31. Mr. David James

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to enable both the income of farmers and the wages of agricultural workers to reach a level sufficient to prevent the movement from agricultural to other occupations.

Mr. Prior

The Government are committed to selective agricultural expansion. The industry's continuing rise in productivity should enable it to achieve this notwithstanding some further decline in the labour force.

Mr. James

Will the Minister bear in mind the fact that in Dorset, which is a wholly agricultural constituency, with 4,700 farms and holdings and with only 4,300 agricultural workers, of whom 498 are youths aged under 19, the drift from the land because of the greatly increased industrial wages elsewhere makes it increasingly hard to carry out tasks like fencing and ditching?

Mr. Prior

I realise that there are problems, but it is a great credit to the agricultural industry that it has been able to increase its productivity rate as much as it has.