HC Deb 14 December 1916 vol 88 cc871-2W

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether, in view of the shortage of agricultural labour, any steps have yet been taken by the Board of Agriculture for Scotland to secure the maximum amount of labour available for the production of the most valuable and vital foodstuffs, such as wheat, oats, and potatoes, and to reduce, as far as possible, the labour engaged in less important products, such as barley?


The Board have endeavoured, through their representatives before the Appeal Tribunals and otherwise, to maintain tillage and to prevent land from going under grass. They have not hitherto prescribed cultivation of one cereal as against another. In a late season, or when work is backward for other reasons, barley can be planted when it would be too late for other grain crops.


asked the Secretary for Scotland if he is aware that many

acres of oats and barley perished last year on account of lack of necessary labour, and that after all has been said to encourage farmers to put in as much crop as possible they are being harassed continuously by their men being called to appear time after time before the local tribunals, and many farmers are giving up hope of continuing cultivation; and if he will appoint a representative of the Board of Agriculture to whom farmers might appeal to support their right to a reasonable amount of labour?


I am aware that the crops in some districts may have suffered to some extent last season from scarcity of labour and other causes. The farmers' wish for greater certainty respecting their supply of labour in the coming season is fully appreciated by the Government, and the census now in progress is directed to that end. The Board of Agriculture are already represented at sitting of Appeal Tribunals.

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