HC Deb 12 October 1916 vol 86 cc217-8W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture if he is aware that much difference of opinion exists as to the meaning of the recent instruction to tribunals respecting the non-calling up for military service of men engaged in agricultural pursuits; will he make a clear statement of what is intended, as far as it is possible, at present to do; and is he aware that the beneficial effect on food production of the instructions will be neutralised if they do not provide for such men to be left on the land for spring as well as for autumn seeding?


The arrangement provides that, subject to any decision by the Man-Power Distribution Board and subject to any revision which developments of the military situation and further information in regard to the agricultural situation may demand, no more men from among those now employed in agriculture will, until 1st January, 1917, and, in the case of men whose whole time employment on a holding is necessary for maintaining milk production until 1st April 1917, be called to the Colours, except in return for men released from the Colours for work at agriculture.

This arrangement provides farmers with a period of respite during which they should not only make every effort to release men who are fit for general service, but also prepare for replacing men who may be required to join the Forces later on.

The military authorities have strongly impressed on the Board that Army requirements necessitate the power of revision during January next as regards ordinary farming, and during next April as regards dairy farming. It is impossible to indicate at the present time what modifications of arrangements may be required to meet any situation which may arise, and no guarantee can be given that the existing scale of labour allowed will not require to be revised.

Farmers will be well advised, therefore, to strain every nerve to prepare for changes which may become necessary during January and April, 1917.