HC Deb 14 June 1917 vol 94 c1162W
Major HUNT

asked the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he is aware that in some parts of the country the hay harvest is on now, and the farmers crying out for help; can he say what arrangements are being made for the release of soldiers for harvest work and what number of men have been allotted, and how they are divided among counties; and are the arrangements to be made for distribution by the county war agricultural committees or by the military authorities?


My right hon. Friend has requested me to answer this question, as the allocation of military labour for civilian purposes will in future be in the hands of the National Service Department. Demands for labour in connection with the hay harvest are ascertained by the War Agricultural Committees, and have now been communicated to the National Service Department by the Board of Agriculture. The demands will be supplied by the Agricultural Commissioners of the National Service Department, from national service volunteers, skilled agricultural labour lent by public bodies, holiday workers, women, schoolboys, and such military labour as will be at their disposal. For this purpose the military authorities have been asked to release the number of men estimated to be necessary, and they will be distributed by the National Service Commissioners under arrangement with the military authorities. The allocation of military labour to the various districts where it may be most required is at present being discussed between the National Service Department and the Board of Agriculture, and I am not, therefore, in a position at the moment to state how it will be distributed.