HC Deb 09 March 1923 vol 161 cc907-8W

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can state approximately how many men could be employed in the work of reclamation and draining of waste, derelict, and other similar land not now under cultivation; and whether he will at once prepare and put into force a scheme of employing men at present unemployed on this important work?


I regret that it is quite impossible to give even an approximate estimate as to the number of men who might be employed on the type of work to which the hon. Member refers, but the question of reclamation has been repeatedly considered by the Ministry, as a means of alleviating unemployment, and has been rejected, owing to many difficulties, such as special housing accommodation, transport, etc., which render schemes of this kind entirely uneconomical. As regards drainage, I would remind the hon. Member that the Ministry has, since the 1st of October last, been initiating drainage schemes for the relief of rural unemployment all over the country. Up to date, no less than 469 schemes, exclusive of 110 water supply schemes, have been approved, and, according to the latest complete returns, for the week ending 24th February, 1923, over 6,000 men were employed. But for the recent bad weather, which has held up schemes in many places, a far larger number of men would have been at work.