HC Deb 05 March 1940 vol 358 cc236-7W
Mr. Malcolm Macmillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that, owing to the withdrawal for naval and Army service of many hundreds of agriculturists from the Western Isles, many smallholdings will be left fallow and food production decrease this year; and whether, in order to meet this situation, he will urge Army and naval authorities to give these men some weeks of leave soon for their land work?

Mr. Colville

I am aware that the response to the call to the armed Forces has given rise to special difficulties in maintaining food production in the crofting districts of the Western Isles. Consultations are now taking place with the Service Departments on the subject, and I can assure the hon. Member that his suggestion will be carefully considered.

Mr. Boothby

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the serious shortage of agricultural labour in the North-East of Scotland due to the fact that a substantial number of key farm workers have been called up for military service; and, in view of the necessity for maintaining food production at the highest possible level, whether he will take steps to release those who have already been called up, and to exempt trained agricultural workers from military service in the future?

Mr. Colville

I am aware of the labour difficulties to which the hon. Member refers. As I informed him on 21st November arrangements were made with the War Office for the consideration of applications for the temporary or permanent release from military service of farm workers who are irreplaceable key men. A certain number of men have been so released and arrangements to postpone military training for a larger number are being made. As regards the last part of the Question I would refer to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to a Question by the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) on 22nd February.