§ Mr. Awbery
asked the Minister of Agriculture how many men left the agricultural industry in 1952; how many of them were under the age of 35 years; what effect he estimates this will have upon the production of food; what is the cause of the exodus from this essential industry; and what is being done to encourage workpeople to remain in it.
§ Sir T. Dugdale
In December, 1952, there were 21,900 fewer men returned as regularly employed in agriculture in England and Wales compared with the year before. The December returns are normally less reliable than the June returns for comparative purposes because of seasonal effects, but the decline between 1951 and 1952 shown by the June returns was about the same as that shown by the December returns. The number of men under 35 is not known. There has been no comparable decline in casual and seasonal labour.
The decline in the regular labour force has been outweighed by an increase in productivity per man, with the result that production has increased. About 8,000 men were called up in the year, and many of the remainder will have gone into other industries, which compete strongly for labour.11W
On the last part of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 23rd April to the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger).