asked the Minister of Agriculture why he ordered that land drainage schemes for the relief of unemployment should be discontinued on the 31st May last; whether he is aware that the Gloucester Agricultural Committee and other county committees have unanimously passed resolutions urging that this useful work should be proceeded with as the summer is the time when the work can be best done, and that the National Farmers' Union have intimated that such a course would not interfere with the supply of labour on the land; and whether, since, taking into account the contributions made by owners and occupiers and the large employment of unskilled labour, expenditure on drainage schemes for the relief of unemployment is more economical and of greater national benefit than the payment of doles, he will reconsider his decision?
The closing of all drainage work unemployed on 31st May was decided upon by His Majesty's Government after full consideration of all the conditions, and was accepted by drainage authorities and County Agricultural Committees as an essential condition when applying for grants from public funds to enable them to carry out schemes. The matter has received constant attention and my right hon. Friend has been able to arrange with His Majesty's Treasury for schemes carried out by County Agricultural Committees to continue to be financed by Government up to 30th June, by which date it is expected that all the schemes which are now in hand will be completed. My right hon. Friend regrets that, as he explained in reply to the hon. Members for the. Forest of Dean and Stroud on the 29th May, the Government is not able to extend the scheme beyond the date mentioned.