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Women's Land Army (Milk Distribution)

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 25 March 1943

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50.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that some milk producer/retailers are employing Land Army girls to distribute milk from door to door, and that the rate of wages in their case is 48s. per week as against the trade board rate of 55s. paid by other milk retailers; and whether he will take steps to remove this anomaly?

Women's Land Army labour is only supplied for employment with milk producer/retailers where minimum agricultural wage rates apply—that is, where only part of the worker's time is spent on the round and she does not therefore come under the trade board rate.

The point I am trying to get at is that the lower rate of wages paid to these land girls for doing exactly the same work as retail milk distributors means that they are blacklegging the trade board rates of wages.

Is the Minister aware that certain co-operative societies are using no fewer than seven or eight of these land girls in large towns to distribute the milk, and is this not a sad misuse of labour needed on the land?

A case: of that description in Wiltshire has come to my notice, and I am having investigations made. If it is found that my hon. Friend is accurate, then arrangements will be made for the girls to be correctly employed or to be found other work on the land.

Is the Minister satisfied that a considerable part of their time is occupied on agricultural duties other than milk distribution?

If they are mainly or almost wholly employed in milk distribution, it is not at all what I want. I want these mobile women to be employed on the land, producing milk. If the hon. Member can give me any cases, I shall be only too delighted to look into them.