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Agriculture

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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Water Supplies (Cattle)

49.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the importance of ensuring that a supply of clean uninfected water is made available to cattle, he will consider extending the assistance at present given to farmers to local authorities in rural districts so as to enable them, if necessary, to put in hand water schemes which cannot be financed out of rates or revenue?

I cannot undertake to introduce legislation extending grant-aid by my Department to local authorities who are water undertakers to put in hand new schemes of water supply. The grants made at present to farmers in aid of capital expenditure incurred by them in obtaining a supply are available whether or not the water is obtained from a local authority.

Diseased Cattle (Removal)

50.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will take steps to ensure that the Order prohibiting the removal of cattle infected with tuberculosis in a clinical form from farm premises to an open market is rigidly enforced; and whether he will extend this Order to include cattle suffering from contagious abortion?

All practical steps are taken to ensure that cattle infected with tuberculosis in a clinical form are not removed from farm premises to a market. With regard to the latter part of the Question, the exposure in a market of a cow which has calved prematurely within the preceding two months is prohibited by the Epizootic Abortion Order of 1922.

Returns And Forma

51.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he can how give consideration to the reduction of the number of returns and forms which are issued for completion to both farmers and farm-workers, with a view to assisting them and to enable them to devote the maximum amount of time to the production of food?

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Mr. A. Edwards) on 12th February, 1942.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the urgent need for more common sense in this matter, and further, is he not aware that common sense is the rarest sense and is not always available at the Ministry of Agriculture?

I am afraid it is because a large number of people do not exercise common sense that we have to use so many forms.

Foot And Mouth Disease Order, 1928 (Orkney)

53, 54 and 55.

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) why he refused to confirm a regulation made by the county council of Orkney on 5th January, 1943, under Section 22 (1, a) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order, 1928;

(2) whether it is his policy to refuse to confirm all regulations made by local authorities under Section 22 (1, a) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order, 1928;

(3) whether he is aware that his decision not to confirm the regulation made by the county council of Orkney under Section 22 (1, a) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order, 1928, which was sent to him by express letter on 5th January, did not reach the county council until 23rd January, and will he explain the delay?.

I refused to confirm the Regulation in question because I was satisfied that the control measures exercised by my Department were adequate to meet the situation and that in the circumstances the additional restrictions proposed by the Orkney County Council constituted an unnecessary interference with movements of stock. My refusal to confirm this Regulation was based on the merits of the particular case. In different circumstances my decision might well be otherwise. The delay in communicating my decision was more apparent than real. In the 11 days which elapsed between the receipt of the letter from the Council and the despatch of my final decision, verbal communications took place between representatives of the Council and officers of my Department.

Part-Time Workers (Industrial Firms)

56.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether his attention has been drawn to the arrangements made by some industrial firms to adopt farms in their vicinity so as to supply teams of part-time workers to help in the growing and harvesting of crops during the summer; and whether he will approach other suitable firms to induce them to give similar aid to food production in other parts of the country?

Yes, Sir. Arrangements on these lines are being made in a number of counties and should prove extremely valuable. I have suggested to all county war agricultural executive committees that they should approach local firms, either direct or through chambers of commerce, to ask for this kind of co-operation.

Prisoners Of War

57.

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will issue a statement explaining the conditions laid down for the employment of prisoners of war in agriculture and the arrangements for their control and supervision?

The conditions of employment vary according as the prisoners are living in on farms or employed from a hostel or from a central camp, and I am sending my hon. and gallant Friend copies of leaflets explaining these conditions which are issued to farmers who employ prisoners. As regards the second part of the Question, working parties of 12 or more prisoners are provided with an armed escort, who is responsible for their safe custody and also for checking any idleness and securing a proper output of work. Farmers employing unescorted prisoners are responsible for their safe custody. It is in all cases the responsibility of the employer to see that the work of the prisoners is properly organised and supervised.

In the case of prisoners being let out to farmers, who sees that the Regulations are carried out?

The farmer is responsible for the custody and supervision of the men employed on his farm, and the farm is visited regularly by an officer from the camp.