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Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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Dairy Farmers (Human Food Crops)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether it is his intention to compel farmers with 100 per cent. attested pedigree milk herds to grow such crops as potatoes, sugar-beet and wheat if this necessitates reducing the size or restricting the expansion of such herds?

As a general rule a dairy farmer is expected as a first priority to provide from his own land a substantial proportion of the feeding requirements of his cows. He is then expected, if he has further land available, to make his contribution towards essential human food crops. In some cases, however, it may be in the national interest for a dairy farmer to grow a high proportion of crops for direct human consumption and to be given supplementary coupons under the feeding stuffs rationing Scheme for the feeding of his dairy herd. The responsibility for administering these arrangements rests with county war agricultural executive committees acting under general instructions from my Department which are designed to secure the maximum production of milk and of crops for direct human consumption. If my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind and will let me have details, I shall be happy to investigate it.

County War Agricultural Executive Committees


asked the Minister of Agriculture the method of appointment, election or selection of the members of county war agricultural committees?

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) on 23rd April last.

Is the Minister aware that considerable dissatisfaction exists among farmers with the composition of county war agricultural committees, and will he take steps or consider means towards making these more representative of all who are engaged in agriculture?

Perhaps the hon. Member had better read my answer, when he will see that his Question has already been answered by implication in that answer.

Dispossessed Farmers (Appeals)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether any, and if so what, rules of procedure have been laid down for the hearing of cases in which farmers have been dispossessed of their farms by county war agricultural committees; and whether there is any right of appeal?

In reply to both parts of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to my statement in the Debate on the Adjournment on 9th October, 1941.

Is the Minister aware that cases exist in which efficient farmers have been dispossessed, presumably with the intention of installing sons of farmers with a view to keeping them out of the Forces?

Flower Growing


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will permit market gardeners to grow a limited number of flowers for cutting, in view of the beneficial effect of flowers even in war-time and of the difficulty which horticulturists have of paying their overhead charges by growing vegetables only?

Under the Horticultural (Cropping) Amendment and Consolidation Order, 1942, flower crops (other than flower seeds to raise a flowering crop) may be grown in the open up to 25 per cent. of the acreage grown on the holding in 1939, or if no return was made for that year under the Agricultural Returns Act, 1925, up to 50 per cent. of the acreage grown to flowers on the holding in 1941.


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will relax the Cropping Order of 1943, which prohibits nurserymen from growing any flowers whatever from seed and substitute a reduction to 20 per cent. of the individual nurseryman's pre-war practice in that respect?

I regret that in view of the over-riding interests of food production, I cannot accept my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion. The provision in question was included in the Horticultural (Cropping) Amendment and Consolidation Order, 1942, in order to ensure that land which could grow a food crop is not used for non-essential purposes. County war agricultural executive committees have been instructed to allow exceptions to the provision in the case of plants of which the seed has a short germination life.

Workers (Civil Defence Duties)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the arrangements which he has made in connection with the hours of duty as part-time workers in the Civil Defence services for full-time agricultural workers during the hay and harvesting season, having special regard to the short supply of labour available on many farms throughout the country?

Instructions have already been issued by the Home Office to Fire Force Commanders that in fixing the hours of duty of part-time personnel full consideration should be given to the ordinary employment and day-to-day obligations of the persons concerned. Similar instructions govern the service of other part-time Civil Defence personnel. I am assured by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security that he has no reason to think that local authorities will not pay full regard to the needs of agricultural workers at times of special pressure.

Will my right hon. Friend take active steps to ensure that all these local authorities really do realise the grave shortage of labour on farms? This really is a genuine matter which should receive every consideration. Local authorities are not always aware of the difficulties.

If my hon. Friend knows of any particular case and will let me know, I will have it looked into.

Rooks (Destruction)


asked the Minister of Agriculture what representations he has received objecting to the destruction of rooks under the Rooks Order, 1940; and whether he will postpone the date on which the Order will come into force this year?

I have received a few representations, mostly from the same individual, objecting to the destruction of rooks under the Rooks Order, 1940. There is no question of postponing the date on which the Order will come into force this year, as it has been in force since 17th April, 1940.

Workers (Badge)


asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will sanction a badge for agricultural workers to indicate that though they have no uniform they are doing vital war work?

The Minister said that it is not necessary. Is he aware that it is often not necessary to give recognition to various forms of war service, but the fact remains that it is done? Is the Minister further aware that when it is done it gives great encouragement and satisfaction to those who are giving good service to the country?