asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that a considerable number of country-bred women with agricultural experience, other than those of conscription age, are lost to the agricultural industry as they are not allowed to enrol in the Women's Land Army and prefer to join one of the other Services open to women rather than stay on the land because in those Services they are supplied with clothing, boots, and other equipment free of charge and without having to surrender clothing coupons; and whether he will consider amending existing Regulations to permit of these women joining the Women's Land Army?
No, Sir. Regular women agricultural workers are not called up by the Ministry of Labour under the National Service Acts or the Registration for Employment Order, and I do not think that any appreciable number of them are offering themselves for the women's Services for the reason mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend. The reasons for not enrolling women agricultural workers in the Women's Land Army were explained in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mrs. Cazalet Kerr) on 4th February, 1943.
Does not my right hon. Friend realise that there is a grievance among a large number of these women, whom I might call civilian women, that the women of the Land Army should receive clothing and equipment, since 1st January, 1943, equivalent to 107 coupons? How is it possible for any ordinary woman to provide herself with clothing and equipment on the present clothing ration?
My hon. and gallant Friend, like some other people, is labouring under a misapprehension. Perhaps he had better read exactly what is the situation. He would then realise that agricultural workers who earn their permanent living in agriculture are not really under any disadvantage.