Water Supplies (Kent And Sussex)
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he is aware that in the Weald of Sussex and Kent there is an urgent and unsatisfied demand for piped water supplies to improve both milk production and the amenities of home for agricultural workers, since much of the well-water is inadequate in volume and poor in quality; and if he will arrange a joint conference of his Department and that of the Ministry of Health with local authorities in the area, in order to consider ways and means of providing this service for all localities.
The reply to the first part of the Question is "Yes, Sir." As regards the second part, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I are collaborating in the improvement of water supplies, and there is close consultation between local authorities and war agricultural executive committees in working out proposals for mains extensions when labour and materials are available.
Has the attention of the Minister been called to the absurd situation arising in the South of England, an instance of which is given in the "News Chronicle" today, by which there is an ample supply of pipe water available for military camps, but neighbouring farms and cottages are not allowed to use it? Will he look into that matter at once? Will he also deal with the whole question when he makes his promised statement on agriculture?
I am not aware of the case mentioned by the Noble Lord, but if he will bring the facts to my notice I will look into them. The Noble Lord will, however, be aware that, under Section 3 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1941, and Section 5 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1944, grants up to 50 per cent. can be made to such schemes as those referred to in the Question, and that already 860 schemes have been approved in Kent and Sussex since the Acts came into force.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is impossible for any individual farmer or landowner to get the local authorities to act, because their reply is that they are held up by the Government?
I can only repeat that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and I are collaborating on this.
Is it not time the Minister gave up circumlocution in theory and went in for a campaign of common sense?
The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Earl WINTERTON:
51. To ask the Minister of Agriculture, if he is aware that owners of felled woodlands and worn-out coppice land in the southern counties would like, where circumstances are favourable, to convert the areas in question into fruit or arable land; and if he will arrange with the War Department to sell bulldozers no longer required for military purposes to W.A.E.C.s so that they may be hired by landowners for this purpose.
To save time, Mr. Speaker, I will not ask the next Question, No. 51 orally, but have it treated as a written Question.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, before the commencement of the next fruit spraying season, he will arrange for his experts to make a categorical statement as to the extent to which D.D.T. can usefully and safely be employed in this connection.
. I am arranging for a notice to be published regarding the use of D.D.T. by farmers and horticulturists. But until further research and experiment on the practical application of this new insecticide to agriculture and horticulture have been carried out, any statement issued must necessarily be in general terms.
In view of the alarmist reports that one reads in the Press about D.D.T. possibly being able to destroy fruit trees, will the Minister be good enough to see that his advice is given with the shortest delay?
I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the notice will be issued long before the next spraying season.
Devon (Training And Releases)
asked the Minister of Agriculture how many men from the Services have been accepted for training in agriculture in the County of Devon.
Thirty-three ex-Servicemen have been accepted for agricultural training in the county of Devon under the Government scheme. Of these, 24 are now in training, six are awaiting places and three have withdrawn.
asked the Minister of Agriculture how many applications for the release of agricultural workers under Class B have been received by the Devon W.A.E.C.; how many of these cases have been supported and for warded by that committee; in how many cases his Ministry have recommended re lease; and how many releases have been obtained.
Up to I5th November, the Devon War Agricultural Executive Committee had received 286 applications, of which they supported 86. Thirty-nine of these applications were recommended by my Department to the appropriate authorities, who have approved release in 23 cases and rejected one case for non-compliance with the essential conditions. Decisions in the remaining 15 cases are outstanding.
In view of these rather insignificant results, will the right hon. Gentleman stimulate the release of agricultural workers by relaxing the present rather rigorous restrictions?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman will know that we are only allowed to back up the applications of those who are recognised as specialists, but we hope there will be a speeding-up shortly.
In view of the importance of the subjects involved, would the Minister consider issuing figures for the whole country similar to those which he has given for Devonshire?
I will consider that request.
Drainage Workers (Wage Payments)
asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will now arrange for catchment boards and other land drainage authorities now paying their workmen by fortnightly cheque, to pay weekly and in cash.
The method adopted by drainage authorities for the payment of wages to their workmen is a matter for settlement within the industry itself and not within my competence.
asked the Minister of Agriculture what protection he proposes to afford tenant farmers with T.T. dairy herds against the intrusion of foxhounds, horses and huntsmen amongst their herds with the possibility of scattering their cattle amongst neighbouring herds of non- T.T. cattle by breaking down fences and leaving open gates, such as happened recently in West Norfolk.
Incidents such as that in West Norfolk are infrequent and most hunts do their utmost to cause as little damage as possible to agriculture. I do not consider, therefore, that any special action is needed. Hunting is only carried on by courtesy of the farmers concerned, and hunts have no legal right to hunt over private property. If they do so and the farmer objects, he can sue the hunt or individual huntsman for trespass and claim damages; or make a claim for compensation from the hunt for any damage caused.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that farmers have to go to a great deal of expense to get their herds accredited T.T., and unless they can be protected against this kind of thing, there will be a great deal of damage? Further, is he aware that in this neighbourhood last season a number of in-calf heifers slipped their calves as a result of the hunt passing through their field?
As I have already stated, a hunt has no legal right to hunt over private property, and if farmers object, they can take the steps I have indicated.
But does my right hon. Friend realise that, so far as tenant farmers are concerned, the landowners reserve sporting rights and, therefore, the tenant farmers are without protection?
If any private farmers who object to hunting over their land are in any way intimidated by landowners, and such cases are brought to our notice, we will certainly look into them.
Is it not a fact that the reservation of sporting rights has nothing to do with cases of trespass, or the rights of anyone to recover damages? Sporting rights have nothing to do with it.
Brood Mares (Rations)
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the approaching breeding season and the necessity for increasing the present supply of horses in the country, he will now arrange for rations to be granted for brood mares and young stock.
Rations are granted for horses used for essential purposes where the owner cannot provide sufficient feeding stuffs of his own growing. The supply of feeding stuffs at present available does not permit the issue of rations to other classes of horses.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will be able to make supplies of sodium chlorate available to farmers for the coming season.
I am informed by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that the supply of sodium chlorate is steadily improving. While it cannot be guaranteed that farmers' full demands during the coming season will be met, substantial quantities of this weed killer should be available.
Will the Minister confer with his colleague, the Minister of War Transport, so that this material will be allowed to be carried by rail?
That scarcely arises out of the Question, but should any complicated cases arise and we are made aware of the fact, we will look into them.
Italian War Prisoners
asked the Minister of Agriculture how many Italian prisoners of war are employed in the agriculture industry in England, Scotland and Wales, respectively.
The numbers of Italian prisoners of war employed in agriculture on 31st October were 49,000 in England, 9,000 in Scotland, and 5,500 in Wales.
Has the right hon.Gentleman received representations from a number of war agricultural committees that, before these prisoners are withdrawn from work, they shall be given reasonable notice by his Department? Is he prepared to act on those representations?
I can assure the Noble Lord that reasonable notice will be given before Italians are withdrawn.
Will the right hon. Gentleman try to withdraw English agricultural workers from the. Armed Forces and get rid of these Italians?