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Harvest Workers

Volume 436: debated on Monday 28 April 1947

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53.

asked the Minister of Agriculture at what figure he assesses the labour force necessary to bring in the 1947 harvest; and what steps he is taking to see that this force is available.

It is impossible to give a precise figure for the number of workers required for the harvest. As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the statement which I made in the course of the Debate on the distribution of manpower on 19th March last.

Is the Minister aware that the 1948 harvest will be just as important; and can he assure us that he is looking as far ahead as 1948?

I can only repeat the assurance previously given. I think that, what with prisoners of war, volunteers and other supplementary labour, including the Women's Land Army, there will be an adequate labour force for the 1947 harvest.

However willing the volunteers, they are never likely to be as good as those working with the farmers most of the year, and, that being the case, would the right hon. Gentleman consider urging the Minister of Labour to make some arrangements, whereby prisoners of war who desire to stay in this country may do so?

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that a prisoner of war, whose date for repatriation has arrived, can opt to stay on for a further six months, if he so desires?