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Agricultural Workers

Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 28 June 1949

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he will now consider amending the Control of Engagement Order so as to permit of agricultural workers being free to choose their own occupation as a means of earning their livelihood.

I am keeping this question under constant review and will not retain this control any longer than is necessary.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what might have been perfectly all right as a temporary expedient has now become an abuse, and that the continuance of this control over agricultural workers is a complete negation of democracy? Surely it ought to be done away with now? We want to keep as many people as possible on the land, but not against their will.

If the hon. Gentleman could give me any examples of where this has become an abuse, I will gladly have them examined.

Is the Minister aware that this Order is probably stopping more young men from coming into the industry, because of the fact that they will be under control, than it is in keeping men in the industry?

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has not got the right facts. Young people, indeed any persons coming into this industry, are free from control for a period which gives them an opportunity to see whether they want to settle down or not. I repeat what I have said before, that this matter is under consideration and that we shall not keep the Order a moment longer than we need.