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Publications Salesmen, West Midlands

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 November 1950

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asked the Minister of Agriculture the cost per annum to his Department of the two men who were selling official publications in the Kidderminster Cattle Market on 10th October, 1950; how many such salesmen are employed in the West Midlands; and the total cost per annum.

The two men referred to are the only persons employed in the West Midlands on the sale and distribution of the Ministry's technical publications to farmers. They operate in six counties and the average total cost per annum is about £1,400 for salaries, travelling and subsistence.

Does the Minister realise that all these technical publications are in any case available from any reputable stationer or newsagent? In these circumstances is it necessary to continue the employment of these commercial travellers?

Were it not necessary, we should not employ them. It is the fact, however, that we are very anxious that technical documents should be placed in the hands of farmers, whom we are asking to increase the output of agricultural produce by 1952 by £100 million over 1938.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why it is necessary to have two men to do this work? Would not one do it equally well?

Could not the Minister get the National Farmers' Union to do the work for him for nothing?