§ 10. Sir Percy Hurd
asked the Minister of Labour what directions he has given to employment exchange managers for the recruiting of the Women's Land Army; and seeing that many farmers, as in Wiltshire, applied two months and more ago for women workers to be trained for the coming season, what steps are being taken to meet their urgent needs?
§ Mr. Bevin
Recruitment for the Women's Land Army was almost entirely suspended during the winter because then there was a reserve awaiting employment but has now been reopened. There is no restriction on the enrolment of suitable applicants except in certain industrial areas of acute labour shortage, and enrolments have now reached the figure of 1,000 a week. The allocation of members of the Women's Land Army to employment is not done by my Department.
§ Sir P. Hurd
Will the Minister impress on his local employment exchange officials that, owing to shipping and other difficulties, if we do not get more women on to the land and get them quickly, we are in for a food shortage of a very serious kind?
§ Mr. Bevin
Pardon me, I think they have done very well for agriculture. As evidence, there were 5,000 waiting to be taken up in November who were not taken up, which I think is the best justification of the claim. I would impress on agricultural committees this fact, that they cannot keep these reserves of labour operating on a county basis. They must deal with them nationally.
Mr. De la Bère
Is not one of the causes of discouragement from enrolment the shortage of cottages for agricultural workers, and will the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to see that labour is made available for that purpose, which is all important?