§ 30. Mr. Henderson Stewart
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the East Fife W.A.E.C. estimate that there will be a shortage of 3,500 or more potato gatherers in their area during the coming autumn; that this is causing hesitation on the part of farmers in planting increased potato acreages; what action he is taking to meet the deficiency; and when an announcement of his plans will be made.
§ Mr. Westwood
I am aware of the estimates provided by the Agricultural Executive Committee to the Fife Education Committee and hope to be in a position shortly to furnish the Agricultural Committee with satisfactory details as to the labour which will be available for the potato harvest.
At the same time, I should like to take this opportunity of giving to farmers in Scotland a general assurance on labour supplies for the grain and potato harvests. While I am not yet in a position to give precise details of the numbers of seasonal workers who will be available from different sources, there has been a most satisfactory response from education authorities to my appeal with regard to the employment of school children, and there is no doubt that prisoners of war and other labour will be forthcoming in adequate numbers to make good any deficiency in the labour force as compared with last year.
§ Mr. Stewart
In addition to his proposals, will the right hon. Gentleman take 1675 steps to ensure that the farmers concerned are in fact reassured, because at the moment they are not reassured and so are hesitating to carry out the Government's requests?
§ Mr. Westwood
I am perfectly sure that if the hon. Gentleman reads the answer I have given when it appears in Hansard tomorrow he will find that I have given the reassurance for which he asks.