§ 62. Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is now in a position to make an announcement further to his decision of May to have an inquiry into wages paid to agricultural workers; on what date he received a request for such an inquiry from the Low Pay Unit; and, as agricultural workers are now relatively worse off than they were in the mid-60s, if he will expedite this inquiry.
§ Mr. Peart
No such inquiry is envisaged.
Last January a district organiser of the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers wrote to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about agricultural wages. In an interim acknowledgment he was told that inquiries were being made into the point he had raised. Apparently this gave rise to Press reports foreshadowing action by my right hon. Friend to set up an inquiry into agricultural wages. This was not the case, and both the district organiser and the general secretary of the union were so informed.
On 21st July I received a copy of a report from the Low Pay Unit entitled "A New Deal for Farmworkers: the case for an independent inquiry into the pay of farmworkers". I have arranged for this to be brought to the notice of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales.