asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he will seek to secure for the Women's Land Army similar conditions and recognition as enjoyed by the other women's services; whether he is aware of the appeal by Lady Denman for £100,000; is he satisfied that this sort of appeal is desirable in view of the great national importance of this service; is he aware that members of the Women's Land Army receive no pay during sickness and are frequently dismissed when ill with only 12s. 6d. sickness benefit; and will he seek to protect these women in this service?
The position of members of the Women's Land Army is altogether different from that of members of those women's services which are in State employment and there cannot, therefore, be similar conditions of work. I can see no objection to the raising of a Women's Land Army benevolent fund. Members of the Women's Land Army and their dependants will be able to receive assistance from this fund in cases of special hardship in the same way as do members of the Forces and their dependants from the various charitable and benevolent funds established for their benefits. Generally speaking, members of the Women's Land Army work under the ordinary conditions of employment which apply throughout the agricultural industry. They have precisely the same rights to pay during sickness and to benefit under the National Health Insurance schemes as are enjoyed by other civilian agricultural workers.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is widespread discontent among members of this body, which may lead to serious repercussions if something is not done? Will he look into the matter again?
With regard to future plans for the demobilisation of women in the Land Army, are they not the responsibility of the Government? Is not this one of the matters being dealt with by the Minister of Works and Planning?
In view of the fact that the benevolent fund exists for the purpose of making payments to women from the Land Army when the war is over, is not that part of the responsibility of the Government in plans for reconstruction? Are the Government making a contribution, as a good employer, to the benevolent fund?