Class B Releases

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th December 1945.

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Squadron-Leader Emrys Roberts:

asked the Minister of Agriculture how many applications for the release of agricultural workers have been received by the Merioneth W.A.E.C.; how many have been supported and forwarded to his Department by the Committee; how many cases were recommended for release by his Department; and in how many cases release has actually been approved.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Nine applications for Class B release of agricultural workers under the individual specialists scheme have been dealt with by the Merioneth- shire War Agricultural Executive Committee up to date; four of these have been forwarded to my Department, which recommended two to the appropriate authorities, who have approved release in both cases.

Photo of Sir Gifford Fox Sir Gifford Fox , Henley

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) what particular conditions are to be applied to the Class B block release of agricultural workers from the services; in what way the scheme is expected to work; and if he will state the total number to be released by next harvest;

(2) what particular conditions are to be applied to Class B block releases of agricultural workers from the Services; whether it is estimated that these arrangements will produce the authorised number of agricultural workers to be released; and that these authorised numbers will be sufficient for next harvest.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

As the answer is somewhat long, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the answer:

As announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service on 4th December, the Government have agreed to the inclusion under the Class B block release arrangements of up to 10,000 agricultural workers. Under the block release system the Service Departments are informed of the occupational classes in which men are required for release in Class B and also of the numbers authorised. The individual men are identified by the Service Departments by reference to their central records on which the men's pre-enlistment civilian occupations are recorded. The Service Departments select the appropriate number of men in the specified occupations in age and service order (excluding those whose release in Class A is imminent) and offer them release in Class B. Service men are, of course, entitled to refuse Class B release and wait their turn for release under Class A.

Under the block release system, applications for the release of individual workers cannot be entertained by the Agricultural Departments or Agricultural Executive Committees. The limited scheme for the release under Class B by nomination of individual specialists in agriculture (i.e. men required for posts of a managerial or supervising character) will be continued as at present. Class B block, release to produce the numbers authorised will be offered by the Service Departments to men classed as general farm worker, market garden worker, shepherd, cattleman, stockman, yardman, dairyman, carter, horseman, ploughman, tractor driver and farm labourer.

Save in exceptional circumstances, men who accept Class B release will be placed either with their previous employer or on another farm near their homes by the Local Office of the Ministry of Labour and National Service after consultation with agricultural executive committees. Every effort will be made to place the men on the farms to which they desire to return. Arrangements have also been made for the release in Class B by nomination of a few hundred rural craftsmen, e.g., blacksmiths, wheelwrights, saddlers, estate maintenance workers, etc., who are required for urgent work in connection with food production and whose age and service group is 50or less. Applications for such release should be made to the agricultural executive committee for the county in which the rural craftsman's business is situated. Applications supported by committees will be considered by the Agricultural Department concerned, who will recommend release, up to the authorised number, in cases which comply with the essential conditions, and pass them to the appropriate authorities.

I expect that the authorised number of agricultural workers to be released under these arrangements will be working on farms long before next harvest. In addition it is contemplated that a substantial number of experienced workers will return to the industry in the next few months on release in Class A. The Government will take all possible steps to ensure that the labour needed for the harvesting of the 1946 crops is available.