County Executive Committees

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd November 1949.

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Mr. Vane:

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the large claims now made on the time of members of county agricultural executive committees attending meetings of committees, sub-committees, inspections and other work even without taking into account reading the increasing papers and memoranda circulated; and whether he can estimate approximately how much time a prospective member of a county agricultural executive committee should be able to give to this work before accepting an appointment.

Mr. T. Williams:

I am aware of, and am very grateful for, the considerable amount of time devoted voluntarily by members of county agricultural executive committees to the work of the committees, and I discussed with the county chairmen at a meeting earlier in the year means of preventing their becoming overburdened with work in consequence of the new duties placed upon them. It is not possible to estimate even approximately how much time a prospective member should be able to give to the work of a committee; it varies as between counties and according to the individual member's personal circumstances.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

asked the Minister of Agriculture if he will state in tabular form by counties the number of staff employed by war agricultural committees, their salaries, the provision for office, motor cars and other expenses, and the total cost on an annual basis to the taxpayer.

Mr. T. Williams:

I am sending the hon. Member a statement showing for each county the latest available figures for salaries and travelling expenses and the relevant number of staff. Figures for the other items are not readily available, and their compilation would involve an inordinate amount of clerical labour.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

Does not the Minister think that the attention of the Auditor-General should be called to these figures, and is it not a fact that the expense of the administration of these farms is more costly to the country than if they had been left in the hands of the original owners?

Mr. Williams:

As usual, the hon. Member could not be further from the truth.