Women's Land Army (Winding-Up)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th November 1949.

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Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash 12:00 am, 10th November 1949

asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware of the concern which is felt by farmers at his decision to bring to an end the Women's Land Army; and whether he is satisfied that this decision will not adversely affect farmers' efforts to achieve production targets.

Mr. T. Williams:

I have no evidence that this decision has caused concern among farmers, and for the reasons given in my recent announcement, I am satisfied that it should not adversely affect production.

Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that it was only comparatively recently that he was encouraging women to enter into long-term contracts with the Women's Land Army, and will he say what has caused him to reverse his policy?

Mr. Williams:

Yes, Sir. It is because the numbers of the Women's Land Army have fallen from over 50,000 to less than 15,000, and we no longer feel it necessary to maintain a national and county organisation for such small numbers. On the other hand, I have expressed the hope that the majority of these members of the Women's Land Army who are still working will remain in agriculture.

Photo of Mr Louis Tolley Mr Louis Tolley , Kidderminster

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied, after an examination of the facts, that in these days of full and overproduction in industry for the export drive labour will be available to make up the loss to agriculture which will be caused by bringing to an end the Women's Land Army?

Mr. Williams:

Yes, I believe that labour is being recruited at a rate which will enable farmers to reach their targets. I repeat my hope that these members of the Women's Land Army will not leave agriculture but will continue to work as employees of farmers.

Photo of Mr Daniel Lipson Mr Daniel Lipson , Cheltenham

How much will be saved by the closing down of the Women's Land Army?

Mr. Williams:

I cannot say without notice.

Photo of Mr Philip Piratin Mr Philip Piratin , Stepney Mile End

Is the Minister satisfied that the rate of wages which will be paid to these women workers if they go into land work in the normal way will attract them?

Mr. Williams:

Yes, Sir.