19 JUNE 1936, Page 18


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,--May I be allowed to add to Mr. Somerset de Chair's excellent scheme for the improvement of the status of the unemployed ? Would not the National Labour Reserve wish to render the equivalent hours of service for their reserve pay, food,11thelter or clothing ? In towns and country so much is neglected throUgh lack of funds. The cost of labour is generally the most expensive item in any undertaking. Would they not also organise themselves in a similar way to the Winter Distress League ? How many hospitals, for instance, would not welcome their service ? Here there are innumerable windows always needing attention, walls that should have been washed down or painted are left untouched year after year through lack of funds. As in the streets of London there are yards that need to be kept free of litter and possibly a plot of land tucked away between odd buildings which in return for a little attention and a few packets of seeds would give such joy throughout the summer months. A short 'bus ride through the poorer districts of any town will reveal the same need of labour. Only a short time ago a letter appeared in The Times appealing for funds to enable the Winter Distress League to continue the employment of men engaged in clearing a slack heap in order to make a playing field. There must be many such heaps which could be so wisely employed. In the country there are acres and acres of wasted land which could be put to a useful purpose. Destructive weeds, such as ragwort, spread rapidly. The country section of the National Labour Reserve could supply their town brethren with vegetables. Having started the hare, suggestions tumble over one another. Would not organisations such as Toe H, the British Legion and other voluntary bodies, besides Town Councils, be able to advise and co-operate in carrying out such schemes which- beside lifting these people out of the slough of despond—idleness--would render to their country a great service by the improvement of the health of these individuals as a result of-happy occupation in giving service.