16 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 20


SIR,—In your issue of February 2nd, Mr. C. Leslie Norris writes that " The Government, however, seems at last to have

awakened to the fact that there is such a thing as agriculture, and that the land must be further cultivated, &c.," and in another letter signed by the chairman of the Dunlop Company a scheme for training young men who have not yet reached military age is indicated.

Would it not be possible to take advantage of the Govern- ment's tardy awakening and marry to it the idea of an agricul- tural training for boys of the age to which the Dunlop scheme applies?

Unless the opportunity offered by our present dependence on the home agricultural industry is seized to obtain permanent recognition of the vital importance in peace, as well as in war, of this our greatest industry, the chance is not likely to recur and the land will be allowed to fall back into the deplorable condition to which a great deal of it had been reduced by the autumn of last year.

The idea of training lads for work on the land is not new, but it has been left to charity in the main and has never formed any part of an agricultural policy or been used in any way to contribute to the solution of our social problems. Briefly, if training centres could be set up all over the country it would have the following among other advantages. It would supply a pool from which urgently needed labour for our farms could be drawn, it would give our young lads a training which would keep them from degenerating physically and mentally through unemployment, or from entering blind alley occupations. It would help immensely in raising the standard of physique among our young men and, finally, unless agri- culture is again to be shamelessly thrown overboard as soon as the nation thinks that it is safe from further risk of starva- tion, it would have produced a large body of skilled land workers certain of permanent healthy and happy employment.

Clearly it is a case for Government action. Large sums have already been spent on a Women's Land Army, a. great deal of voluntary work done to organise it and many patriotic volunteers have been enrolled and are now at work. All honour is due to them, but no one will pretend that there can be any permanence about such an organisation or any ultimate benefit. On the other hand, if an equal expenditure and energy were devoted to training our boys both the immediate and the future benefits would be immense.—Yours faithfully,

Blacklands, Crowhurst, Sussex.