The Akaroa Mail. FRIDAY, MARCH 17. 1916. COMPULSORY V. VOLUNTARY RECRUITING.
The appeal made by the National Recruiting Committee to local bodies to assist in the recruiting campaign is not altogether relished by local body men, and there appear to be many reasons why local body men will not take up the work with any enthusiasm. The drain made upon farm labourers is in moat cases the cause for farmers serving on local bodies not being enthusiastic over the matter, as they find now that they have a. minimum of labour to work their farms, and where they employ eligible men whom tbey must retain to work their farms efficiently, tbey cannot conscientiously take part in a recruiting oampaign. Mr J. 0. 0. Gebbie, at the meeting of the Wairewa County Council on Tues day last, stated that he was in junt snob a position He t-airj in biß district alone there were thirty or forty ploughmen short of require ments, and the autumn ploughing was goißg to suffer in consequence. It is not only the farmer, however, who is feeling the labour shortage, but every trade and industry, and it is just a question whether the Government should not take some action and retain enough labour in the country to carry out the oountry'a work, so as not to impair its productiveness. Of course, this oould not be done under the voluntary system, though we understand that in certain trades in Christcburch the defence authorities have agreed to accept exemptione where firms have beoome very shorthanded owing to the heavy enlistment of their employees. If tbia is the case, then there is no reason why farm labour should be drained bo that the farming work of the country cannot possibly be carried oat. In fact, it is most important that the farmer should be an productive aa poasibla. I Mr Gebbie said that if his men en- ' listed he bad no other choice than to sow his cropping lande in grass and get on the beat way he oould. Tbia
shows that the farming community are bard bit as far as labour is concerned.
It is generally admitted that compulsion is abhorrent to everf free British subject; but still i§ gives the Government an oppor tunity to take that class of man who is best able to be spared and retain those who are absolutely essential. -Under Lord Derby's Scheme at Home, and the Compulsion Bill which followed, there have been many thousands of men granted exemption for this reason, that they were essential to carry on the country's work. Of course, if the time comes when our fighting forces must be greatly strengthened then big sacrifices must be made, and even essential labour mast go; but now that the shortage is being felt acutely it is very necesssary to take those men who can best be spared and retain those who oannot. The only way to retain these men, then, appears to be a form of compulsion, and if the National Government where to bring in suoh compulsion we are sure it would be generally welcomed by the farming and industrial oommumty of I the country.