HC Deb 02 August 1899 vol 75 cc1205-7

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [31st July], "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the Eighth Resolution, 'That a sum, not exceeding £14,400, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the salaries and expenses of the office of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments.'"

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

* SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester-Forest of Dean)

asked whether it was the intention of the Woods and Forests Department to purchase property called Abbot's Wood, in the centre of Dean Forest.


The proposed purchase of Abbot's Wood has not been abandoned; there has been some delay in consequence of certain legal difficulties.


I have given private notice of my intention to raise the question of the desirability of reafforesting the waste lands of the country, or at all events, those which are under the jurisdiction of the Crown. The Woods and Forests Department have rights extending over 364,000 acres of land in Wales, some of which is exceedingly suitable for reafforesting. Hitherto the Government, when asked to carry out that process, have said that these tracts of land are subject to certain common rights which cannot be extinguished without legislation. I admit the difficulty in that direction, but I would suggest the purchase of those common rights, which could be obtained for a very small sum. In fact, it would be a great advantage to many of the commoners on the Welsh lands to have suitable plantation of trees made. Private landowners have carried on the operation with great advantage to themselves. Why should not the Crown show a good example in this respect, and at the same time make a satisfactory investment of public money? There are 26,000,000 acres of waste land in this country. If only 6,000,000 acres were planted, we should be able to dispense with all the timber we import from abroad, so it is evident that money expended on this purpose would yield a satisfactory return.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

drew attention to the practical shutting up of Lord Antrim's quarries, which employed 4,000 men, through the action of the Woods and Forests Department, and also to the proceedings in which Colonel Vandeleur was concerned at Kilrush.


I may explain that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests agree to a large extent with the hon. Member as to reafforesting some of the mountains in Wales. Practically over the whole of the unenclosed Crown lands in Wales there are common rights existing, and it is not possible to enclose any portion without disturbing those rights, while the difficulty of getting every individual commoner to agree is almost insuperable. Unless there is absolute unanimity these lands cannot be enclosed; one commoner by holding out can prevent it. But the Commissioners are fully alive to the importance of doing all they can in the matter of afforestment, and quite recently they purchased a farm of 400 acres, one-third of which is to be planted. They have also purchased and enclosed other freehold properties. I am sorry the cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Louth have not been under my notice, but if he will give me further information I will look into them.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution agreed to.