§ MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)
To ask the Prime Minister whether he will state what are the exact powers over the Crown woodlands exercised by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and the Board of Agriculture respectively; whether he would consider the advisability of establishing a Board of Forestry for Great Britain under the Board of Agriculture; whether he would also consider the advisability, in view of the need for new industries, of establishing a similar Board in Ireland; and what is the entire amount expended on experimental forestry areas at the present time.
§ (Answered by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.) The Crown woodlands are managed by the Commissioners of Woods, by whom clearing, thinning, and replanting are carried on as occasion requires. I may add for the information of my hon. friend that three large areas of woodlands have been placed under systematic sylvicultural treatment, the management of one of these having been placed in the hands of a forestry instructor to the Armstrong College of Science at Newcastle, so that practical demonstrations in forestry are available for students. As regards the second part of the Question, I may point out that by sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 2 of The Board of Agriculture 1261 Act, 1889, the Board of Agriculture is entrusted with the promotion of the interests of forestry. The Answer given by the Board in reply to a Question of my hon. friend the Member for Denbighshire West, on 20th June last,†contains information as to the steps taken by the Board of Agriculture in carrying out this important branch of their duties. In Ireland the Department of Agriculture exercises somewhat similar powers, and if my hon. friend will refer to the Answer of my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary, of 23rd November, to a Question of the hon. Member for Wexford South,‡he will find a brief account of the manner in which the Department are discharging their duties. I am afraid that it is impossible at short notice to state exactly what sum is devoted annually by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to experimental forestry areas, and I am informed that in some cases it would be difficult to say whether a given area may properly be regarded as "experimental" or not.