HC Deb 11 May 1911 vol 25 cc1370-2

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, whether he is aware that, in or about the year 1851, Her late Majesty signified her intention to give directions for the extinction or removal of the deer within the New Forest and to consent to the extinguishment of the right of the Crown to stock and keep the forest stocked with deer; that, in consideration of such consent and undertaking, it was agreed that in lieu of such right the Crown should be empowered to enclose land in the New Forest to the extent of 10,000 acres in addition to the 6,000 acres then already enclosed; that these terms were subsequently embodied in an Act of Parliament, by which it was directed that within two years from the passing thereof the Commissioners of Woods and Forests should cause to be removed all the deer within the New Forest, and if he will say whether such direction was ever in fact carried out; whether he is aware that deer, both red and fallow, are now preserved in the New Forest, contrary to the provisions of such Act, for the purposes of hunting and shooting; whether a number of red deer were recently imported into the forest by the Master of the Deer Hounds; and, if so, whether this was done with the knowledge of the Deputy Surveyor; and if he will state the number of deer now within the forest, both red and fallow deer, respectively, according to the latest report of the deputy surveyor; whether any steps have been taken to verify the figures given in such report with regard to the numbers of deer within the forest; whether any account is kept of the number of such deer annually shot or killed in hunting; and whether he will undertake either to see that the law is obeyed according to the provisions of the Act of Parliament or introduce legislation to repeal it?

Mr. ILLINGWORTH (Lord of the Treasury)

I am aware of the provisions of the New Forest (Deer Removal) Act, 1851. An enquiry into the operation of that Act was made by a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and I refer the hon. Member to the Report, dated 9th July, 1868, of that Committee, where he will find it stated that the deer had accordingly been removed or destroyed. As regards the existence of deer in the Forest at the present day, it would be practically impossible to keep the Forest permanently free from deer, because the deer range over a vast area, much of which is in private ownership, and not controlled by the Crown, and they certainly move to and fro. It is, however, not the case that deer are preserved in the New Forest. On the contrary, they are killed down both by hunting and shooting. No red or other deer have been imported into the Forest with the Deputy Surveyor's knowledge. There are no means of estimating the number of deer in the Forest. Returns are kept of deer killed.


Will the advisers of the Crown consider the propriety of restoring to the forest the 10,000 acres that were enclosed, seeing that the consideration has failed, owing to the failure of the Crown to carry out its part of the contract?


I will convey that intimation to my right, hon. Friend.


Has any complaint been received from the inhabitants of the Forest as to the existence of the deer?


Not so far as I am aware.


Are not the 10,000 acres which have been enclosed available for afforestation?


I must ask for notice of that question.


Would it not destroy the amenities of the New Forest as a national playground to have these 10,000 acres enclosed?


Are licences issued every year for a pecuniary consideration for the hunting of the deer?


Not for hunting.

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