HC Deb 25 November 1914 vol 68 cc1129-30
27. Mr. MOUNT

asked the hon. Member for Dumfries, as representing the First Commissioner of Works, whether he is aware that, in inviting tenders for book-cases for the offices of the Board of Agriculture, the specifications required the use of Austrian oak; and whether he will see that the specifications are so altered as to allow the use of English oak in the office to which is entrusted the duty of looking after English forestry?

Mr. GULLAND (Lord of the Treasury)

Austrian oak was no part of the original specification, although, through a misunderstanding, it was made imperative instead of permissive in a subsequent circular. The First Commissioner, after most careful inquiry, is advised by experts, whom he has consulted, that Austrian oak is most suitable for furniture, and as there were huge stocks of that timber in this country, bought and paid for long before the declaration of War, he feels that it would be manifestly unjust to penalise British merchants by boycotting their stock of this timber.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the English Forestry Association have been in communication with architects with reference to the use of English oak for this purpose?


I was not aware of that, but I will convey that opinion to my right hon. Friend.


Is not the objection to the use of English oak for this purpose that it must lie and mature for eight or ten years. How is it possible to get oak of that mature seasoning and quality at a short notice?


I believe that is so, and that is one of the grounds of the decision of my right hon. Friend.