HC Deb 04 April 1944 vol 398 cc1801-2
43. Mr. Turton

asked the right hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, whether he will instruct the district officers to refrain from inspecting plantations in bracken-infested areas during the time the bracken is at full growth, and to make their inspection in the late autumn and winter when the condition of such plantations can be viewed with greater accuracy.

Colonel Sir George Courthope (Forestry Commissioner)

Owing to shortage of technical staff it is necessary to correlate inspections of grant-aided schemes with other work which is at a maximum in the late autumn and winter. From the technical point of view there is no reason why inspection should not be made during the growing season. It is regretted, therefore, that the hon. Member's proposal cannot be adopted but, as hitherto, the convenience of woodland owners will be considered as far as possible in arranging inspections.

44. Mr. Turton

asked the right hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, the policy of the Forestry Commission to recipients of forestry grants who, through shortage of labour due to war conditions, have been unable to continue proper weeding and maintenance of plantations; and whether the Forestry Commission will postpone the question of final approval of such schemes for grant until six months after the conclusion of hostilities.

Sir G. Courthope

It is the policy of the Commission, in interpreting the agreement under which grants are made for plantations, to take sympathetic account of the labour difficulties of woodland owners. Circumstances and conditions vary greatly from place to place and the Commission prefer not to lay down a hard and fast rule. They are prepared, however, to give special consideration to cases of implied hardship.

Mr. Turton

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that in some cases where there is a shortage of agricultural labour which is delaying the weeding of plantations, the Forestry Commission are demanding the return of all grants made previously, and is this encouraging for the future of forestry? Will he consider the attitude of the Forestry Commission?

Sir G. Courthope

I cannot accept the statement of my hon. Friend. There have been, I believe, one or two cases, which I regret, but, generally speaking, full and sympathetic consideration is given to the owners.