§ As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Sir Joseph Nall (Manchester, Hulme)
I was not a Member of the Committee dealing with this Bill, but I would like to say on Third Reading that I think the Bill in its present form is rather lacking in omitting to direct what kind of individuals are to compose the Commission. I think it is somewhat unfortunate that there is not a clearer distinction in this Bill as to the qualifications of the future members. I think, in particular, acquaintance with the timber trade ought to have been specifically named as a qualification for appointment to this new Commission, and I hope my right hon. Friend will consider that when this matter comes up for consideration.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I wish to say how grateful Scottish Members are to see the Solicitor-General in his place, because this Bill applies to Scot- 301 land, and we are grateful also that the Under-Secretary of State is present. However, I must express the regret of the Scottish Members that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not even within ear shot of this first success of the new régime.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander Walkden (Bristol, South)
I am sure we are all glad that this valuable Bill has gone through Committee unscathed for I do not think it has been damaged at all in that dangerous process. I am sure the House will give it its Third Reading with great pleasure, as I support it very gladly. Although this Bill only occupies 14 pages of paper, it is in my view one of the greatest Measures this Parliament has carried. Its effects will be very long-term and will make a valuable accretion to the wealth of our country. The development of our forestry has obviously long been necessary. The depredations of two wars have made it imperative, and the new Measure ensures that the industry will become a great one, will employ a large number of people, and will add very greatly to the wealth of the country.
I venture to say that the provisions as to the appointment of the Commissioners will work out satisfactorily. Fears are generally groundless when things are done in the English way. The appointment of Commissioners has always been made carefully and, with the good advice of whatever Minister makes arrangements for them, I have every confidence that this will be sensibly carried out. The strengthening of the composition of the Commissioners is very commendable in my judgment. Indeed, this is a model Bill for public enterprise. Those who have to carry out its provisions will act under a Minister whose duty it will be to safeguard and defend and help them in their work when once this House, through the Ministry, has agreed upon forestry policy, and undoubtedly it will be based on the splendid reports which we have had in the past from the Commissioners, who have acted in a detached way. That will be the foundation for future policy and, in my judgment, that policy will be strengthened as time goes on. Indeed, undertakings were given on Second Reading that there would be a good progressive policy in forestry, and I feel confident that those undertakings will be carried out.
I thought the suggestion a good one that the House can lay down a line of 302 policy and the Commissioners, whose duty it will he to execute it, will be undisturbed in their work. Whether General Elections happen or do not happen, the Commissioners can go on as an executive body—they are advisory and they are consultative, but they are also executive. An example of how things would work was given in the Debate, namely, what had happened in regard to the Colonies, where the House had agreed upon a development policy involving an expenditure of about £120,000,000 spread over 10 years. I would like to see something like that done for forestry for then we should know that the work would go on for 10 years without let or hindrance regardless of political happenings in this country or elsewhere. We on this side of the House are very pleased with this Bill. We think it will enable the Commissioners to do their work still better in the future when the control of the operations will be with this House and not detached, as in the case of some statutory bodies.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir George Courthope (Rye)
While I still have the right to say a word in this House as a Forestry Commissioner I would like to thank my right hon. Friend for the consideration and assurance which he has given in respect of some of the misgivings which my colleagues on the Forestry Commission and I have expressed with regard to the Bill. By the time it left the Committee yesterday we were satisfied in all reasonable ways. I hope my right hon. Friend will always receive the same courteous consideration at Question Time that the House has shown me in forestry matters for a great many years.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
Before the Bill leaves this House I would like to express on behalf of the Government, and I am sure on behalf of all Members of the House, our appreciation of the work that has been done by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Rye (Sir G. Courthope) during the years that he has been associated with the Forestry Commission. I should like also to express to him my personal thanks in a very sincere way for the attitude he has adopted throughout. I know that in the early days of the discussions he did not approve of all 303 the proposals—which was very natural and very understandable—but I hope and think we have succeeded in allaying his apprehensions. I am most grateful to him for the very generous way in which he has met the various suggestions which I, and my right hon Friend the Member for West Stirling (Mr. T. Johnston), have made from time to time.
I would only say one word in answer to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nail). We discussed this question yesterday upstairs, and I explained, in answer to an Amendment suggesting that representatives of certain interests should be appointed to the Committee, that we thought, in order to get a really businesslike Commission to carry on this job properly, it was better not to have representatives of any one interest, because otherwise it would inevitably result in claims being put forward by other interests to be represented.
§ Sir J Nall
The Bill as it stands indicates that the Commission should be composed wholly of one interest—
§ Sir J. Nall
—namely, persons concerned in forestry. It would at least have been reasonable to have one Member who was concerned with consuming the products of forestry.
§ Mr. Hudson
We intend to try to get the best people, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walk-den) suggested, and the personnel of the future Commission, I feel sure, will satisfy my hon. Friend when he sees who are eventually appointed. I hope his fears will be as much allayed as those of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Rye. I am much obliged to the House for their kindness in passing the Bill through so quickly.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.