HC Deb 10 May 1948 vol 450 cc1731-2
48. Mr. Baldwin

asked the Minister of Agriculture under what circumstances the Forestry Commission has come to hold 56,500 acres of agricultural land; and what is his policy for the future management or disposal of such land.

Mr. T. Williams

When land is acquired for afforestation it is sometimes necessary to include parcels of agricultural land which cannot conveniently be divorced from the forest lands. Whenever possible, agricultural land that is not wanted for planting in the near future will be transferred to the Agricultural Departments for management. It is, however, convenient for a certain amount of agricultural land to be held by the Forestry Commission, particularly those areas which can be used to establish forest workers' holdings.

Mr. Baldwin

Does that reply mean that the Forestry Commission propose to farm this agricultural land, or will they hand it back to the owners?

Mr. Williams

I said in my reply that it will be transferred to the county committees for management.

Mr. Hollis

Does the Minister mean that the total of 56,000 acres will be substantially reduced in the near future?

Mr. Williams

No. Surely, the hon. Member can only assume from my reply that, when the Forestry Commission purchase an area of land for afforestation, invariably some proportion of it is not suited for afforestation but is suited for continued agricultural use.