47. Mr. Watkins
asked the Minister of Agriculture what representations have been made to him against the proposals of the Forestry Commission in the Upper Towy district to acquire 20,000 acres of land; and what reply he has made.
Mr. T. Williams
I have received representations from the National Farmers' Union, the Congregational Churches of the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke and the Cemaes Rural District Council about the proposals to acquire land for afforestation in the Towy Valley. This scheme was most carefully investigated before it was announced, and I am quite satisfied that it serves the broad national interest. I have therefore felt unable to depart from the scheme, and have caused appropriate replies to be sent to the bodies that made representations.
In view of the widespread feeling in the localities, and in Wales in general, will the Minister consider the advisability of receiving a deputation, led by the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris), the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) and myself to consider this matter further on a comprehensive basis?
I can assure my hon. Friend that this has been considered on a very comprehensive basis, for the purpose of providing pit props, especially for the South Wales coal mines, for bringing spending power into Wales, and as the only possible means of rehabilitating many areas in Wales.
Mr. Hopkin Morris
Is the Minister aware that every farmer holding land in this area has resisted the application for compulsory purchase? In view of the fact that the proposals as they stand are causing concern to everybody in the district will he receive a deputation from the local authorities?
I am always ready to receive a deputation if there is any likelihood of it persuading me that my decision is wrong. As the hon. Member knows, this particular area is very thinly populated. The population is decreasing, and unless someone outside Wales takes a decision to help Wales Wales will not help herself.
Will the Minister consider placing a map in the Library, showing the boundaries of the scheme and what areas it is intended to plant, so that hon. Members can see how great is the disturbance to agriculture in that area?