HC Deb 07 November 1960 vol 629 cc636-7
22. Mr. Speir

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements were made for Lord Radnor, the chairman of the Forestry Commission, to have discussions with members of local councils and representatives of other local bodies regarding the provision of better amenities and additional welfare services, when he paid his recent visit to the new Forestry Commission villages in Northumberland.

Mr. Soames

The purpose of Lord Radnor's visit was to see for himself the conditions in these villages. It was not thought necessary to hold a formal meeting.

Mr. Speir

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the visit paid by Lord Radnor was of a very casual and limited character? Does he realise that the result is that, instead of allaying anxiety, the reverse happened? I appreciate the difficulty the Minister has in intervening in a matter of this kind, but, as the Forestry Commission is a State organisation and the Minister is responsible, may I ask him whether he will discuss the matter further with Lord Radnor to see whether the conditions in these villages are satisfactory?

Mr. Soames

I am sorry that my hon. Friend should feel that the visit has not done good. In an Adjournment debate just before the House rose in July, my hon. Friend suggested that a senior official of the Forestry Commission should pay a visit. The chairman himself went, and he will discuss his visit with me later.

Mr. Willey

The Minister will remember that I supported the hon. Gentleman when he raised this subject on the Adjournment. The hon. Gentleman seems to have been treated in a very cavalier fashion. This matter is disturbing forestry workers in this locality. It seems clear that they have a legitimate grievance. Therefore, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will respond to the hon. Gentleman's invitation to discuss this with the chairman and see whether further discussions can be held.

Mr. Soames

I differ from the hon. Gentleman in his view that this was dealt with in a cavalier fashion. The visit was made by the chairman himself, and he is coming to talk to me about it. The visit has already been arranged.