HC Deb 01 August 1962 vol 664 cc582-3
37. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is now the total area of land held by the Forestry Commission in Scotland; how much of this is classified as agricultural and grazing land not to be planted; how much is unplantable and miscellaneous; and how much land has been sold since 30th September, 1961.

Mr. Noble

At 30th June this year, the Forestry Commission held 1,475,000 acres in Scotland; 413,000 acres of this area were agricultural and grazing land; and 264,000 acres were unplantable and miscellaneous. Between 30th September, 1961, and 30th June, 1962, 5,000 acres were sold, and at the latter date the sales of a further 26,000 acres were being negotiated.

Mr. Brewis

I am glad that the Commission is this year selling some of its land, but will not my right hon. Friend agree that, if the Forestry Commission's main job is to plant trees, it should sell as much as it can of the land which it does not intend to plant in order to acquire land which it does intend to plant?

Mr. Noble

I agree with my hon. Friend, but I am sure that he appreciates that a great deal of this land is on the extreme tops of hills, being land which can neither be planted nor easily used.

Mr. Hoy

Is not one thing which is restricting the Forestry Commission from expanding its work the lack of suitable land for planting? What steps is the Secretary of State taking to make it possible for the Commission to get land on which it can extend its work?

Mr. Noble

I think that the use of our hill and marginal land for forestry and agriculture is of extreme importance, and I am looking into this matter very carefully to see how the balance can best be improved.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

As the reserve of planting land is a very important part of long-term forestry plans, would it be possible to consider the acquisition of planting land as part of the five-yearly review of long-term policy for forestry which, I think, is about due now?

Mr. Noble

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, in answer to another Question today, will be announcing the appointment of a working party of officials to carry out this stage of the review of forestry policy in Great Britain foreshadowed by his predecessor four years ago in the statement he then made on the subject.