HC Deb 19 November 1962 vol 667 cc800-1
13 and 14. Mr. Gibson-Watt

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will give the composition of the Working Party of officials set up to advise him on the future of the forestry industry;

(2) when the Committee looking into the forestry industry will report; and whether its terms of reference will allow all sides of the forestry industry to give evidence to it.

Mr. Soames

The Working Party, whose appointment I announced in the House on 1st August, includes representatives of all Departments who have an interest in all the different aspects of the subject, and I hope to receive its report during the spring of next year. It has asked a wide range of organisations connected with all aspects of forestry for written evidence and has already received several memoranda.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his somewhat noncommittal Answer. I had hoped that he would be able to tell us why it was that representatives on this Committee had not been taken from all parts of the forestry industry. What he has told us is that they have been taken from all Departments, and that is why I say that his Answer is non-committal. Can my right hon. Friend assure us that in taking evidence this Committee will take it from all parts of the forestry industry itself, both producers and merchants, by which I mean the trade?

Mr. Soames

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his supplementary question. This Committee was set up as a direct result of what was announced by my predecessor in July, 1958. When my predecessor made that statement about forestry policy he said that the Government intended, within five years, to review, in the light of national needs, the Forestry Commission's planting programme for the years after 1968, and also the structure of grants to private woodland owners. This is what the Committee is doing.

In answer to the second part of my hon Friend's supplementary question, the Committee has already sought evidence from about 30 organisations, representing, I think, all interests concerned with forestry, both public and private, but if my hon Friend knows of any body of people who are interested in this and from whom evidence has not been sought, perhaps he will let me know and the Committee will be prepared to consider it.

Mr. Willis

Is the Committee dealing with forestry in Scotland?

Mr. Soames

Yes, Sir. It covers Scotland as well.