HC Deb 16 December 1963 vol 686 cc830-1
14. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many acres of land are now in the charge of his Department; how many are retained for research; and how many he intends to transfer to the Forestry Commission.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

On 1st December, about126,000 acres were in my right hon. Friend's charge. Of this, 13,400 acres are being retained for experimental and research purposes and 17,200 acres are being retained for other departmental purposes. Fifty thousand acres are in the process of being sold. This leaves 45,000 acres, of which over 5,000 are earmarked for transfer now or later to the Forestry Commission. The remainder will be sold or transferred to the Forestry Commission as opportunity offers.

Mr. Digby

Is my hon. Friend aware that judging by the answer which his right hon. Friend gave last March, when there were 74,000 acres due to be sold, these sales are going rather slowly? Could they not be expedited?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

That is not quite true. In 1962–63, 13,600 acres were sold, and in the current year I expect that about 50,000 acres will be disposed of.

Mr. Snow

Is the Minister satisfied that the product of the Forestry Commission remains an economic proposition these days, bearing in mind the technological improvements in respect of mechanical props which are being made in the coal-mining industry?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Yes, I think so, especially in view of the fact that we are importing a large amount of timber at the moment.

Mr. Peart

Out of 126,000 acres, how much was held—both in Wales and in England—by the Land Commission, which the Government wound up?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I could not give an answer to that question without prior notice. If the hon. Member will put down a Question on the matter, I shall try to answer it.

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