HC Deb 09 December 1964 vol 703 cc1544-5
30. Mr. George Y. Mackie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the employment position in the Helmsdale district of Sutherland; and whether he will assist the Forestry Commission to obtain planting land in the Strath of Kildonan and elsewhere in order to double its planting programme.

Mr. Willis

My right hon. Friend is aware that there is unemployment in the Helmsdale area, and he hopes that the Forestry Commission may be able to help. It wants to acquire more land there, and has recently begun a survey of the Strath of Kildonan to assess its forestry potential. It is also in touch with a number of landowners in the district.

Mr. Mackie

Is the Secretary of State for Scotland prepared to use the compulsory powers for acquiring land that I understand he has if he wishes to use them?

Mr. Willis

I think that we had first better wait for the result of the inquiry, and also for the approach to the land-owners. Up to the present, most landowners have been quite co-operative.

Sir J. Gilmour

Can the Minister give an assurance that no agricultural land in the Helmsdale area will be planted with trees?

Mr. Willis

It depends on what the hon. Gentleman means by "agricultural land".

Mr. Noble

Does not the Minister think it a little odd that the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. George Y. Mackie) should be trying to stop employment in the planting of trees in other constituencies, and gaining it in his own?

Mr. Willis

I think that both supplementary questions were quite reasonable.