HC Deb 09 December 1964 vol 703 cc1537-8
22. Mr. Noble

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he has given to the setting up of a small department within the Scottish Office to deal with forestry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Willis

The organisation of the Forestry Commission and the arrangements made by the Forestry Ministers for the discharge of their responsibilities are at present being reconsidered in the light of the Report on the Commission last Session by the Estimates Committee.

Mr. Noble

Now that forestry interests are to go to a separate Ministry in England and as I am sure that the Minister of State believes that forestry is of the very greatest importance to Scotland, does he not think that there is a case for a small addition to the Scottish Office staff to deal particularly with forestry so that the Forestry Commission, landowners, farmers and others may have an independent body they can go to advising his right hon. Friend?

Mr. Willis

Private woodland owners made certain complaints to the Estimates Committee about the present set-up, but they did not make this suggestion. With the establishment of a new Ministry this is clearly one of the questions which must be examined.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Will my hon. Friend consider at least the last Report of the Forestry Commission, whose main complaint with regard to the future planning of forestry was that the Commission was not getting the co-operation of landlords in the acquisition of land? Will he try to strengthen his Department in that respect to ensure that the Commission is able to plan forward for several years?

Mr. Willis

I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall certainly ensure that the Commission gets the land it wants.

Mr. Hendry

What steps are being taken under the new organisation to ensure that there is no misuse of public money by the giving of grants for forestry when grants have already been given for the use of land for agriculture in the past? Is there liaison between the forestry Ministry and the Department of Agriculture?

Mr. Willis

The hon. Gentleman ought to wait until the appropriate Question is reached.