HC Deb 18 January 1972 vol 829 cc205-6
24. Mr. David James

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will take further steps to reduce the grubbing up of hedgerows; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Prior

I believe that farmers and landowners have shown increasing moderation and good sense in this matter. I welcome, and shall continue to encourage, a responsible attitude on the part of those concerned.

Mr. James

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Would he not agree that the face of England is being changed—by no means always for the better? Would it not be possible for his Department to take a slightly more active part in this process?

Mr. Prior

I would answer "yes" to both parts of my hon. Friend's question.

Mr. Mackie

Would the Minister not agree that there is nothing worse than a misshapen field, with crooked hedges, in terms of cultivation, harvesting and everything else, and that if the British public want crooked hedges they should pay for them?

Mr. Prior

There is a middle between ends, and we think that the balance is slightly wrong at present.

Mr. Marten

Has any study been made of the effect of the grubbing up of hedges on the bird population and their nesting and mating habits?

Mr. Prior

Not by my Department; but I have seen some disturbing figures on this subject and I feel that we should take this point into consideration.