HC Deb 20 June 1972 vol 839 cc225-6
9. Mr. Sydney Chapman

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his Department will sponsor a research team to investigate the cause of the death of trees, with particular reference to contamination by lead and other poisonous materials.

Mr. Peter Mills

Contamination by lead and other poisonous materials is not a major factor in the mortality of trees and I do not think that additional research is necessary.

Mr. Chapman

While I appreciate that answer and while I am aware that the Forestry Commission obviously is undertaking research into the preservation of softwoods in plantations, may I point out to my hon. Friend that there is real need of a detailed survey and research into the causes of deaths of trees in areas where they are mostneeded—in other words, in our towns and cities—the more so as we approach the national tree planting year?

Mr. Mills

I realise my hon. Friend's interest in this subject, especially in Plant a Tree Year. However, there are only isolated cases of this problem. It does not seem to be widespread. Certainly I shall look into specific cases that my hon. Friend may have in mind. They will be investigated.

Mr. David Clark

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that his reply was very disappointing and complacent and that there are many poisonous substances in the atmosphere, notably sulphur dioxide, which have a terrible effect on trees in our cities? Will not the hon. Gentleman reconsider his original answer?

Mr. Mills

No. Research is being done by the Forestry Commission and by a number of universities. This is not a widespread problem. Again, however, if the hon. Gentleman has specific cases in mind, I shall investigate them.