HC Deb 15 February 1973 vol 850 cc1436-7
15. Mr. David Clark

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he now intends to publish his White Paper on Forestry.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

Consultations are still in progress, and it is too early to say when there will be an announcement or the form which it will take.

Mr. Clark

Will the Minister try to speed up this series of consultations, because the lack of clarity about the future is causing a great deal of concern in upland areas?

Mr. Stodart

First, I take this opportunity of congratulating the hon. Gentleman on his appointment to the Opposition Front Bench.

I am very anxious to come to a decision on this matter, as are my right hon. Friends. However, although the consultations are taking some time, forestry is an extremely long-term business and it is important that we should get things right.

Mr. Marten

Does my hon. Friend agree that trees should be planted in really worthwhile soil and not just anywhere, as some people want to do, merely to raise the labour force in an area? That is an absolute waste.

Mr. Stodart

I could not agree more. I am a strong advocate of good land use—the right land being used for trees, the right land being used for farming, and benefit to each.

Mr. Lawson

Before making up his mind on the future of forestry, will the Minister study what the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs has said on this very subject?

Mr. Stodart

The hon. Gentleman will wish to know that I made a point of getting a copy on the evening that the report was published.