HC Deb 24 January 1973 vol 849 cc454-5
19. Mr. David Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will consider a programme of financial assistance to aid in the clearing and replanting of land containing dead or diseased elm trees.

Mr. Graham Page

No, Sir. But assistance towards replanting costs including reasonable expenditure on necessary land clearance associated with the scheme, is obtainable in certain circumstances. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the Department's circular which summarises the forms of Exchequer assistance available.

Mr. Mitchell

However that may be. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for what he has said. Is he aware of the widespread concern at the growing scars on the countryside? Will he accept that his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has a responsibility in his role as a protector of the environment?

Mr. Page

Indeed, I recognise only too well the damage done in the county of Hampshire in which my hon. Friend's constituency is situated. The figures are rather dramatic. One tree in every 10 acres in the county is being lost per year through the Dutch elm disease. I am sure my hon. Friend will look at the appendix to the circular in which eight different ways are set out for getting Exchequer assistance for the replanting of trees, and I am sure that with a little ingenuity his local authorities will be able to clear these eyesores.