HC Deb 19 June 1991 vol 193 cc279-80
4. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his discussions with Mr. Kit Martin about the future of Mar Lodge; and what proposals he now has to restrict deer on the Mar Lodge estate in keeping with the age structure of the ancient Caledonian forest.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

My right hon. Friend has had no such discussions. Mr. Martin has, however, had some discussions with officials of Historic Scotland about the future of the lodge house itself.

The Cairngorms working party is currently considering deer management and the future of the native woodlands in the area and we shall give careful consideration to its recommendations.

Mr. Dalyell

Either in answer to my Adjournment debate tonight or now, will the Ministers say whether they broadly accept the analogy that, in human terms, these trees are 80 to 90 years old and that this is the last chance to save a major part of what remains of the ancient European forest? How can we tell people in Brazil, Sarawak or Zaire that they should look after their rain forests when we do not seem able to look after our own living treasure?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Yes, the old Caledonian forest, which I have seen myself, is significant in the area. It is sad that the proposals of the Crown Estate Commissioners fell through, as the hon. Member knows. We remain prepared to consider any proposals put to us and we shall take a keen interest in them. Resources are available to fund management agreements, and I intend to go into that more thoroughly in answer to the hon. Gentleman's debate tonight.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Since Mr. Kit Martin has been mentioned, and as he is a member of the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland, and as he has restored houses in Scotland and England without introducing golf courses and all the other rubbish usually associated with such activities, will my hon. Friend note that the heritage of Scotland is greatly safeguarded by the investment of such people and greatly threatened by the lack of funds for the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

We have increased resources for the Historic Buildings Council for Scot land —now Historic Scotland. Mr. Kit Martin's abilities are well known and he is eligible to apply for grant if he chooses to. He has never done so thus far in any of his successful ventures. The rebuilding of the lodge is a matter for his judgment.