HL Deb 28 July 1919 vol 35 cc1083-96

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Crawford.)

On Question, Bill read 3a.

Clause 1:

Establishment of Forestry Commission.

1.—(1) For the purposes of this Act it shall be lawful for His Majesty by warrant under the sign manual to appoint seven commissioners, to be styled the Forestry Commissioners, of whom one to be appointed by His Majesty, shall be chairman.

LORD STRACHIE moved, in subsection (1), after "one," to insert "shall be nominated by the Royal Society and one." The noble Lord said: I move this Amend

instance, with two Councils. They can always come back for others.

On Question, whether the proposed words shall be added to the Motion—

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 23; Not-Contents, 31.

Argyll, D. Haldane, V. Forester, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Gainford, L.
Denbigh, E. Buckmaster, L. Ludlow, L.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Denman, L. O'Hagan, L.
Mayo, E. Desborough, L. Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)
Onslow, E. Downham, L. [Teller.] Strachie, L.
Stanhope, E. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Stuart of Wortley, L.
Sydenham, L. [Teller.]
Chaplin, V. Erskine, L.
Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.) Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.) Islington, L.
Milner, V. Lovat, L.
Bath, M. Annesley, L. Parmoor, L.
Dufferin and Ava, M. Ashbourne, L. Ranksborough, L.
Balfour, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Bradford, E. Clinton, L. Rotherham, L.
Chesterfield, E. Colebrooke, L. Shandon, L.
Jersey, E. Dynevor, L. Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]
Kimberley, E. Emmott, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Mar and Kellie, E. Hylton, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Strafford, E. Inverforth, L. Wittenham, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

ment at the request of my noble friend Lord Bledisloe, who is detained in Gloucester-shire on county business. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that one of the Commissioners shall be nominated by the Royal Society. On a previous occasion when my noble friend moved an Amendment of a similar nature, though not so specific in terms, the noble Earl said that he had great sympathy with the views expressed. This Amendment simply confines it to the point that one of the Commissioners is to be nominated by the Royal Society, who will, of course, take care that a fit and proper person is appointed. The noble Earl also said that he hoped on the Third Reading of the Bill to be able to give the names of the Commissioners. I am sorry that he did not do so in moving the Third Reading.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 8, after ("one") insert ("shall be nominated by the Royal Society and one"—(Lord Strachie.)


I am sorry I am not in a position, as I had hoped to be, to make an announcement with regard to the general Forestry Commission. On this particular Amendment I confess the noble Lord has not made out a very strong case. I do not think the Royal Society is much concerned or much interested in sylviculture. I cannot recollect any papers read before that Societ dealing with afforestation. Their activities are generally in other directions. I hope, therefore, that the Amendment will not be pressed. It is not convenient to state that one particular society out of many should nominate Commissioners; and if any society were to be chosen I should have thought that one of the arboricultural societies, which devote their whole time and activities to afforestation, should exercise the nomination. Personally, however, I should prefer that no one was nominated by societies.


I do not know whether my noble friend desires to press his Amendment, but. I merely venture to point out to the noble Earl opposite that although he says the activities of the Royal Society are not specially devoted to arboriculture, yet there is a large field of science connected with the uses of timber with which the Royal Society might be held to be specially connected. I say nothing of the particular objection taken by the noble Earl to the naming of some one society for this particular purpose. But it has been, I think, a complaint against the Bill as a whole, that the purely scientific side, as, distinct from the cultivation of trees, does not appear in the terms of the Bill to have received quite sufficient consideration, and from that point of view I can see that the Amendment would be a useful one.


The British Science Guild, of which I have the honour to be President, have considered this matter and have urged that the Royal Society should be asked to nominate and select one member. With regard to what the noble Marquess said, I think we all feel that the Royal Society is the premier of all the scientific societies in England, and also that forestry must touch science at a great many different points, and among them points with which the Royal Society is particularly concerned. I hope, therefore, that the Government will make this small concession.


I should like to add this comment. The feeling that has arisen, and which has prompted this Amendment, is one which I am sure will grow very much hereafter, when it is realised how Lilliputian an effort this is to deal with a colossal problem—Lilliputian in everything except expenditure. The Bill, in order to be made effective, would have had to be framed on much wider lines and in a much wider spirit, so far as science and education are concerned, and I do not think this Amendment if carried would make any very material difference to what is there now. Therefore, although I sympathise with what, is said about having nominal recognition of a great scientific body as a nominating party to the Bill, I cannot say that I feel any great enthusiasm for the Amendment, and I have sympathy with the desire of the Government not to have the framework of the Bill interfered with. It is from inside that you get spiritual grace, and not from outside. Therefore I cannot look upon this Amendment with any great enthusiasm.


Before the Amendment is put, may I say a word upon a minor point which I wish to submit for consideration. If the Amendment as it now reads were inserted, the clause would run: "of whom one shall be nominated by the Royal Society and one, to be appointed by His Majesty, shall be chairman." I fancy that if inserted at all, the Commissioner to be appointed by His Majesty should precede the one to be nominated by the Royal Society. I think the noble Lord, if he intends to press his Amendment, would like it to be altered in that way.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 2:

Proceedings, staff, and seal of Commissioners.

2.—(1) The Commissioners may act by three of their number and notwithstanding a vacancy in their number, and may regulate their own procedure.

(2) The Commissioners may, subject to the approval of the Treasury as to number, appoint and employ such officers and servants for the purposes of this Act as they think necessary, and may remove any officer or servant so appointed or employed, and there shall be paid to such officers and servants such salary or remuneration as the Commissioners may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine.

LORD STRACHIE, on behalf of Lord BLEDISLOE, moved in subsection (2), after "number," to insert "and after selection by a Selection Board." The noble Lord said: Clause 2 gives power to the Commissioners, subject to the approval of the Treasury, to appoint a certain number of officers and servants, and the Amendment is to secure that these appointments should be made after selection by a Selection Board. I understand that all appointments falling under the Forestry Authority in the case of India are made by a Selection Board. Therefore I have a precedent for this, and I ask the Government if they would not consider that what is good in the case of India is good also in the case of England.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 5, after ("number") insert ("and after selection by a Selection Board").—(Lord Strachie.)


If your Lordships desire to put in this Amendment I shall not press my opposition to it, but I confess I am not at all convinced of the necessity of this Selection Board. In the first place, of course, the Selection Board is not the Civil Service Commissioners, who know nothing about these matters, whose advice would be useless, and who in fact would not undertake the duties. The Selection Board would have to be nominated by the Forest Commissioners—by themselves, in other words. Is it necessary that the Forest Commission, under Statute, should be obliged to nominate a Forestry Selection Board before whom all appointments have to go? Under the Amendment suggested by the noble Lord nobody could be appointed under the Forestry Authority without the consent of this Board. Every vermin killer, every man working on ditches or fences, would have to go before this Selection Board. Is that necessary or desirable? Are you not by statute, by needless purism, placing upon this Selection Board duties which it is not fitted to perform? The forester or vermin-killer, or the man draining or digging, should be chosen by the local district officer, and if he does not appoint the right men he should be dismissed. Thus you concentrate authority, and that is the way you get proper servants. To say that they should be selected by a Selection Board sitting in London or Edinburgh or Dublin is asking too much, and I hope that the Amendment will not be pressed.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 3:

(3) The Commissioners shall have power to do any of the following things:—

  1. (a) Purchase or take on lease and hold any land suitable for afforestation or required for purposes in connection with afforestation or with the management of any woods or forests, and manage, plant, and otherwise utilise any land acquired, and erect such buildings or execute such other words thereon as they think necessary:
  2. (b) Sell or let any land which in their opinon is not needed or has proved unsuitable for the purpose for which it was acquired, or exchange any such land for other land more suitable for that purpose, and pay or receive money for equality of exchange:
  3. (c) Purchase or otherwise acquire standing timber, and sell or otherwise dispose of any timber belonging to them, or, subject to such terms as may be mutually agreed, to a private owner, and generally promote the supply, sale, utilisation, and conversion of timber:
  4. (d) Make advances by way of grant or by way of loan, or partly in one way and partly in the other, and upon such terms and subject to such conditions as they think fit, to persons (including local authorities) in respect of the afforestation (including the replanting) of land belonging to those persons:
  5. (e) Undertake the management or supervision, upon such terms and subject to such conditions as may be agreed upon, or give assistance or advice in relation to the planting or management of any woods or forests belonging to any persons, including woods and forests under the management of the Commissioners of Woods or under the control of any Government Department, or belonging to any local authority:
  6. (f) Establish and carry on or aid in the establishment and carrying on of woodland industries:
  7. (g) Undertake the collection and preparation of statistics relating to forestry, and promote and develop instruction and training in forestry by establishing or aiding schools or other educational institutions or in such other manner as they think fit:
  8. (h) Make or aid in making such inquiries, experiments, and research, and collect or aid in collecting such information, as they may think important for the purpose of promoting forestry and the teaching of forestry, and publish or otherwise take steps to make known the results of such inquiries, experiments or research and to disseminate such information:
  9. (i) Make or aid in making such inquiries as they think necessary for the purpose 1089 of securing an adequate supply of timber in the United Kingdom and promoting the product-ion of timber in His Majesty's dominions:

Provided that any advance by way of a grant under this section shall be subject to the condition that so touch of any profit as represents the monetary equivalent of the grant shall be paid to the Commissioners and restored to the Forestry Fund.

THE EARL OF CRAWFORD moved, in the proviso at the end of subsection (3), to leave out all words alter "Provided that," and insert "any profits resulting from the operations in respect of which the grant was made shall, after allowing for a return to the owner of 4 per cent. compound interest on the cost incurred by him (exclusive of the amount of the grant), be charged with the repayment to the forestry fund of the amount of the grant together with compound interest at 4 per cent. Any question arising between the Commissioners and the owner with respect to the amount of any repayment under this proviso shall, in default of agreement, be decided by a person nominated by the President of the Surveyors' Institution, and for the purposes of this proviso the expression 'owner' means the person for the time being entitled to the profits on the operations in respect of which the grant was made."

The noble Earl said: Many of your Lordships will probably remember a rather long discussion which we had, both in Committee and on Report, about the subsection dealing with advances to landowners who plant trees in conjunction with the Forest Authority. This Amendment has been considered with very great care, and especially in connection with two proposals made respectively by Lord Lovat and Lord Bledisloe. I hope that it combines the good points in both proposals. It adopts the principle laid down by Lord Lovat, that the owner should be entitled to a return of 4 per cent. upon his outlay before any question of the repayment of the grant arises. It equally accepts the principle laid down by Lord Bledisloe, that after this 4 per cent. return has been given the first charge upon further proceeds should be the repayment of the advance, also at 4 per cent., to the State. Of course, if there are any further proceeds they would accrue to the planter of the woods.

Finally the Amendment meets a point raised by Lord Phillimore, by defining who will be the owner responsible for repayment to the State of the 4 per cent. if there be any repayment. I am glad to say that the noble and learned Lord, though he cannot be present to-day, has examined this Amendment and professes himself satisfied with it. The last point that has been inserted in this very eclectic Amendment was raised either by Lord Bledisloe or by Lord Lovat—I forget which Peer it Was—and it provides an appeal clause which I think will prove a useful safeguard. It entitles the President of the Surveyors Institution to nominate an arbitrator in the event of dispute arising. So much for the history of the Amendment.

As regards its actual proposals and its working, everybody desires, I imagine, that complicated accounts should as far as possible be avoided, both in regard to the expenses involved in raising the crop and as to estimating its ultimate yield. Again, we probably all agree that the last thing to be desired is frequent inspection by the Forestry Commissioners to sec whether proper accounts are being kept, or to ensure that not more than a due proportion of the crop is being drawn out as thinnings. I think those two points are met. Some of your Lordships may remember that in the Report of the Forestry sub-Committee it was suggested that the acceptance of a grant would involve adherence to a working plan for say thirty years, so that the Forestry Commission might be satisfied that their percentage of the outlay was being properly safeguarded and used for its real purpose—namely, the bona fide increase of the timber supply. But after that point is met, the smaller the interference with the landowner who has planted the woods the better.

I have taken the opportunity of discussing this very technical and complicated matter with various members of the interim Forest authority, and I am satisfied that at any rate in a great number of cases it ought to be possible to work out at the beginning of the agreement the circumstances under which a return of grants to the Treasury Fund will ultimately arise, so that exact supervision will not be required in any degree after, we will say, the first thirty years have elapsed. It ought to be, and I believe will be, possible to agree upon the initial cost to time owner of establishing the crop It ought to be possible likewise to agree upon the annual value of his contribution to the management, to the value of land, and of course to the value of thinnings which may accrue. If then an esti- mate of the final crop in terms of cubic feet per acre can be agreed upon, it will be possible, by accumulating the owners' contributions according to the 4 per cent. compound interest tables, to say at what price per cubic foot be will have received his 4 per cent return. I know it sounds complicated, and it is certainly very difficult to explain in ordinary language, but those who have gone into this matter with care are convinced that it is quite possible on these lines to come to a general agreement which will be satisfactory, and, above all, which will not be too complicated or involve frequent and vexatious inspections.

I have heard it argued, indeed, that owners may be willing to undertake this actually in their own interests, because it will give them an exact idea of their results in any planting operations that they may undertake. I feel bound to acknowledge that any sort of contingent liability upon the owner may act as a deterrent to accepting State grants. That I am afraid must be conceded, but the Government attaches importance to the principle that where the giving of a grant does involve a profit the grant should in effect be returned. I hope the House will be willing to accept the proviso in the form now proposed as the best means of ensuring this principle, and at the same time as the most suitable method that we can devise of encouraging private owners of land to put suitable ground under timber.

Amendment moved.— Page 4, line 28, leave out from ("that") to the end of line 31, and insert the said new proviso.—(The Earl of Crawford.)


I think that any of your Lordships who have gone into this question will be much obliged to my noble friend for the trouble he has taken over the matter, and will agree that the Amendment makes it quite clear what the decision is. Your Lordships will also recognise that it is reasonable, if the owner makes a large profit, that the State should be entitled to a return of the sum it has advanced.

As my noble friend said, there are many owners who may not like any restriction at all, but it is essential that accounts must be kept in dealing with a matter of this kind, and I think the way proposed is the simplest and most practicable that could be found. The great advantage of this altera- tion will be this. It is quite obvious that the Commissioners, at any rate at first, will have to confine their operations to limited areas, probably only to certain districts of the country. It is most desirable that experiments should be made all over the country, and by this Amendment I think it is very likely that you will get proprietors in different parts of the country to try experiments which probably will not pay but which nevertheless they would like to undertake if they had not to incur the whole cost. Not only does the alteration meet the criticisms which were made, but it is one which will be of great benefit to the country.


I am very glad that the noble Duke has expressed the recognition which I think the whole of the House must feel, both to the noble Earl and to those who have advised him, for the evident pains which have been taken to satisfy the objections that were raised to this proposition in its earlier form. It is no doubt an exceedingly intricate and difficult matter, and when one considers how far ahead the real profit may be earned—possibly a generation or two generations ahead—it is clearly a complicated and difficult matter to decide precisely the degree of profit that has been earned over so long a term of years.

But I quite agree with the noble Duke that it is worth trying for several reasons. In the first place, it clearly would have been a thoroughly invidious thing were it generally believed that landowners were receiving a free grant for replanting old land or planting fresh land. It would have made a most obvious text for an attack on such landowners. In the second place I quite agree with the noble Duke that, although the amount of the grant may not in many cases be large,—not, indeed, going at all far towards the total extent of planting or replanting in many cases—yet in the less hopeful areas it will, I can well believe, encourage people to plant who might otherwise not have cared to go to the trouble of risking a considerable sum of money for a quite uncertain return.

The estimation of the profits cannot be an easy thing. It will not be easy for everybody to debit the particular area of planting with the necessary share of wages and upkeep, or to credit his estate account in all cases with every set of rails that is cut out of a covert in the process of occasional thinning. But it will no doubt be an inducement to people to keep closer and more accurate accounts with regard to their woods than many, at any rate, have been in the habit of keeping, and I hope therefore that your Lordships will accept the Amendment in the form in which it has been, with great pains, prepared by the noble Earl.


I should like to thank the noble Duke and the Leader of the Opposition for their very friendly remarks. The Forest Authority have given an immense amount of pains to investigating the subject, and I hope the result may prove a success.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7:

Compulsory acquisition, of land.

7.—(1) If the Commissioners are unable to acquire by agreement and on reasonable terms any land which they consider it necessary to acquire for the purpose of this Act, they may apply to the Development Commissioners for an order empowering them to acquire the land compulsorily in accordance with the provisions of the schedule to this Act, and the Development Commissioners shall have power to snake such order.

LORD ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved, in subsection (1) after "Commissioners" where that word last occurs, to insert "after giving the owner of such land an opportunity of being heard against such compulsory purchase." The noble Lord said: I understand that the noble Earl in charge of the Bill accepts this Amendment. It is an attempt to put into words what the noble Earl said he thought to be the privilege of an owner who has been deprived of his land.


I agree to the Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page line 25, after ("Commissioners") insert ("after giving the owner of such land an opportunity of being heard against such compulsory purchase").—(Lord Oranmore and Browne.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


LORD DYNEVOR moved to insert in the Schedule the following new paragraph— (e) The owner, lessee or occupier of any mines or minerals lying under any land purchased or within such a lateral distance therefrom that the liberties hereby granted can be made available for the working thereof shall for the purpose of working the same be entitled to enter on any land so purchased and there to use any existing and to sink, erect, make and use any new shafts. machinery and other works, and for that purpose, if necessary, to remove any timber or other trees or any other things growing or being thereon and to lay and use light rails over the land so purchased and to do all such other things thereon or therein as if such land had not been purchased but so that in exercising such liberties no more damage than is reasonably necessary be done to such land, trees or things, and that reasonable compensation be made for any damage actually caused, and if any question shall arise in respect thereof the came shall be determined by the arbitrator,

The noble Lord said: This is the same paragraph that I moved on the Report stage. I would remind your Lordships quite briefly that the intention is to ensure that the owner of minerals and the lessee shall have access through and over the surface in order to work the minerals which may be under the surface acquired by compulsory powers by the Forestry Commissioners. I am advised that, unless some such paragraph as this is put in, there may be a great danger that the owner will not in future be able to sink a shaft or to run a tramline on the surface so acquired. I think it is most essential that although land may be taken for forestry the development of minerals should not be in any way interfered with.

When speaking on the Report stage I also alluded to the question of adjacent minerals and pointed out that it might be quite possible that the Commissioners might take land between the railway and the mineral, and therefore it would be very necessary to reserve rights of crossing that land in order to bring minerals to the railway. My noble friend, Lord Crawford, I think, used the word "wayleaves." I hope I am not to understand from that that the Forestry Commissioners, first of all acquire land compulsorily, and then afterwards charge wayleaves against the owner of the mineral, because, if that is so, it would be simply adding insult to injury. But perhaps I am mistaken in regard to that, and the noble Earl might make it clear. I sincerely hope that he will accept my Amendment. I ant sure that neither he nor the Government wish to stop the development of minerals.

Amendment moved— Page 10, after line 39, insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Dynevor.)


Lord Dynevor says that if the Forest Authority compulsorily acquires land they must take both surface and minerals or, if they leave the minerals to the owner, must entitle him to get those minerals in due time. I agree with that view. I am informed that that is the existing law and practice. Lord Dynevor said he raised this on Report. He also raised it on the Committee stage of the Bill. This is the third occasion that we have discussed it, and every time we have discussed it Lord Dynevor has made the same argument and I have given the same reply—that this is already provided for. I really cannot go further than that.

I do not say this of my own knowledge; I say it on the authority of the Parliamentary draftsman, which, in my opinion, is a good authority. And I think it must be the case that provision is already made under the Lands Clauses Acts. If it were not the case, is it conceivable that this problem could have continued for sixty years without ever having been solved? It constantly happens, and in recent years with increasing frequency, that land is taken compulsorily by the Government for public purposes. Does my noble friend mean that in those cases where the Government does not take the minerals—and that applies to nine out of ten of these cases—the mineral owner has no right of access to those minerals? Of course not. When the agreement is drawn up the authority acquiring compulsorily is bound to state what it is going to do. If it is going to take the surface, it takes the surface and reserves not only the minerals but the right of access to the mineral owner. If it likes to take both it can take both; but if it takes the surface and prevents the mineral owner the right of access, then the Government has to pay for the minerals to which access is prevented.

I adhere to my view that what the noble Lord requires is already provided for in the Statute of the 'forties. But I will make this offer to Lord Dynevor. I do not want to put a long clause into this Bill and then have it struck out as surplusage by the House of Commons, but I will undertake that for the fourth time this matter shall be considered not merely by the Parlia mentary draftsman but that some one shall be consulted of acknowledged authority upon this particular point, and if it is not adequately provided for I will promise him that an Amendment to that effect will be moved in the House of Commons.


I am grateful to my noble friend for what he has said. He has taken great legal advice, but I should only like to point out that I also took legal advice before moving my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


Your Lordships will have been conscious that this Bill contains a large number of privilege Amendments—phrases such as, "there shall be issued out of the Consolidated Fund," "there shall be charged and paid out of the Consolidated Fund," and so on. There are half-a-dozen such Amendments in the Bill, and I beg leave, therefore, to move that these privilege Amendments be made. They do not, of course, affect the text of the measure as it is before the House; it is merely a provision in our customary practice by which there is a variation of printing in order to show the House of Commons the Amendments which are understood to be privilege Amendments.

Moved, That the privilege Amendments be made.—(The Earl of Crawford.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.