HL Deb 07 June 1945 vol 136 cc507-11

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Rosebery.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee acccordingly.

[The LORD STANMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Reconstruction of Forestry Commission.

(2) At least three of the said Commissioners (hereafter in this Act referred to as "the Commissioners") shall be persons who have special knowledge and experience of forestry and at least one of the Commissioners shall be a person who has scientific attainments and a technical knowledge of forestry.

5.15 p.m.

THE EARL OF CARLISLE, on behalf of Viscount Bledisloe, moved, in subsection (2), to substitute "five" for "three." The noble Earl said: I have been asked by my noble friend Lord Bledisloe, who is unable to be here to-day, to move the Amendment which stands in his name on the Paper. Before referring to it, I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating my noble friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on his appointment, and of wishing him every success, which I am sure he will achieve. I do not propose to detain the Committee, because my noble friend Lord Bledisloe spoke at some length and with great clarity on Tuesday on this subject. I shall only add, therefore, that it seems to me a matter of common sense that on a Commission of this importance at least half the members, which means five, should be persons with special knowledge and experience of forestry. I should have liked to see the number seven. I hope that my noble friend, if unable to accept the Amendment, will at least assure the Committee that when the Commission comes to be chosen a knowledge of forestry will be regarded as of paramount importance in deciding who the members of the Corn-mission shall be.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 12, leave out ("three") and insert ("five").—(The Earl of Carlisle.)


On this important subject there are a few more words which ought perhaps to be said. The Government are very modest in asking that only three out of the ten Commissioners should have a knowledge of forestry, and that only one of those three should have "scientific attainments and a technical knowledge of forestry." I therefore support the Amendment. The forestry industry will be growing very rapidly in the days to come, and the work of the Commission will increase considerably. This is a time when their status ought to be raised, and the Commission and the Government ought to welcome an increase in the number of Commissioners who have a knowledge of the subject. It is very important that the Commissioners should go round the country from time to time and see what is going on, and keep in touch with State and private forestry. I am sure it is widely hoped that a number of them will be able to do this with knowledge and experience. There will be wide disappointment among those concerned with forestry if the number of members of the Commission with knowledge and experience is limited to three. I hope that the Government do not intend to make that limitation, and that, in spite of the limitation laid down in We Bill, they will always see that at least five, and preferably seven, of the Commissioners have a knowledge of the subject.

To save time, I should like to say now that we hope and expect in Scotland that our representation will be considerably increased. As the Committee are aware, there are at present only two Commissioners for Scotland, whereas the acreage of our plantations will in future be very nearly 50 per cent. It is very important, when the Commission is reconstituted, that the Commissioners Should understand the requirements of State ant private forestry, and should pay adequate attention to the 3,000,000 acres in private ownership. In the past the relationship between woodland owners and foresters in private service on the one hand, and the officers and foresters of the Forestry Commission on the other, has been very good; but it has been acknowledged that the Forestry Commissioners, with the best will in the world, have not been in a position to give that full attention to private woodlands that is required, nor have they been able to supply the information which is often needed. I hope, therefore, that, even if the Government are not able to accept this Amendment, they will give an assurance that it is their intention to do all that is necessary for State aril private woodlands.


I will not detain the Committee for more than a minute longer in supporting this Amendment, especially after what has been said by the two noble Lords who have spoken. I endorse all that they have said. It is impossible to have too much expert and experienced knowledge in the task which the Commissioners will have to undertake, especially in achieving a greater measure of success than has bee-, possible in the work of the Forestry Commissioners during the period between this war and the last war in seeing that the interests of forestry, considered purely as a timber-producing industry, are properly married with the interests of agriculture, amenity, preservation of the soil, and all else that has to be taken into consideration. Therefore I have great pleasure in supporting this Amendment, and I hope that it will be accepted and that the number of these specially trained and experienced Commissioner; may be increased from three to five.

5.20 p.m.


should like to thank my noble friend who moved the Amendment in place of the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. I am grateful to him for his good wishes, which I shall endeavour to deserve, but I am afraid, in spite of that, that I shall have to resist the Amendment. I think there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding by the noble Lords who supported the Amendment, because it is not in the least intended that there should not be learned and efficient men on this Commission. The Commission is intended to be an efficient instrument for the execution of the Government's forestry policy, but if it is to be efficient it is important that the Ministers concerned should have freedom to choose the best men for the job. I am sure the noble Duke remembers that in the Act of 1919 there was no general provision for the inclusion of forestry experts in the Commission, except that it required, as the present Bill does, that one member should have "scientific attainments and a technical knowledge of forestry." Beyond that the only requirement in the Act was that there should be two members with knowledge of Scottish forestry. This was primarily designed for the protection of Scotland, and that protective measure is not now considered necessary. But I can assure the noble Duke that he has a not unsympathetic person in the present Secretary of State for Scotland when he asks that there should be a stronger representation of Scotland on the new Commission.

Other points that the noble Duke raised will be dealt with, I think, more faithfully in the Bill which we all hope will be passed in the next Parliament—a Bill for which, after all, this Bill is only intended to provide the machinery. I should like to say, in conclusion, how pleased I was to read in the newspapers to-day that His Majesty had conferred Peerages on Sir George Courthope and Mr. Quibell. I am not quite sure whether because they leave another place they necessarily retire from the Commission, but I am perfectly certain that they will be of the greatest assistance here in forestry matters.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause I agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.