HC Deb 30 March 1933 vol 276 c1199W

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that in Ashdown Forest, which was placed under the control of a board of conservators by Act of Parliament, an increasing number of fires has taken place during the last four years; that in the four days up to 25th March, 1933, 15 separate fires took place, of which four were within half a mile; and that nearly all the fires occur between midnight and 3.30 a.m. and far from a road; and, as owing to want of funds and the extent of the forest it is impossible for the conservators to protect the forest, he will introduce amending legislation giving the conservators increased powers?


My hon. Friend had previously called my attention to the increasing number of fires in this forest and to the damage which they cause. The Malicious Damage Act, 1861, provides a maximum penatly of 14 years' penal servitude for unlawfully and maliciously setting fire to any heath, gorse, furze or fern, and on my present information I do not see how further legislation can afford increased protection against these fires. The chief constable of East Sussex, with whom I have been in communication, informs me that he is taking special measures with a view to the detection of the offenders, and he will be ready to discuss the matter with the conservators of the forest if they will get into communication with him.