§ Sir Hector Monro
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will arrange for the Forestry Commission's regional advisory committees to publish an account of their meetings held to consider disputed grant aid and felling applications and of the advice they give to the Forestry Commission in such cases.
§ Mr. Lang
We addressed the question of publicising the work done by the Commission's regional advisory committees in their consideration of disputed grant aid and felling proposals when we responded to the Agriculture Committee's report on land use and forestry last May. We concluded that it would not be practical or conducive to the committees' conciliation role in such cases to throw open their discussions with the applicant and the objecting authority or authorities to anyone who wished to attend. We did, however, ask the Forestry Commission to look at the possibility of an account of such meetings and of the regional advisory committee's subsequent advice to the Forestry Commissioners being published. I am pleased to say that such information will be provided in all future cases in the form of a press release to be issued at the stage that the committee reports to the commissioners.
This is an important change which I am sure will be widely welcomed. It will make the work of the committees in this area more open and serve to demonstrate the value and objectivity of their contribution.