HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc778-9W
Mr. Roger Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls there are on the import of softwoods into the United Kingdom to ensure that they originate from sustainable forests. [129661]

Mr. Morley

[holding answer 15 September 2003]: The UK Government support sustainable forest management and are committed to tackling illegal logging and its associated trade.

Under EU law, import controls on illegally logged timber, can only be imposed at EU level. We are therefore working actively within the EU, where this is now being considered. The Government have shown leadership in their strong encouragement of the European Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process. The European Commission published a proposed FLEGT action plan on 21 May 2003. The plan includes a proposal to draft a new EU regulation to address imports of illegally logged timber in a way that is consistent with EU obligations to the World Trade Organisation.

The FLEGT action plan deals only with legality. The EU's wider objective is to encourage sustainable forest management. Since in many countries forest legislation is based on the premise of sustainable forest management, better law enforcement will in general lead to more sustainable forest management. Where this is not the case, the Commission propose that the EU should encourage a review of the legal framework.

The UK Government are working with other member states to ensure favourable Council conclusions inviting the Commission to proceed with this work as soon as possible.

Mr. Roger Williams

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what records the Government have of United Kingdom softwood timber prices in(a) 1999, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2002. [129663]

Mr. Bradshaw

[holding answer 15 September 2003]: Average prices for softwood standing sales in Great Britain are presented in the table.

Financial year Average price per cubic metre (£)
1999 —2000 8.72
2000—01 8.15
2001—02 7.52
2002—03 5.74


The figures are taken from sales of standing timber on Forestry Commission land.