The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Baldock) and the hon. and gallant Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke), on the Government side of the House, have declared their interest in the growing and marketing of timber. I want to declare my interest, not as a woodland or forest owner, but because I happen to be a Member of the Society of the Men of the Trees, whose objective is to inspire and encourage people to love trees and to plant them wherever they can be planted, not so much for the purpose of destroying them when they have grown to maturity, but to beautify the countryside. The British are a tree-loving people.
I want to sound a note of warning to the Minister of Agriculture, because I was a little disturbed when the hon. Member for Harborough was making recommendations to the Minister to solicit the trade of the N.C.B. for the purpose of using home-grown timber for roof supports in the pits. English-grown timber—and I speak from experience as a pit man, having had the opportunity of using it—will not do in British coal mines. Many of my hon. Friends on this side of the House would support me in that contention.
I had better be very careful, because, otherwise, I may start a controversial debate, and I do not want to do that. There is a use for home-grown timber in the pits, but its use cannot be such that it will give a sense of security to the miner. Home-grown timber can be used, but, in the main, it can only be used for chocking and lagging purposes. Timber from Scandinavia, Northern Russia and Finland gives a higher degree of security to the miner at work at the coal face than English-grown timber. I am not finding fault with the English or the Scottish growers—it just happens that it will not do.
During the two world wars we were compelled by force of circumstances to use English-grown timber, but we had to be extremely careful in our choice of timber for roof supports at the coal face. As I say, I do not want to strike a discordant note, but I warn, as a practical pitman, that care should be taken not to be too enthusiastic in suggesting the use of English-grown timber for straight roof support.