In round figures, the values of direct sales were £450,000 and £12,000, respectively, in 1963–64, compared with £365,000 and £5,000 in 1958–59. I would emphasise that these figures relate only to direct sales of timber. The Forestry Commission do not know the ultimate use or destination of the timber which they sell to merchants.
In view of those rather disappointing figures, and bearing in mind modern substitutes for timber, will my hon. Friend keep in mind the big public investment there is in our woodlands and continue to urge on his colleagues in other Departments the importance of trying to buy home-grown timber at reasonable prices?
Will my hon. Friend also remember the interests of private woodland owners? As the Forestry Commission is now by far the greatest producer of timber, greater than any individual forestry producer, can he say what arrangements exist—if any—for prohibiting the Forestry Commission from undercutting private forestry in price?
The value of direct sales of fencing materials by the Forestry Commission to the Ministry of Transport and to local authorities for use on new roads was about £2,400 in 1963–64. Undoubtedly, however, a much larger amount of timber sold indirectly was also used for those purposes, although I cannot quote a figure.