Forestry Commission (Timber Sales)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset 12:00 am, 13th July 1964

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the value of purchases from Forestry Commission woodlands by the National Coal Board and the Post Office in the last financial year; and how this compares with 1958–59.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

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.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

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?

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

My right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General is fully aware of this and does a great deal to encourage the use of home-grown timber. I will take note of what my hon. Friend has said.

Photo of Colonel Leonard Ropner Colonel Leonard Ropner , Barkston Ash

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?

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

So far as I know, there are no such arrangements, because the Forestry Commission does not undercut private forestry. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barkston Ash (Sir L. Ropner) will know that private forest owners are producers of the largest amount of hardwood timber.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

Will the Parliamentary Secretary refute the statement of his leader that concerns such as the Forestry Commission are "the junk yard of nationalisation"?

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

My right hon. Friend never said anything of the sort.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

The hon. Member is distorting the facts again.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the value of purchases from the Forestry Commission woodlands for the fencing of motorways and other new roads during the last financial year.

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

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.

Photo of Mr Simon Digby Mr Simon Digby , West Dorset

With the increasing building of new roads, will my hon. Friend press on the Ministry of Transport the importance of using home-grown timber as confidence has been building up to a commendable extent by the action of local road authorities?

Photo of Mr James Scott-Hopkins Mr James Scott-Hopkins , North Cornwall

The Minister of Transport is aware of this and he recently revised the specifications for motorway fencings to permit of the use of a wide range of home-grown timbers.