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Clause 1. — (Machinery and Plant.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Industrial Development Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th August 1966.

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Photo of Mr James Davidson Mr James Davidson , Aberdeenshire West 12:00 am, 11th August 1966

Some of the points I wish to make have been dealt with already, and I shall try to keep my remarks brief. First, comparisons have this evening already been made with agriculture, though perhaps not with fishing, but in fact these are three industries which are normally grouped together, agriculture, forestry and fishing. Agriculture is eligible for machinery and plant—and will be eligible under the Agriculture Bill; the fishing industry is already eligible for grants given by the White Fish Authority; but, for some reason which I find very hard to understand, the forestry industry is being excluded.

The point is being made by the Government that the forestry industry is eligible for certain grants, but they are grants for planting, not for machinery or for extraction. Those grants will not, on the whole, go to people who do the extracting. Extracting is more usually done by independent contractors, and for this reason this industry is regarded as a separate part of what is the same industry.

It has been said that the amount involved is perhaps not very large. I should like to make the point that to those involved as contractors in the extracting industry the amount may be very large indeed, and to the small contractor it is a very large amount of money.

I should like to mention the aspect of employment. It has been said that this is outside the scope and function of the Bill, but surely part of the scope and function of the Bill is to try to stimulate employment in the development areas, and this is surely important. Timber extraction and forestry in general form a highly important industry in many development areas, and particularly in the north and north-east of Scotland. It would be an encouragement if help to them with their equipment were allowed under this Bill.

It would be an encouragement to private forestry. I should like to stress at this point that by private forestry I mean the planting of trees in the right place, not the wrong place, and, in passing I would say that some of us would be delighted to see rural development boards set up in due course, guaranteeing the interests of agriculture and forestry.

I know very well that in my own part of Scotland there is a very great shortage of land for planting timber, and I believe that this small Amendment would in fact assist in this way. One of the reasons why the Forestry Commission cannot get land is that it will not pay sufficiently high prices for it. If there were these grants available for extracting machinery, that would reduce the costs of extraction, reduce the costs of timber production, and, therefore, would enable the Forestry Commission to offer slightly higher prices for land and thus make it more readily available for planting.