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I have been interested in forestry all my life and had a part in the most expensive extracting machinery during the war in getting timber out of German woods with a pick and shovel when I was a prisoner because we were allowed to extract only the roots of the trees and the stumps. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that that was a very expensive way and very hard work and that machinery is badly needed in our woodlands for extraction purposes.
There is a large area of forestry in my constituency, Thetford Chase, probably one of our largest forests. It stretches from my constituency through South Norfolk. These woods were planted 30 or 40 years ago and now a very large programme of extraction is coming along. More and more machinery is needed for the area.
As my hon. Friends have said, the industry has had little to thank any Government for over the past years. It needs a dose of confidence now if it is to go on with the cycle, so necessary in forestry, of planting and felling, which is such an enormously long-term business.
If one puts a stop on any particular part of that cycle—which could happen if it were shown that the Government were not sympathetic to forestry—it has a bad effect upon the whole of this big industry, which could save a tremendous amount in imports. We still have large areas of land in this country which could well have been afforested and I believe that we could save an immense amount of money in growing our own timber.
I, too, was disturbed by the words of the Minister of State in referring to agriculture and forestry as being rather second-rate to industry in the towns. He appeared to put manufacturing industry far above agriculture and forestry. Indeed, if he does not do anything else he should try and dispel that impression and I hope that he will.