I thank my hon. Friend. Does he agree that it takes hours of careful craftsmanship to create a beautiful piece of furniture and just moments of vandalism to smash it to pieces? Is there not an analogy here with the centuries of statesmanship that have created the United Kingdom and the vandals on the Opposition Benches who want to destroy it with the hammer of devolution?
That is an original thought. The trees of the United Kingdom are a fine asset and I am glad that our hardwoods are manufactured into the finest furniture in the world. Quality has always been the watchword of the United Kingdom. It would be a crime to destroy it by going down the route towards independence.
Does the Minister agree that the best place to plant trees would be in the Pollok estate in my constituency where hundred of trees have been vandalised and destroyed to make way for a road that endangers the health and lives of the people of my constituency? It has destroyed one of the greatest beauty spots in the south side. Does the Minister agree that work on that obnoxious road should stop and that the Eaglestone bypass should be considered?
That is rather far removed from furniture. I understand that the road is supported by a Labour council and by Labour Members of Parliament. When the route is completed, I hope that there will be excellent landscaping and that a large number of trees will be planted to replace those that have been felled.
Is not the Minister concerned at the poor take-up of grants for broadleaf trees and the relatively disappointing results of the Government's change of policy towards the support of those who wish to grow hardwood?
I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. Of the 34,000 hectares planted in the United Kingdom last year, 16,000 hectares were hardwood. That is a big improvement on anything that has happened recently. I believe that our increased grants for hardwood are working and I hope that that will continue in the future.
Mr. John D. Taylor:
In view of the revised and improved grants for tree planting in Scotland over the past few years, can the Minister confirm that there has been an increase in tree planting in Scotland?
About 1 million hectares are owned by the Forestry Commission and a substantial number of hectares by private forestry owners. The level is about the same, but as our timber is maturing, more felling is taking place. All felling licences are matched to replanting licences.