asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, the total acreage of land for planting now secured towards the scheme of extra planting undertaken to relieve unemployment in the Special Areas; the location and acreage so secured for County Durham, South Wales, and Scotland, respectively; and the number of unemployed men who have been set to work in the three Special Areas aforementioned, respectively?
The acreage of land for planting actually secured towards the scheme of extra planting in the Special Areas is 6,926 being part of a much larger area approved for acquisition. 4,904 acres are in the north of England, none in County Durham itself and 2,022 acres in South Wales. The scheme is not applicable to Scotland. It will not be possible to start afforestation operations on these new acquisitions during the current planting season, but in South Wales 35 persons, and in the north of England 17 persons, are employed on nursery work for the Special Areas scheme.
Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman say why so little afforestation has been undertaken in the county of Durham?
A great deal has been done in the neighbouring counties which will give relief to the county of Durham.
Why has so little been undertaken in the county of Durham? Why has it been neglected?
It has not been neglected.
Is not there any land in the neighbourhood of Durham that could be planted?
asked the hon. and gallant Member for Rye, as representing the Forestry Commissioners, how much money has been paid to the Forestry Commissioners in respect to the additional planting undertaken to relieve unemployment in the Special Areas; and, if possible, what amount was paid for acreage in or near county Durham, South Wales, and Scotland Special Areas, respectively?
The grant-in-aid to the Forestry Commission was increased during the financial year 1936–37 by £200,000 in respect of afforestation schemes in or near the Special Areas in England and Wales, but without allocation to the different areas. The actual sums paid for the acquisition of land are South Wales £9,450, North of England £10,365. In addition acquisitions amounting to approximately £100,000 have been approved by the Commissioners.
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to reply to the question how much money has been spent on acreage in the county of Durham?
If that is correct, how can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say that the county of Durham has not been neglected? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer!"] May I put a further supplementary question if the hon. and gallant Member is unable to answer, namely, whether the Forestry Commissioners have in contemplation any afforestation schemes for the county of Durham?
The Forestry Commissioners are under an obligation to arrange special afforestation schemes for the Special Areas, of which the county of Durham forms a part. There is no obligation to select individual counties.
Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the question on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.