asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps his Department is taking to encourage the planting of hardwoods.
The Government offer a supplementary grant of £125 per hectare for hardwood planting under the Forestry Commission's new dedication scheme. My right hon. Friend's own Department plants many hardwoods and other trees—for example, along the motorways—assists local authority planting schemes and supports the Tree Council. Moreover, grants for planting in the countryside may be available from the Countryside Commission.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that excellent reply. I appreciate his Department's concern. Has his right hon. Friend had discussions with the Treasury, and has he pointed out to the Treasury that the effect of its capital transfer tax will be very damaging to British forestry and that all the good intentions of his Department will be frustrated by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is not careful?
I read with interest the hon. Gentleman's contribution to a debate on 21st January and I believe I am right in saying that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said at that time that he would carefully consider all the representations which had been made.
I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, as indeed I welcome the encouraging of every form of planting of small copses of hardwoods. Will he urge the bringing under proper planting control of large-scale planting of softwoods, which is terribly damaging over many parts of the countryside?
I shall certainly consider the question, as I must whenever my hon. Friend makes a suggestion, because of his well-known history of interest in and concern for the environment. I know that the planting of suitable trees in suitable places is a matter of great concern. I shall look at the problem.