CROFTER FORESTRY (SCOTLAND) BILL

Second Scottish Standing Committee

CROFTER FORESTRY (SCOTLAND BILL)

6th March 1991

PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Second Scottish Standing Committee

CROFTER FORESTRY (SCOTLAND) BILL

Wednesday 6 March 1991

CONTENTS

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

Committee rose at twenty-four minutes to Eleven o'clock.

LONDON: HMSO

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1

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Ted Leadbitter

Buchanan-Smith, Mr. Alick (Kincardine and Deeside)

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland)

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas (Perth and Kinross)

Forsyth, Mr. Michael (Minister of State, Scottish Office)

Foulkes, Mr. George (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

Galbraith, Mr. Sam (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)

Home Robertson, Mr. John (East Lothian)

Kennedy, Mr. Charles (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

Lang, Mr. Ian (Secretary of State for Scotland)

Macdonald, Mr. Calum (Western Isles)

Monro, Sir Hector (Dumfries)

Moonie, Dr. Lewis (Kirkcaldy)

Stewart, Mr. Allan (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland)

Walker, Mr. Bill (Tayside, North)

Wilson, Mr. Brian (Cunninghame, North)

Younger, Mr. George (Ayr)

Mr. B. M. Hutton, Committee Clerk

2
3 Second Scottish Standing Committee Wednesday 6 March 1991

[MR. TED LEADBITTER in the Chair]

CROFTER FORESTRY (SCOTLAND) BILL

10.30 am

The Chairman: Before we deal with the Bill, I remind the Committee that there are copies of the financial resolution on the Table.

Clause 1
USE OF COMMON GRAZINGS FOR FORESTRY PURPOSES

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Calum Macdonald (Western Isles): First, let me express my pleasure that you are in the Chair, Mr. Leadbitter, for what I hope will be the short duration of the Committee. I am grateful to the hon. Members present and also those who lent their names to allow the Committee to sit. I have no personal financial interest in the Bill, but I am a member of the Scottish Crofters' Union and my mother still resides on a croft, so that may be a tangential interest. The purpose of the Bill is to give crofters entry into forestry and access to the grants available under the Forestry Commission woodland grants scheme and the farm woodland scheme. Crofting has always been characterised by high rates of self-employment and home ownership. In that respect, the rest of the country was merely catching up during the 1980s. In times of agricultural over-production, crofting points the way to a diversified and healthy rural economy. The typical crofter combines a variety of occupations, some of them even legal. There were two important trends in forestry during the 1980s which have continued into the 1990s. The first is the increasing emphasis on private planting. The Forestry Commission which is the state agency, was responsible for only a third of new planting in the 1980s. The second trend, which I hope will increase during the 1990s, is a shift away from single species blanket planting towards other goals. They include nature conservation, rehabilitation of exhausted soils and aesthetic aims. The new crofter forestry will be well placed to take advantage of both those new trends. That should commend the Bill to all members of the Committee. 4 The Bill has been a long time in the making. It started as a campaign by the Scottish Crofters' Union in the mid-1980s and was developed through an agreement with the Scottish Landowners' Federation. The Crofters Commission also contributed greatly to the development of the Bill and Scottish Office officials provided expert advice on the legal side of the Bill. I have been involved in the project since I first entered the House—it was the subject of my maiden speech, and I am a member of the Select Committee on Agriculture. That Committee, in its report "Land Use and Forestry" dated 1979 or 1980, recommended a Bill such as this. The Bill was introduced in the previous Parliament by the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) and he performed a great service by bringing the subject to the attention of the House. I look forward with great pleasure to the passage of the Bill through the Committee today.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. Michael Forsyth): I am grateful to have the opportunity to express the Government's support for the Bill and in particular for this clause, which goes to the heart of the Bill. It will enable grazing committees to plant trees on common grazings and to use common grazings as woodland. I congratulate the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) on his roles as midwife to the Bill and as a participant in taking the Bill through the House. As he said, it has taken much hard work by the Scottish Landowners Federation, the Scottish Crofters Union, the National Farmers Union of Scotland, the Crofters Commission and officials in the Scottish Office. The Bill will provide a further opportunity for crofters to diversify with the appropriate Government assistance and I strongly commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause, 2, 3 and 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Chairman: Before I propose that the Committee reports the Bill to the House, I congratulate the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) and his supporters on both sides of the Committee. The Chairman is very happy because he can shoot off for a cup of tea.

Bill to be reported, without amendment.

Committee rose at twenty-four minutes to Eleven o'clock.

5

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE

Leadbitter, Mr. Ted (Chairman)

Buchanan-Smith, Mr.

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Forsyth, Mr. Michael

Galbraith, Mr.

Home Robertson, Mr.

Kennedy, Mr.

Macdonald, Mr.

Monro, Sir Hector

Moonie, Dr.

Stewart, Mr. Allan

Walker, Mr. Bill

Wilson, Mr.

6