§ 11. Mr. Stodart
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what date he has set as a target for clearing the timber blown down in the gale last January.
§ Mr. Stodart
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the situation in the light of that reply is extremely serious, 1508 particularly in the private sector? Is it not the case that, by the end of last September, only 20 per cent. of windblown timber in that sector had been cleared and that, if the target date is to be reached, clearance will have to be stepped up in order to cover 75 per cent.? Since manpower has drifted away from these areas with the approach of winter, will he consider giving an inducement to try to get men back?
§ Dr. Mabon
The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on the trouble. The figures he has quoted are more or less accurate. The shortage of skilled labour is the critical matter. We want to review this as we go on and consider whether we can improve on progress but, frankly, I do not know whether we can now manage the target because of manpower shortage. However, we shall do our best.
§ Mr. Manuel
Will my hon. Friend note that the number of forestry workers employed by the Forestry Commission is being steeply run down? This will reach a figure of about 2,000 over the whole country but mainly in Scotland. Will he watch this aspect in Scotland?
§ Sir J. Gilmour
If the target date cannot be achieved, will it not be necessary to extend transport help beyond that date?