§ Mr. John Mackie
The Forestry Commission purchased 32 hill sheep farms or parts of farms in 1966, 43 in 1967 and 50 in 1968.
Comparable figures for private purchases are not available.
§ Mr. Mackie
No, I do not think it is the case. The Forestry Commission, as the hon. Gentleman knows, has to buy land when it becomes available, and in competition with other people. It is the only way in which it can get land. In some cases, particularly in very high hill areas, forestry compares very favourably with hill farming.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
Is my hon. Friend aware of the grave distress caused in parts of Scotland at the large purchases not by the Forestry Commission but by private persons and companies who buy hill farms for afforestation? How far 470 does he think the subsidy given for land passed over to forestry is having an effect on the buying of farms and their utilisation for forestry, when they would be better kept, in the national interest, as sheep farms?
§ Mr. Mackie
We all know that assistance is given to private forestry and, naturally, this must have an effect on the demand and the prices being paid for land, but, as I say, these farms come on the market in a perfectly free way, and I do not think any Government would stop their sale by anything which would reduce the price and, if they did, I think there would be as severe criticisms as we are getting now.