§ Mr. Pollock
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is in a position to make a statement of the Government's consideration of whether, within the existing rules, ancient semi-natural woodlands should be able to qualify for exemption from capital taxation in recognition of their heritage value.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The policy statement on broadleaved woodlands made on Wednesday 21 July 1985 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) at columns557–61 indicated that the Government would be giving consideration to this matter. The conclusion which has been reached is that ancient semi-natural woodlands which are, or could be, properly included on the Nature Conservancy Council's "Inventory of Ancient Woodland" are eligible for consideration for exemption under the existing rules. In order to bring this matter to the attention of woodland owners, it has been decided to include a specific reference to the position in the next revision of the Treasury memorandum "Capital Taxation and the National Heritage", the official guide on tax reliefs for heritage property. This passage will read as follows:Ancient semi-natural woodlands which are, or could be, properly included on the Nature Conservancy Council's Inventory of Ancient Woodland will be eligible for consideration for exemption on scientific as well as scenic or historic grounds, but each case will need to be considered on its merits. Other woodlands on ancient woodland sites, including plantations, would not normally be expected to qualify on scientific grounds, but may be accepted if they satisfy the criteria relating to land of outstanding scenic or historic interest.
In our broadleaves policy statement of Wednesday 24 July 1985, we said that steps would be taken, in particular, to ensure that the special interest of the ancient semi-natural woodlands is recognised and maintained. I hope that the amplification of the capital taxation provisions that I have given above will provide a positive lead to owners of such woodlands and other woodlands of outstanding interest.598W
§ Mr. John MacKay
Information distinguishing urgent and non-urgent cases is not held centrally. The mean waiting times (in days) for all in-patient treatment up to 1984 (the latest year for which statistics are available) were as follows: