Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (K 1)


  1.  The Forestry Commission (FC) is a separate Department answerable directly to Ministers in England, Scotland and Wales. In accordance with its status, it reports directly to Ministers (not via MAFF officials), and has its own Accounting Officer.


  2.  The Committee requested a note from MAFF on the arrangements for the FC post-devolution. As for agriculture, fisheries and food, virtually all internal aspects of forestry have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales. The FC's remit does not extend to Northern Ireland.

  3.  The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Minister) has been responsible for directing the activities of the FC in England since 1945. There has been no recent change in the Minister's responsibilities for forestry in England. Since devolution he has responsibility for those forestry issues not devolved (including overall responsibility for international negotiations on forestry matters) on the basis of advice from the FC but involving the devolved administrations in discussions with a view to reaching an agreed line. Further information on the relationship between the FC and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales is contained in the separate memorandum being submitted by the FC to the Committee.


  4.  In 2000, the MAFF Departmental Report also incorporated for the first time the FC's departmental report.

  5.  Until 30 October 2000 the lead responsibility within MAFF for general liaison with the FC lay with Rural Division (within Environment Group). From that date, the lead responsibility has been transferred to a new Land Use Division (also within Environment Group).

  6.  FC officials are responsible for advising the Minister about matters relating to forestry policy falling within the FC's responsibilities. However, as with any Department's responsibilities for certain policy areas, there may be occasions where another Department also has an interest. Where forestry policy matters impinge on the agricultural, environmental or rural economy interests of MAFF, if necessary MAFF officials also would contribute advice to Ministers.

  7.  MAFF Divisions and the FC consult and liaise with each other about matters of mutual interest. A recent example was the preparation of the England Rural Development Programme. A number of MAFF Divisions and the FC have varying responsibilities for measures included in that Programme. MAFF and FC officials have kept in close touch over the preparation of the Plan and that co-operation continues as the measures in the Programme are implemented.

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
November 2000

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