This is entry No.25, first published on 28 January 2011, of a blog on public bodies reform. Click here to view the whole blog.
Labour has now tabled the following motion in relation to the proposed Forestry Commission sell-off for debate in the Commons on 2 February:
That this House believes that the Government's intention in the Public Bodies Bill to sell off up to 100 per cent of England's public forestry is fundamentally unsound; notes that over 225,000 people have signed a petition against such a sell-off; recognises the valuable role that the Forestry Commission and England's forests have made to increasing woodland biodiversity and public access with over 40 million visits a year; further recognises that the total subsidy to the Forestry Commission has reduced from 35 per cent of income in 2003-04 to 14 per cent of income in 2010-11; further notes that the value of the ecosystems services provided by England's public forest estate is estimated to be £680 million a year; notes that the value of such services could increase substantially in the future through the transition to a low carbon economy as a carbon market emerges; notes that the public forest estate has been retained in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; and calls on the Government to rethink its decision on the sales of England's public forest estate in order to protect it for future generations.
So we won't have to wait now for the committee stage on the Public Bodies Bill to resume in the Lords before this subject gets debated in Parliament and the government comes out to defend its position as set out in yesterday's consultation paper.