HC Deb 11 May 1938 vol 335 cc1583-4
54. Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as representing the Lord President of the Council, whether complete records are kept by the committee of the Privy Council for the organisation and development of agricultural research or by the Agricultural Research Council of all agricultural research conducted by various bodies throughout this country; and what steps are taken to co-ordinate the work with the object of avoiding overlapping and unnecessary duplication of expenditure?

Earl Winterton

The Agricultural Research Council, on their establishment in 1931, made it their first task to survey all the agricultural researches aided by the State in Great Britain, and they have since, through special visiting committees, by making themselves familiar with the annual reports and with other published papers, and by interviews, kept the work at research centres under constant review and have submitted reports upon it to the Committee of the Privy Council and to the Departments concerned. By these means, through technical committees of which the principal research workers interested in a particular subject are members, and by a special annual review, made in consultation with the agricultural departments, of the programmes and estimates of all institutes, unnecessary duplication of work and expenditure is avoided and co-ordination of effort is secured. Moreover, through their Budget Committee, the council fulfil the duty laid upon them of submitting to the Development Commissioners a financial statement analysing the whole provision proposed to be charged on the Development Fund for the ensuing year for agricultural research. As advisers to the Development Commission, the Council are charged to give attention in particular to the requirements (1) that any expansion of agricultural research is directed to the most important research needs of the industry, (2) that present and future facilities available at research institutes or elsewhere are utilised to the greatest advantage, and (3) that undesirable duplication of research work is avoided. At every stage of their work the Council are in close association with the agricultural Departments upon whose Votes, with Appropriations-in-Aid from the Development Fund, the major part of the cost of agricultural research is borne.

Brigadier-General Brown

Yes, but is not the Noble Lord aware that there are bodies all doing the same experimental work, for instance in potatoes, and overlapping, and could not the committee look into the matter so as to co-ordinate their activities under one body?

Earl Winterton

I will convey that suggestion to my Noble Friend.