HC Deb 02 December 1985 vol 88 cc17-8
52. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has any plans for the expansion of those scientific units of his Department whose work concerns the prevention of famine.

Mr. Raison

I have no present plans for their expansion.

Mr. Spearing

If, as the Minister has just said to my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Deakins), increasing food production is one of the principal targets of Her Majesty's Government, why have they cut research services at the Tropical Development and Research Institute and the Land Resources Development Centre? Is he aware that the latter has had to turn down applications for work on preventing famine? Would not one tenth, or even one twentieth, of the sum properly spent on the RAF work in Ethiopia transform the work of these departments and restore the Government's cuts?

Mr. Raison

There have been cuts in our scientific units, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, but they are still capable of doing an extremely valuable job. They have never been able to take on all the work that they have been asked to do. Obviously there are limitations on their resources. However, I assure the House that we value them highly, and their work is a valuable complement to the emergency relief work that we do.