HC Deb 08 June 1995 vol 261 cc305-6
3. Mr. Evennett

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the contribution his research and development budget can make to extending the availability of home-grown horticulture produce. [25814]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Michael Jack)

An assessment of the Ministry's research and development budget shows that work on improved crop varieties and seasonal extensions will continue to improve the availability of home-grown horticultural produce.

Mr. Evennett

I thank my hon. Friend for his response. Will he confirm that his R and D programmes are designed to make our domestic producers the best in the world, and able to compete with Europe and the rest of the world? Will he also confirm that research moneys which he is giving are used in conjunction with private industry's research funds?

Mr. Jack

I confirm both those points to my hon. Friend. The work that we have been doing includes the £41 million restructuring of the Horticultural Research Institute, which gives it an opportunity to become one of the best science-based aids to the whole of the United Kingdom horticultural industry and puts it on a good basis to receive money from the Horticultural Development Council. We can go further than that. With the "Technology Foresight" exercise on which we are embarking, on strawberries, mushrooms and apples, we shall look to the future technological needs of the industry.