HC Deb 23 March 1995 vol 257 c474
6. Mr. Lester

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what opportunities the new FP IV European research programme for the agriculture, fisheries and food sectors will provide for United Kingdom researchers. [13880]

Mr. Waldegrave

The new agriculture and fisheries programme, part of the fourth framework programme is well directed to United Kingdom priorities, including animal health and welfare, non-food agriculture, fish stock management and aquaculture and food technology and nutrition. Some 660 million ecu, or just over £500 million are available for the programme. There are wide opportunities for United Kingdom researchers to participate.

Mr. Lester

Does my right hon. Friend agree that research and development is vital to the future of British agriculture? Is not it a good thing that, despite contributing 15 per cent. to the European programme, we won back 18 per cent. from the last programme?

Mr. Waldegrave

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. In last year's expenditure round, I protected the domestic research and development budget of my Department for that reason. My hon. Friend is entirely right about the European Community's research and development programme. Various things have to be done on European scale if we are to compete with the Americans and the far east. It is encouraging that British scientists are the preferred partners of those in France and Germany, which is why we get back more than we put in.

Mr. Peter Atkinson

Can my right hon. Friend advise me if a research grant would be available to Northern Foods, which today announced substantial staff reductions, not only in its milk sector, but in its meat and groceries division?

Mr. Waldegrave

I have no doubt that the company might be able to form a joint venture and make an application for research funds. I very much hope that that would enable it to confirm that a large part of the redundancies it has sadly had to announce have nothing whatsoever to do with its milk business.