HC Deb 01 May 1995 vol 259 c14
28. Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what response he is sending to the representations he has received concerning the dismissal of the director of the Institute of Virology in Oxford by the Natural Environment Research Council; and if he will make a statement. [20147]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science (Mr. John Horam)

This is a matter for the Natural Environment Research Council, under its royal supplemental charter. However, I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's concern about this matter, and I will write to him shortly.

Mr. Dalyell

Is a perfunctory three days to clear one's desk and leave really an acceptable response to an internationally distinguished scientist on whose personal behaviour there is no blemish? Is that really the way in which the NERC should behave?

Mr. Horam

As the hon. Gentleman knows, at the bottom of the dispute is a difference of view about future research between the Institute of Virology and the NERC. The matter was discussed over a year, and an independent review came down on the side of the NERC. It was impossible to resolve the dispute, and Professor Bishop, the director, was given six months' notice and quite a generous package. It was clearly impossible to continue on the wrong direction for research, so he received three days' notice. None the less, I assure the hon. Gentleman that no aspersion is cast on the ability of Professor Bishop, who remains a distinguished and eminent virologist.