HC Deb 05 May 1955 vol 540 cc156-7W
Mr. Crouch

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about further administration of agriculture research.

Mr. Amory

The organisation of Agricultural Research has recently been under review, and I am making the following statement with the agreement of my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, who is responsible for the Agricultural Research Council, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Government have had regard to the views expressed by the Select Committee on Estimates in their Report on Agricultural Research (Session 1953–54), and to the observations on this matter contained in the Report of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs.

Agricultural research is playing a most important part in the scientific effort of the country and the betterment of our agriculture, and it is essential that the arrangements for its administration should work with the maximum effectiveness. The Government have decided that it would be of advantage to agricultural research in England and Wales if the grantaiding function which the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has hitherto exercised were transferred to the Agricultural Research Council. The financial and general administration, as well as the scientific direction, of grantaided agricultural research in England and Wales would then be unified under the Council. The independent status of the grant-aided institutes would not be affected.

So far as Scotland is concerned, as has already been announced, the Government have accepted the recommendations of the Royal Commission and no change will be made in the present arrangements under which grants in aid are made by the Secretary of State for Scotland to certain agricultural research institutes on the advice of the Agricultural Research Council.

The importance of linking agricultural research effectively with the needs of the agricultural industry is fully recognised. To this end an Order will be submitted for the approval of Her Majesty in Council reconstituting the Committee of the Privy Council for Agricultural Research so as to consist of the Lord President of the Council and the two Agricultural Ministers.

The Agricultural Departments will have direct representation on the Agricultural Research Council. Close attention will continue to be given to the co-ordination of the work of the Agricultural Research Council on the one hand and the Agricultural Improvement Councils of England and Wales and Scotland on the other.

It is hoped to complete the necessary changes by 31st March, 1956.