§ Mr. Wall
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the review of Fisheries Research and Development Organisation.
§ Mr. Prior
On 17th December, 1970, I informed the House that my right hon. Friends and I who are concerned with the matter had initiated a review of the organisation of Government-aided fishery research and development. In the light of this review we have reached the conclusion that certain changes of organisation are desirable.
First, it is proposed from 1st April next, to transfer responsibility for the Torry Research Station, whose main function is the study of fish as a food, from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to me. In assuming this responsibility I shall maintain the closest association with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry so that their interests are fully taken into account.
Second, the interests of the Government and the industry as "customers" for fisheries research and development are to be brought together and exercised through a Fisheries Research and Development Board. The Board's primary task will be to advise both Fisheries Ministers on the objectives of fisheries research and development to agree the programmes needed to meet these objectives (including priorities within them) 361W and the necessary financial resources, and to monitor progress. The Board will be representative of the Government Departments concerned, and of the Natural Environment Research Council; and I hope that the industry, too, will agree to be represented.
Third, it is intended to appoint a Controller of Fisheries Research and Development whose task it will be to supervise the research and development programmes of the various laboratories and stations and to ensure that they are met in the most efficient and economic way possible. The Controller will be one of the present Directors of Government Fisheries Laboratories; he will be responsible for the work of the laboratories and will report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself jointly.
The Controller of Fisheries Research and Development will be supported by a management group of directors of the Government Fisheries Laboratories, of which he will be a chairman. The chief function of the group will be to control and ensure co-ordination of the work of the laboratories and stations and to eliminate the possibility of unnecessary duplication.
I am confident that these measures will do much to ensure that the needs of Government and industry alike as customers for research and development in the fisheries area will be identified, understood and carried out with efficiency and economy.
No immediate change is contemplated in the White Fish Authority's responsibilities for research and development. But my right hon. Friend and I have the future of the Authority under consideration and will inform the House of our conclusions soon.