§ Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what are the latest developments regarding the financial cuts proposed for the Welsh plant breeding station, Aberystwyth; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
The Agricultural and Food Research Council's intention is:
- (i) to discontinue spring barley breeding at Welsh plant breeding station — WPBS — leaving the Plant Breeding Institute — PBI — and Scottish Crop Research Institute — SCRI — with United Kingdom responsibility for breeding this crop. The WPBS will continue to survey cereal pathogens and to trial PBI and SCRI advanced lines. The most promising advanced lines in the WPBS programme will continue to be assessed. Annual savings of about £200,000 should be achieved during the financial years 1984–86.
- (ii) to cut back on WPBS work on departmental genetics and on chemistry to achieve savings of about £300,000 over the financial years 1984–87.
- (iii) to support fully the new hills and uplands research initiative, additional funds totalling £296,000 in 1984–85 to be allocated to the WPBS budget. £110,000 is already included in the 1984–85 recurrent budget. £186,000 will be made available for capital works.
The WPBS will remain the sole centre for research into grasses and herbage crops and oats. It is proposed to finance revenue expenditure of the station at about £3 million in 1984–85 and subsequently as compared with £3.2 million in 1983–84.
The revised remit of the WPBS, which reflects the above measures, is now with the college authorities for their approval. Implementation of the programme changes will start in the 1984–85 financial year.