HL Deb 03 July 1985 vol 465 cc1300-2WA
Lord Melchett

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether decisions on future priorities for agricultural research are taken on the basis of advice from the Priorities Board, and whether, in view of current concern about the future of agricultural research, they will ask the Priorities Board—

  1. (a) to consult the agricultrual industry before making recommendations;
  2. (b) to invite evidence from any interested parties on specific issues that they are considering; and
  3. (c) to publish their conclusions and recommendations.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Belstead)

The terms of reference of the Priorities Board are to advise the agricultural Ministers and the chairman of Agricultural and Food Research Council on priorities for research and development and on the allocation of research and development budgets. Although the board is advisory, it is expected that the advice which it gives will normally be accepted.

The board operates under the chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Durham, chairman of Unilever plc, and its membership, though small, encompasses a wide range of expertise. It can also draw on the reports and recommendations of research consultative committees, whose membership comprises specialists from both industry and research. This enables the board to take a view of national needs over the whole range of agricultural and food research. In addition, I understand that the board has been assisted in its current work by a number of submissions from within the industry, all of which are considered most carefully.

The board's advice on future priorities and resource allocations will be made available to agriculture

1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Bankruptcies 35 23 28 52 56 76 82
£ £ £ £ £ £ £
Liabilities 812,304 550,783 1,276,124 2,259,313 2,171,097 4,650,124 4,010,218
Assets 224,781 154,320 252,424 478,758 497,587 1,376,149 942,166

Ministers and the chairman of the AFRC. When it is received we shall be considering how all those with an interest are to be kept informed.