HC Deb 28 October 1985 vol 84 c305W
Dr. Marek

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether a final decision has been reached about the future work of the plant breeding station at Aberystwyth; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke

The Welsh plant breeding station at Aberystwyth is an institute of the Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC), which receives a grant-in-aid from the Department's science budget.

I understand that the AFRC is shortly to publish a statement of forward policy based on its long-term view discussion paper and subsequent consultation. The council is committed to supporting a strong research programme at the Welsh plant breeding station relating to the needs of livestock and grassland enterprises of the wetter west of Britain. The station will make a major contribution to the council's integrated research programme for the animal production and grasslands sector.

I understand that the AFRC expects to make a grant of £3.01 million to the Welsh plant breeding station for recurrent expenditure in 1986–87. This compares with £3.09 million in the current year and takes account of the reduced needs of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for commissioned research in 1986–87.

I understand further that the director expects fully to maintain current work on hills and uplands, nitrogen fixation, nutrient cycling and basic developmental studies of grass and clover. There will however be reductions in strategic research on crop physiology and grass cytogenetics, as well as in commissioned research.

The reductions are likely to cause 25 posts to be lost at the station, some of which may involve compulsory redundancy.