§ Mr. Heathcoat-Amory
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has yet reached a decision on his Department's future funding of the Soil Survey of England and Wales.
§ Mr. Jopling
In January 1985 I announced, in accordance with the advice of the Priorities Board, that, while the Ministry's commission with the Soil Survey would be unchanged in 1985–86, it would be set at half its current level in 1986–87. This early notification was intended to give the Soil Survey and the Agricultural and Food Research Council an opportunity to explore the possibility of alternative sources of income for future years. The Soil Survey has responded positively to the challenge of securing funds through a wider range of commercial contracts and the Priorities Board has now given further consideration to the funding of the Soil Survey beyond 1986–87. In accordance with the board's recommendations, I have decided that the Ministry should continue to commission work with the Soil Survey at levels of £650,000 in 1987–88 and £500,000 in 1988–89. The needs of my Department beyond this period will be reviewed at the appropriate time and the Priorities Board will again be consulted.