HL Deb 02 July 1986 vol 477 cc1022-4WA
Lord Gisborough

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are yet in a position to announce the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods' plans for the funding of research and development in 1987–88.

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

In January 1985 my right honourable friend the Minister of Agricul-ture, Fisheries and Food announced that expenditure by the agriculture departments on research and development would be reduced by £10m in 1986-87 and £20m in 1987–88. These changes reflected the Government's aim that industry should make a greater financial contribution towards the research and development from which it benefits. In line with that decision, my right honourable friend announced in July 1985 that the savings required in the publicly funded research and development programme in 1986–87 would be found through rationalisation of the existing programme and the removal of less effective areas of work.

In order to achieve the savings required in 1987–88, it is now necessary for the public sector sponsors to identify the further adjustments which will be made to their research expenditure. In reaching decisions on the changes, we have been guided by the advice of the Priorities Board on future priorities and resource allocations. In the case of the Minstry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the level of our commissioned expenditure with the Agricultural and Food Research Council in 1987–88, is expected to reduce from £47.9m in the current year to £43.8m next year. In parallel, the funds allocated to research and development in the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service will reduce from £42.2m to £39.4m. Even after these reductions and those to be made by the other sponsors, the Government will still be funding nearly £200m of research and development in relation to agriculture and food in 1987–88.

We are in close consultation with all sector interests to encourage the development of industry funding arrangements which could operate alongside the publicly funded programme. The positive response in the horticultural and cereals sectors is most welcome and we know that other sectors are considering actively how they might be involved in funding such work. We are sure that the industry fully appreciates the benefits which flow from the research and development programme and we hope that all sectors will be willing to fund work that is likely to be of direct economic benefit to them. A partnership on this basis will ensure that work is targeted even more precisely on industry's needs.