HC Deb 17 March 1987 vol 112 cc470-1W
53. Dr. Bray

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will reconsider the privatisation of the Plant Breeding Institute and National Seed Development Organisation, in view of the resignation of the director, Professor Peter Day, and 60 of the staff.

Mr. Walden

No. An information memorandum, offering PBI/NSDO for sale, will be issued shortly. Moreover the impression the hon. Member gives of substantial resignations from PBI is misleading. I understand that the director, currently aged 58, has 16 years previous working experience in the USA and has now decided—following a successful period at the PBI —to return to take up a prestigious new appointment. Of the 64 staff who have left the PBI in the last three years, half were voluntary premature retirements and redundancies and the others reflect natural turnover in a work force of some 250. Over the same period 54 staff have been recruited to PBI, mostly on short-term contracts. Overall, these changes reflect a relative shift in the balance of work from plant breeding and crop science towards growth in plant biotechnology.