HC Deb 26 October 1987 vol 121 c1W
Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) whether, in the light of falling land values in Aberdeen and the revised upward costings of both phase I and II of adapting the Scottish Marine Biological Association laboratory at Oban, he will advise the Natural Environment Research Council to review its plans to close the Institute of Marine Biochemistry in Aberdeen and transfer its staff to the Oban laboratory;

(2) if he will publish the latest estimate of (a) the anticipated building costs consequent upon the removal of work from the Institute of Marine Biochemistry in Aberdeen to the Scottish Marine Biological Association laboratory at Oban, (b) the anticipated receipts from the sale of the Institute of Marine Biochemistry building and (c) the costs of the transfer of mobile staff to Oban and severance payments for non-mobile staff; and if he will itemise how the Natural Environmental Research Council has arrived at these estimates.

Mr. Jackson

In an earlier reply, my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) explained that there were strong scientific motives for the move of the Institute of Marine Biochemistry (IMB) to the Scottish Marine Biological association's Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory (DML) at Oban (Official Report, 24 November 1986, column 35). The scientific case has not altered, and although certain costs have increased, the substantial recurrent financial benefits resulting from the move will still offset the initial costs within five years. My right hon. Friend has thus no reason to advise the Natural Environmental Research council to review its plans in respect of the closure of the IMB and the transfer of its staff to Oban.

The cost of the new building at DML, Oban is within the estimates, and is nearing completion. The cost of necessary alterations to existing buildings will be above the original forecasts, but are still subject to contractural negotiations. A selling price for the IMB building in Aberdeen has been agreed with a puchaser and is in line with the previous estimate, but is still commercially sensitive.

The cost of transfers has fallen to £70,000, while that of severance payments has increase to £190,000, in the first years and £54,000 thereafter, because more staff have decided to leave IMB than previously estimated. These additional costs will be offset by greater savings in salary costs at Oban. The estimate of transfer and severance costs are now based on the known circumstances of individual staff members.