HC Deb 11 November 1996 vol 285 cc15-6W
Mr. Bayley

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on progress with market testing the first tranche of Government scientific laboratories. [1316]

Mr. Ian Taylor

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade placed in the Library of the House on 26 January 1996, a copy of the guidelines on the conduct of prior option reviews. These confirmed that research establishments would have their functions rigorously tested to decide whether the function was required at all, and whether there was scope for privatising, contracting out (which could include market testing), merging establishments or transferring work between them.

Announcements have subsequently been made: (i) to privatise ADAS, the Building Research Establishment, and the Royal Observatories; (ii) to create as new executive agencies within the public sector, the Directorate of Fisheries Research, the Fisheries Research Services, and the Forestry Commission Research Division; and (iii) that the Central Laboratory for the Research Councils, the National Weights and Measures Laboratory, the Health and Safety Laboratory, and the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency retain their current status within the public sector.

Information on the market testing of individual functions of each establishment is not held centrally.