HC Deb 29 January 1997 vol 289 cc287-8W
Sir Patrick McNair-Wilson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of Horticulture Research International. [13754]

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Following the prior options review of Horticulture Research International, the Government have decided that the organisation should remain in the public sector, for the present, as an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by MAFF.

HRI has achieved a great deal since its creation in 1990 and its high reputation is well deserved. Nevertheless, we should strive to secure further improvements where possible for the benefit of both HRI and the horticulture industry. The Government's substantial restructuring investment in the body provides an excellent foundation. The Government have also agreed a number of steps to help improve efficiency on a wide range of research establishments remaining in the public sector. My Department will be working closely with HRI management over the coming year to resolve outstanding operational and staffing matters and to develop the body's science strategy and business plan. This will provide the basis of a report to ministers at the end of 1997. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has made a statement today on the broad outcome of the programme of prior options reviews of public sector research establishments, which refers to the general policy on the timing of prior options reviews.

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