HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 cc247-9W
Mr. Charles Clarke

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the names of the specialists from the commercial sector appointed to advise him on how best to achieve a secure future for the Central Science Laboratory, as announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 9 December 1996. [37790]

Mr. Rooker

[holding answer 6 April 1998]: Following the announcement by the previous Administration on 9 December 1996 a tendering exercise was launched to identify consultants to advise on the issue. These procedures were suspended over the period of the General Election and not proceeded with thereafter. Subsequently, it was decided by management that the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) would benefit from a period of consolidation at its new York laboratory, following the intense period of examination during the Prior Options review and other external management consultants' investigations.

CSL appointed a Commercial Director from the private sector in September 1997 who is charged with taking forward initiatives in this area.

Mr. Charles Clarke

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment his Department has made of the implications of the case High Table Ltd. versus Horst (1997) for redundancy payments for mobile staff employed by the Central Science Laboratory in Norwich in the event that such staff refuse to relocate to York; and what are the financial implications for the Central Science Laboratory. [37949]

Mr. Rooker

The Department is aware of the High Table versus Horst case. Our legal advice is that it would not have a material impact on the assessments for relocation costs that are being made in connection with the possible relocation of the work undertaken at the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), Norwich. This being the case, there are no financial implications for CSL.

Mr. Charles Clarke

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many staff were employed by the Central Science Laboratory at(a) Slough, (b) Harpenden and (c) Worplesdon in January 1995; and how many were still employed by the CSL, at York, in January 1998, broken down (i) into (1) scientists and (2) non-scientists and (ii) into (A) mobile and (B) non-mobile grades. [37766]

Mr. Rooker

[holding answer 6 April 1998]: The information requested is as follows; although I should alert my hon. Friend that the information for the two dates is not directly comparable.

January 1995
January 1998
Slough Harpenden Worplesdon York
Total staff 235 168 50 181
of which:
Scientists 147 102 38 148
Non scientists 88 66 12 33
Mobiles 128 87 26 169
Non mobiles 107 81 24 12

A number of factors have influenced the level of staffing within the Central Science Laboratory over the period January 1995 to January 1998.

Amongst mobile grades there were 6 retirements at normal retirement age and one medical retirement during this period. In addition there were two voluntary early retirement exercises conducted to reduce staff levels as a result of declining funding and where it was clear that the posts would not be required for the future. 26 staff in mobile grades, based at Slough, Harpenden or Worplesdon, took early retirement between January 1995 and March 1996, prior to the relocation exercise which commenced in September 1996.

Mr. Charles Clarke

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answers of 5 March 1998,Official Report, column 728, 31 March 1998, Official Report, column 506 and 7 April 1998, Official Report, column 216, what assessment he has made of the discrepancy between the proportion of scientific staff who transferred from Tony, Aberdeen to York and the proportion of all staff in mobile grades which have transferred to York. [39001]

Mr. Rooker

[holding answer 20 April 1998]: The circumstances of the closure of the Torry laboratory differ from those of the major relocation exercise to occupy the new Central Science Laboratory (CSL) at Sand Hutton, York.

With the closure of the Tony laboratory, funding for work which was of particular relevance to Scotland was transferred to the Scottish Office and work programmes and associated staff were transferred to the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen University and the Scottish Office Marine Laboratory.

There was no such transfer of funding or staff for the work that was relocated to York from a number of CSL sites, including Slough, Worplesdon and Harpenden.

Mr. Ainger

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what performance targets he has set for the Central Science Laboratory in 1998–99; and if he will make a statement.[40796]

Dr. John Cunningham

I have set the Central Science Laboratory the following performance targets for 1998–99.

Efficiency 1 per cent. improvement in utilisation of productive time.

Delivery of Science At least 90 per cent. of work completed to time and within budget; Achieve a mean score of 3.5 on a scale of 0 to 5 for the assessment of customer satisfaction using the established methodology; Proportion of project milestones achieved to be at or greater than 82 per cent. (MAFF commissioned projects).

Financial 100 per cent. recovery of full costs after allowing for relocation costs; To operate within the net cost allocation as agreed by the MAFF Management Board.