HL Deb 09 February 1998 vol 585 cc141-2WA
Lord Gladwin of Clee

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the future of the Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee. [HL 358]

Lord Donoughue

The Sugar Beet Research and Education Committee (SBREC) has been the subject of a non-departmental public body prior options review. Departments are asked to look at the functions the body carries out; to assess whether they are still needed; and to decide whether the current arrangements provide the best way of carrying them out.

The SBREC has carried out its functions well, and we are very grateful to its past and present chairman and members, who have given valuable service to the industry over the years. Although the committee has no statutory basis, its work is linked to certain statutory arrangements which date back to 1938 and require the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to be closely involved with the research programme. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food believes there is no need for the Government to be so closely involved in these arrangements, but that there is a case for industry-funded research and education to continue, and that it would be more appropriate, if the industry agrees, for these to be under the aegis of a development council for sugar beet. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is therefore consulting interested parties on a proposal to establish such a council to take on the functions currently undertaken by the SBREC.

In deciding whether to establish a development council, Ministers have to follow the procedures in the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947. In particular, they need to be satisfied that its establishment is desired by a substantial number of persons engaged in the industry.