HC Deb 16 January 2001 vol 361 cc136-7W
Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to conduct a Quinquennial Review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [146066]

Ms Quin

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is managed by the Board of Trustees established by the National Heritage Act 1983 and has the status of an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body. I am today announcing the Quinquennial Review of this body which will evaluate its performance and status. The Review also meets a commitment under the Government's Better Quality Services initiative which requires Departments to review their services and activities over a five-year period to decide how best to improve quality and value for money.

The terms of reference for the Review are as follows: to conduct an evaluation of the performance of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since the last review in 1995; as part of the evaluation, to pay particular attention to the effectiveness of postgraduate horticultural training and the quality of public education activities; and to take account of the conclusions of the Science Audit being carried out in March 2001; to consider in the light of this evaluation and the views of customers and other stakeholders whether NDPB status remains the most cost-effective way of achieving its own and Departmental aims, as well as Government-wide aims such as those relating to science policy and Modernising Government; if the review concludes that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew should continue to function as a NDPB, then to consider what changes, if any, are required to its operating framework in the light of the findings of the Review. If, however, the review concludes that a different delivery system would provide high quality, more effective and better value for money services, to set out the rationale and to recommend appropriate options to Ministers.

The review will be conducted by a Review Team attached to MAFF's Chief Scientist's Group, working in consultation with the Cabinet Office, the Treasury and other Government Departments as appropriate.

Interested parties are invited to submit their views to the Review Team by Monday 9 April 2001. Details of how to contact them are contained in the MAFF press notice issued today or on our website http://www.maff.gov.uk.

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