HL Deb 16 October 2002 vol 639 cc57-8WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Govenment:

Whether they consider the policy of concentrating horticultural research and development work at the Warwickshire site of Horticultural Research International is providing maximum benefits for British horticulture; what was the outcome of the quinquennial stage 1 review; whether horticulture is receiving a fair share of total government support for research and development; and what plans and funds exist for basic research in horticultural matters. [HL5876]

Lord Whitty

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) does not have a policy of concentrating horticultural R&D at the Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, site of Horticulture Research International (HRI). Work is placed at each of HRI's sites and with other contractors on the basis of the skills they are able to offer and the merits of their proposals.

The report of Stage 1 of the Quinquennial Review of Horticulture Research International (HRI) was published on 23 September. It can be consulted on the science page of Defra's website (www.defra.gov.uk) or in the Library of the House. Stakeholders have been invited to provide comments on the report by 18 November before Ministers take final decisions about HRI's future.

The Government are a substantial funder of horticultural research and development and spent over £18 million in this area in Great Britain in 2001–02. In the case of Defra, the horticulture budget accounts for 7 per cent (£9.9 million) of our total R&D budget (£131.3 million) this year. In cash terms, it is the third largest single programme after environmental protection and BSE.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland all fund basic research of relevance to horticulture.