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Handicapped Persons (Telephones)

Volume 977: debated on Tuesday 29 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of telephones installed in the homes of handicapped and elderly people by local authorities in the past 10 years.

It is estimated that between 1 January 1973 and 31 March 1979, 4,100 such installations were made in Scotland. Information on earlier years is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland over what period he now expects the amalgamation of the Scottish Plant Breeding Station and the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute at Mylnefield to be phased; and if he considers that timetable to be adequate.

The time scale for the transfer will be dependent on a number of factors, such as the rate of provision of new buildings at Mylnefield. It is too early to set out a firm programme but, in consultation with the staff of the institutes, the two directors will be drawing up their plans for the implementation of the amalgamation.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his latest estimate of the cost of the removal of the Scottish Plant Breeding Station from its present site at Pentlandfield and its amalgamation with the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute at Mylnefield, Dundee.

The estimates have not been revised since I replied to a question on this subject from the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) on 18 December 1979.—[Vol. 976, c. 169–70.]

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received since his statement of 19 December 1979 on the amalgamation of the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute and the Scottish Plant Breeding Station; and if he will make a statement.

My noble Friend the Minister of State has received letters from the chairman of the Scottish Plant Breeding Station section of the Institution of Professional Civil Servants and from the chairman of the staff side of the Agricultural Research Service. The former suggests that moving the Scottish Plant Breeding Station will be more expensive than developing it where it now is. The latter refers to the effect of the decision on staff morale at the Scottish Plant Breeding Station and makes proposals for staff participation in the planning of the amalgamation and the management of the combined institute.I am satisfied that the cost of transfer will not be more expensive than developing the two institutes on their present sites. Representatives of my Department met the chairman of the staff side and representatives of the staff of both institutes on 18 January. I understand that useful discussions took place, with a substantial measure of agreement on arrangements for developing proposals for the phased implementation of the amalgamation.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will guarantee the offer of jobs at the new Mylnefield centre for plant breeding and crop research to all those scientific staff currently employed at the Scottish Plant Breeding Station, Pentlandfield.

The level of employment will depend primarily on the research programmes approved for the combined institute but it is expected that the new governing body will be able to offer jobs at Mylnefield to all the scientific staff of the Scottish Plant Breeding Station.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will provide an assurance that there will be no reduction in the facilities available for Scottish plant breeding or in the standards of research at the proposed centre at Mylnefield, following the amalgamation of the Scottish Plant Breeding Station and the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute.

The objective of the amalgamation is to provide the facilities and scientific environment that will lead to an improvement in standards of crop research.