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Pbi-Nsdo (Sale)

Volume 115: debated on Thursday 7 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will report progress on the sale of part of the Plant Breeding Institute and the National Seed Development Organisation.

An information memorandum offering for sale certain Plant Breeding Institute plant breeding assets and all the shares of the National Seed Development Organisation is being made available today.The memorandum, which is being issued by Lazard Brothers on the Government's behalf and which contains commercially confidential material, will be issued to serious prospective purchasers on completion of an undertaking to keep its contents confidential. Interested purchasers should contact Lazard Brothers.The principal PBI plant breeding assets to be sold are the breeding programmes for wheat, barley, potatoes and field beans, certain chemistry, pathology, physiology, statistics and computing activities and the site and buildings at Trumpington.

The PBI's plant science programmes, including molecular genetics and cytogenetics, and the oilseed rape breeding programme are not included in the sale. The plant science programmes will become part of the Agricultural and Food Research Council's new Institute of Plant Science Research, to be based at Norwich. Relevant programmes will continue on the Trumpington site until the end of March 1990. Following the sale of PBI plant breeding and NSDO, the Agricultural Genetics Company will take over the oilseed rape breeding programme on a basis agreed with the Agricultural and Food Research Council. The council will receive a financial return as new oilseed rape varieties are produced.

Prospective purchasers will have until 12 June to submit offers and are also being asked to supply relevant details about their present activities and future strategy. A short list of possible purchasers will thereafter be drawn up.

In finalising the sale, the Government will wish to be satisfied that the successful purchaser is committed to the continuation of plant breeding relevant to United Kingdom agriculture and horticulture as well as to research, investment and employment in the United Kingdom.