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Research And Development

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the financial resources currently available for agricultural research.

The total of Government expenditure on research and development in agriculture and food planned for 1987–88 is approximately £195 million. In addition, much relevant research is done by the industry, particularly the food industry and industries which provide agricultural inputs such as agrochemicals and veterinary pharmaceuticals.

When does my hon. Friend expect to come to conclusions about the future level of public funding for agricultural research and development, especially in the light of an internal review recently conducted?

The internal review is still being conducted, and we have held informal discussions with various bodies, such as the Agricultural and Food Research Council, development councils, producer organisations, research associations and the IPCS.

Is the Minister aware of the deep concern in Scotland at the continuing reduction in research facilities? Is he aware of the threat currently hanging over Torry research station in Grampian, and will he take action to ensure that we do not see the loss of this organisation?

I am aware that there is concern in many areas about the new shifts of research, and about areas in which research is going down. That is partly because we are looking at research into diversification and extensification, rather than, as formerly, purely producing more and more food. I shall look into the hon. Lady's question and write to her.