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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

I wish to update the House on recent developments related to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

I announced the start of a review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on 16 July 2009, Official Report, column 55WS. Today I am publishing the report of this review.

The review was part of a Government recommendation that public bodies are subjected to periodic study to ensure that they are still delivering high quality services and are adequately resourced. The review was carried out by independent consultants led by Sir Neil Chalmers, Warden of Wadham College Oxford, on behalf of DEFRA, who gathered evidence from individuals and organisations with an interest in the work of the RBG, Kew.

The report focused on whether Kew has been effectively fulfilling its statutory obligations under the National Heritage Act 1983 since 2001 (the date of the last review) considered sustainable funding options in the present economic climate, examined the effectiveness of the delivery of Kew’s science programme, issues of maintaining the heritage buildings, improving the visitor experience and aspects of governance and sponsorship by the Government. It concluded that Kew has been fulfilling its statutory functions since 2001 and that DEFRA should remain lead sponsor for Kew but put forward a number of recommendations for financial and organisational remedies to sustain Kew as a centre of world-class science and as a major, iconic visitor attraction and a world heritage site.

The report does not constitute DEFRA policy. DEFRA officials will now examine the recommendations proposed in the report in more detail and will explore their financial and organisational implications, including consultation with other Government Departments. I intend to publish a Government response later in the year.

Copies of the full report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and an electronic copy can be downloaded from the DEFRA website at:

www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/about/partners/kew/index.htm