Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Chairman, East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research (D 14)

  I a writing on behalf of our Trustees in connection with the further inquiry into Horticulture Research International (HRI) by the Agriculture Committee.

  This Trust has, for the past 70 years or so, supported horticultural research, especially that relating to perennial crops. As owners of the 500 acre site and laboratories for 250 personnel presently used by Horticulture Research International at East Malling, and as contributors of approximately £650,000 annually to research, mainly at East Malling, we have an interest in the well-being of HRI and its ability to produce research findings for uptake by the horticulture industry.

  The importance of an effective programme of basic and strategic research to underpin more applied, development work is well established. Historically, government has been largely responsible for funding this basic/strategic research, through MAFF and BBSRC, while industry has increasingly undertaken responsibility for funding the development of this research for the benefit of industry.

  The very difficult financial position of HRI has, to a large extent been due to the continual decline in financial support from MAFF though, of course, failure to meet target income from commercialisation of its research is another factor contributing to HRI's funding shortfall.

  The horticultural industry would not be able adequately to compete internationally without a strong research base and HRI is clearly the organisation most suited to serve this industry. However, our experience of the situation at the East Malling site suggests that HRI's management structure is not the most appropriate for the efficient running of an organisation with several dispersed sites. We believe that a more effective site-based management than exists at present would improve research output and contact with industry. This is a matter which we are discussing with senior HRI management.

  Despite its present difficulties, we consider that HRI carries out much excellent research and the organisation continues to receive our full support.

16 November 2000

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