Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 44

Supplementary memorandum from John Denham MP, Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills


  I read with interest the transcript of the evidence which Ian Pearson and his three Ministerial colleagues gave to your Committee on 21 April.

  I thought it might be helpful to your Committee to highlight some of the steps which my department is taking in relation to biosecurity.

  We welcome the publication of Sir John Beringer's report on the governance of the Institute of Animal Health (IAH), and BBSRC's prompt statement about its commitment to making progress following the Anderson and Beringer reports. BBSRC had previously recognised that the governance of IAH needed to be re-examined, which is why it commissioned the Beringer report.

  As a short term measure BBSRC has accepted a request from the IAH Governing Body that it should become the sole corporate trustee for IAH. I welcome this more direct assumption of responsibility for IAH by BBSRC. BBSRC and IAH are seeking to achieve this change by the summer recess, although the timing is also dependent on the Charity Commission.

  In relation to the medium term, the next step is for the Government to respond to the recommendations in the Anderson report about a strategic overview of exotic animal disease research. DIUS is committed to working urgently with Defra to help provide an appropriate way forward on this. DIUS fully recognises its responsibility to provide modern animal health research facilities which allow the highest standards of biosecurity to be maintained, given the variety of challenges in terms of animal health which this country will face in the years ahead.

May 2008

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