Select Committee on Science and Technology Fourth Report




4 APRIL 2000

By the Select Committee appointed to consider Science and Technology.




  In November 1999 we reported on Non-Food Crops (1st Report 1999-2000, HL Paper 5). We observed that, besides being a form of diversification for farmers, non-food crops offer a wealth of opportunities for novel and sustainable inputs to a range of industries. We recommended an interdepartmental committee, chaired by the Minister for Science, to co-ordinate Government thinking on the possible contribution of non-food crops to policy objectives, and to broaden the focus of attention from agricultural supply to industrial opportunity and demand.

  The Government have responded, and their response is appended to this Report. They have agreed to set up a joint forum, involving Government, industry and researchers, to review developments and advise on priorities. We welcome this, but we do not think it is incompatible with, or a substitute for, the appointment of a ministerial "champion".

  The Government intend the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to take the lead in convening this joint initiative, rather than the Minister for Science. This suggests to us that the main message of our Report, that non-food crops present important opportunities requiring a transdepartmental approach to policy, has not really been taken on board. We note that the response itself is the product of discussion between no fewer than six Whitehall departments, plus the devolved administrations: as Lady Hogg, who chaired our inquiry, put it when the House debated our Report on 3rd March, "Such lists are always an illustration of the need for central drive". The forum is however a step in the right direction and we wish it well.

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000