Pesticides

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th November 1988.

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Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood , Clydesdale 12:00 am, 9th November 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement detailing the funding of research into the harmful effects of pesticides used in the Scottish agriculture industry.

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland participates in programmes for the surveillance of pesticide residues in retail foods and provides interested parties with information on the environmental impact of pesticides.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood , Clydesdale

Will the Minister acknowledge that his Government have announced cuts of £31·5 million in agricultural research in the United Kingdom, £2·37 million of which will be cut from Scottish agricultural research, which will have a devastating effect on scientists, jobs and their good work on behalf of consumers? Does he agree that those cuts will cost 79 jobs—10 per cent. of such jobs? Does he also agree that the research is into the safe use of pesticides in agriculture to make food free from pesticide pollution? Will he tell the House how he can support such ridiculous cuts?

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

The hon. Gentleman's question was about research funding for pesticides in Scotland. There have been no cuts, because there is no research funded in Scotland for that purpose. The hon. Gentleman talked about cuts in other research. We propose that additional resources for research in Scotland should come from those who benefit from it—the private sector. The hon. Gentleman makes a fundamental mistake if he assumes that making those who can afford to contribute pay is making cuts.

Photo of Mrs Ray Michie Mrs Ray Michie , Argyll and Bute

Will the Minister please define "near market research" in terms of agricultural research and development?

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

I am not entirely certain what the hon. Lady is complaining about.

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

If the hon. Lady is not complaining about the Government's policy, I am delighted. I should have thought that she would support our policy of encouraging those who have a commercial interest and who will benefit from research carried out by the Government to make a greater contribution. She is quick to come to the House and argue for the interests of her constituents, particularly those who are involved in agriculture. She should welcome our policy, which will make more resources available to those who need help and support.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths , Edinburgh South

Clearly, the Minister is ill informed about the previous subject. Is he aware that the Barnes review, with its threat to near market research, is threatening institutes, such as the Moredun research institute and King's buildings in Edinburgh, is threatening to cut 1,500 jobs nationally and £30 million off the budget, although many of these institutes have already gone out and got a great deal of sponsorship and support from private industry, and is threatening to deal a mortal blow to them?

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

If the research is worth while to the industries which will benefit from it, surely they will be prepared to make a greater contribution than at present. In asserting that the money will not be forthcoming, the hon. Gentleman is asserting that the research is not of value, and I cannot possibly agree with that.