Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th December 1994.

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Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton 12:00 am, 8th December 1994

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what sum was spent by his Department on research for the last three years; what percentage this was of the total annual budget; what is the budget for the forthcoming year; what percentage this is of his total budget; and what additional new research is to be undertaken.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

The Ministry has spent £121.5 million, £132.9 million and £137.3 million respectively. This represents 17 per cent., 18 per cent. and 19 per cent. of the total annual budgets for those years. Funding for a wide range of research and development in 1995–96 will be around £140 million or 17 per cent. of the total budget.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

The increase which the Minister announced is obviously welcome. What part of it applies to the west country? Will he ensure that aspects of research on grasslands, which are important in terms of milk production, will continue?

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

My right hon. Friend refers to the £140 million, which represents a maintenance of our resources for research and development following successful negotiations by my right hon. Friend the Minister. We do not allocate research and development funds by region, but the type of project on silage to which my right hon. Friend refers will benefit not only west country farmers but dairy farmers throughout the United Kingdom. Such work is safeguarded by our excellent settlement on research and development.

Mr. Robert Hughes:

Has the Minister commissioned, or will he commission, research into the use of the flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate, which is now used in almost every manufactured food product, including bread? It has no nutritional value and there is strong evidence that it builds up a severe allergy that is affecting many people. Is not the time now right to take a proper look at the matter?

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

I am not aware of any research that I have commissioned on that subject. On food safety, great care is taken before an ingredient is allowed to be used. However, if the hon. Gentleman knows of research that he believes should be evaluated, I shall ensure that a scientist does that job.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

Is my hon. Friend aware that at Mylnefield in Tayside, we have one of the finest crop research centres in existence? It is important that it continues its good work, particularly its research into raspberries and other crop fruits but also into potatoes, which are vital to the Tayside economy.

Photo of Michael Jack Michael Jack , Fylde

I am glad that my hon. Friend gives yet another indication of how Government-funded research is helping to boost prospects, particularly for British horticulture. As we said earlier, the opportunity for our raspberries—[Interruption.] If hon. Members are not careful, I shall blow them one. The work being undertaken is resulting in increased fruit consumption. I hope that the research to which my hon. Friend referred will enable our raspberry growers to take full advantage of those commercial possibilities.