§ Mr. Gerald Howarth
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what further steps are to be taken to facilitate the privatisation of the national engineering laboratory.
§ Mr. Newton
We made it clear on 17 May that, following advice from Touche Ross management consultants and the NEL supervisory board, successful privatisation of NEL required restructuring and a new commercially oriented approach to business. Privatisation of NEL remains the Government's objective so that it can best respond to the needs of its customers in industry.
It is vitally important that a stable management framework be put in place so that the necessary changes to the laboratory can be introduced. To do this as quickly as possible we have decided that the laboratory should become a next steps agency with the objective of achieving commercial viability prior to privatisation.