§ Mr. Raynsford
To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage (1) how many nurseries are currently being operated for the royal parks; and what was the position three years ago;
(2) for how long the nursery at Greenwich park has been disused; and what are his proposals for the area of the park formerly occupied by the nursery;
(3) if he will estimate the proportion of plants for use in the royal parks which are currently being imported from overseas suppliers; and what was the comparable figure three years ago;
(4) if he will provide an estimate of the amount of time being allocated by the contractor in each of the royal parks to the supervision of apprentices; and what were the figures three years ago.
§ Mr. Key
Responsibility for the subject of the question has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its chief executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from David Welch to Mr. Nick Raynsford, dated 24 May 1993
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for National Heritage has asked me to reply to your Written Parliamentary Questions asking:
- (i) how many nurseries are currently being operated for the Royal Parks; and what was the position three years ago;
- (ii) for how long the nursery at Greenwich Park has been disused;, and what are his proposals for the area of the park formerly occupied by the nursery;
- (iii) if he will estimate the proportion of plants for use in the Royal Parks which are currently being imported from overseas suppliers; and what was the comparable figure three years ago; and
- (iv) if he will provide an estimate of the amount of time being allocated by the contractor in each of the Royal Parks to the supervision of apprentices; and what were the figures three years ago.
Three years ago there were nurseries in Hyde, Regent's, Greenwich and Richmond Parks. Following the contracting out of the Royal Parks nursery production work in 1992 only the Hyde Park nursery remains in use by the contractors who also make use of their own premises.
The Greenwich Park nursery was de-commissioned in June 1992 and I am currently considering a proposal by our landscape architects to combine the site with the deer enclosure, to create an historic animal enclosure. In the short term, we are looking at the possible use of part of the nursery area by a local charity dealing with the rehabilitation of disabled people.
Less than 2 per cent. of all plants supplied to the Royal Parks each year are imported. Imports represent a very small 480W proportion of the cuttings propagated by our nursery contractor. Before June 1992, all plants were propagated within the Royal Parks.
Under the terms of the nursery and grounds maintenance contracts all apprentices are required to be supervised by a member of the contractors' own staff. Before 1992 apprentices were directly employed by the Department and supervised by Royal Parks staff. Information is not available on the time allocated. We have employed the former Director of Studies at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, to advise us on apprentice training. He will be speaking to each apprentice to ensure that the training they receive is appropriate and suitable. In addition we are talking to the Royal Horticultural society to negotiate some practical training at their gardens in Wisley.
As a former apprentice myself, I am very keen that our scheme should be managed in the best tradition.