§ Mr. Morley
As Executive Agencies of DEFRA the arrangement between the Department and its three science laboratories—Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and Central Science Laboratory (CSL)—are governed by their respective Framework Agreements. Executive agencies are subject to quinquennial reviews which evaluate their performance and organisational arrangements. All three agencies are due quinquennial reviews this year. In accordance with best practice active consideration is being given to a joint exercise to ensure realisation of the full potential of these reviews to help improve the way service and functions are delivered. I hope to be able to announce further details soon. In addition the three agencies are the subject of periodic science assessments carried out by teams of independent and respected experts in the relevant fields. A science assessment was conducted on CEFAS in 1999 and similar assessments are currently under way at VLA and CSL.
DEFRA has concordats with the research councils, such as BBSRC, NERC and MRC, aimed at ensuring effective working arrangements. The research councils periodically assess their research institutes for scientific quality, strategic relevance of science and knowledge transfer; BBSRC are currently carrying out such an assessment. In addition to this Horticulture Research International, a DEFRA sponsored NDPB but included in the BBSRC assessment exercise, is to undergo a quinquennial review in 2002 which was announced in December 2001.