HL Deb 16 November 1992 vol 540 cc445-6

The Earl of Halsbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to implement the proposal from the Natural History Museum, and other organisations, in response to the Prime Minister's announcement of the Darwin initiative for the survival of species at the UNCED Conference in Rio de Janeiro in June.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Strathclyde)

My Lords, consultations with interested institutions and organisations, including the Natural History Museum, are continuing and we expect to make a statement later in the year on the structure of the initiative and the activities to be undertaken as part of it.

I am pleased to be able to tell noble Lords that provision has been made in this year's public expenditure survey for the Darwin initiative of £1 million for 1993–94, £2 million for 1994–95 and £3 million for 1995–96.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. May I ask for more details of his reply relative to securing the future of the National History Museum and its continuing ability to provide international leadership in the field of biodiversity? What action will Her Majesty's Government take to provide it with modern storage and research facilities, according to its latest corporate plan, not yet published? What benefits might it expect to receive from the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, in which he announced that he intends to rescue the construction industry by placing massive orders on public account?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I am not sure that a question on the future of the Natural History Museum is the one on the Order Paper. However we very much want to work with the Natural History Museum to further the cause of biodiversity.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, is the Minister aware that I warmly welcome the announcement of the financial provision over the next three years? Will he say a little more about the consultation? What opportunities to take part will there be for non-scientific bodies interested in all aspects of the follow-up of the Rio Conference so that there will be maximum consultation with interested parties?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the noble Lord is right, there are many different organisations, not just scientific ones, which we shall wish to continue to consult. We recognise that many different people have an interest in the subject.

The Earl of Lauderdale

My Lords, for those noble Lords who are not scientists, will my noble friend tell us what is biodiversity?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, biodiversity is the study of the different species that occur in our natural environment.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, is the Minister satisfied that the figures he announced are enough for the Natural History Museum and others to implement that most important initiative announced at Rio by the Prime Minister?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, we believe that the money is enough. We have not yet decided how that money will be shared out. That will be decided in a report that will be made before the end of the year.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the Minister's announcement about funding is, of course, welcome. Will he say a bit more about the report which will be made before the end of the year? Who will it be made to and upon what will the decisions be based?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, we shall have to see the report before I can say what it is going to report. It will be given to the House. Exactly how it will be given to the House will depend upon the importance of the report.

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