HL Deb 14 December 1977 vol 387 cc2218-20WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What capabilities and responsibilities respectively are now possessed by the Secretaries of State for the Environment and Transport which were not possessed in sum on the 1st July 1970 by the then Ministers of Housing and Local Government, of Transport, and of Public Buildings and Works; which responsibilities previously discharged by the Ministers of Housing and Local Government, of Transport, and of Public Buildings and Works have now been devolved to other agencies.

Baroness BIRK

Since 1st July 1970 additional powers and responsibilities have been conferred on one or other of the Secretaries of State by the following enactments:

The United Kingdom's accession to the European Economic Community has conferred additional powers and responsibilities on both Secretaries of State. Finally, the Secretary of State for the Environment has assumed special responsibility for co-ordination of work on inner city policy.

Since 1st July 1970 there have been transferred to the Department of the Environment (1) the Central Unit on Environmental Pollution, formerly in the Cabinet Office; (2) the defence lands organisation, formerly part of the Ministry of Defence and now incorporated in the Property Services Agency; (3) various responsibilities for nature conservation work formerly with other Government Departments; (4) responsibility for the Development Fund and the Development Commission which formerly lay with Her Majesty's Treasury. Also since that date the Department of Transport has taken over from local authorities responsibility for driver and vehicle licensing.

Certain responsibilities have been transferred to other agencies. In particular (1) there has been a relaxation of a number of ministerial controls over local authorities; (2) certain responsibilities relating to the water industry have been devolved to other bodies under the Water Act 1973; (3) responsibility for certain housing work has been transferred to the Housing Corporation. If my noble friend wishes to have further information on points of particular interest to him, I shall be pleased to supply it on hearing from him.