HL Deb 20 December 1989 vol 514 c335WA
Lord Newall

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have considered the cost of appointing an independent chairman to the proposed joint committee of the country nature conservation agencies due to be established under forthcoming legislation.

Lord Hesketh

The Government have re-examined their proposals for the constitution of the joint committee of the proposed country bodies which my right hounourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 23rd November was to be established to deal with questions with Great Britain or international dimension and certain scientific issues. In that statement my right honourable friend said that the Government had not been persuaded by the Nature Conservancy Council's argument that the committee should have an independent chairman appointed by the Government. That was the only major point on which the Government dissented from the advice submitted by the council.

Having considered further representations from the council and others, we have reached the conclusion that an independent chairmanship would have advantages in maintaining the confidence of the wider scientific community about the standards to be set for the new country bodies, and ensuring that matters of national and international importance for nature conservation are viewed from the correct perspective. The Government will therefore bring forward the necessary amendments to the Environmental Protection Bill at Committee stage to allow for the chairman of the joint committee to be directly appointed by the Secretary of State.