§ Mr. Chris Patten
[pursuant to his answer, 23 November, 1989, Official Report, Vol. 162, columns 16–17]: The Government have re-examined their proposals for the constitution of the joint committee of the proposed country bodies which I announced on 23 November was to be established to deal with questions with a Great Britain or international dimension and certain scientific issues. In that statement I 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 alow for the chairman of the joint committee to be directly appointed by the Secretary of State.