§ Mr. Knowles
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when the Government's response to the eighth report from the Environment Committee (HC 474–1) will be published.
§ Mr. Baldry
We have today published our response to the Environment Select Committee's report on eco-labelling (Cm 1720). We welcome this comprehensive and helpful report from the Select Committee, which is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate on eco-labelling, and are grateful for its endorsement of much of the work we have done towards the development of an official scheme of environmental labelling.
We are particularly pleased that the Committee has chosen to back our quest for agreement on an acceptable European Community-wide scheme of eco-labelling. We have aired the Committee's concerns in the continuing negotiations over the scheme and are optimistic that these will be addressed in the final text of the Regulation.
The Government's response backs many of the specific recommendations made by the Committee. In particular, my colleagues at the Department of Trade and Industry have given a commitment to amending the Trade Descriptions Act at the earliest opportunity to put beyond doubt that the Act embraces environmental claims.
The response outlines action that we have already taken to address some of the Committee's concerns. By commissioning further logo designs and market testing them against the Commission's proposed logo, we have persuaded the Commission to undertake further work to ensure that a more appropriate logo is adopted. The UK is also working with the Commission to develop detailed guidance to assist in the development of product criteria on a cradle to grave basis.
I would also echo the Committee's praise for the immensely valuable contribution the National Advisory Group on Eco-Labelling have made to the development of our ideas on eco-labelling over the past year.