§ Mr. Spellar
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for South Down (Mr. McGrady) of 13 June,Official Report, column 465, what reasons were given for rejecting an independent environmental protection agency for Northern Ireland. 
§ Mr. Moss
The Environment Service of the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland provides an integrated approach to the protection and conservation of the environment. The establishment of an independent agency dealing solely with environmental protection would prejudice that holistic approach. For this reason it was considered that a next steps agency, dealing with the full range of the current responsibilities of the Environment Service, would achieve many of the benefits of a separate protection agency and could be brought into being in a much shorter timescale.