§ Mr. Neil Hamilton
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made in the work of the independent panel of scientific experts on risk assessment. 
§ Mr. Freeman
I have been asked to reply. The panel receives papers from time to time on individual topics and more general matters of principle and advises the deregulation task force. The task force's first report recommended that a risk assessment should be required for all regulatory proposals affecting business; that Ministers should be required personally to sign off all risk assessments; and that no regulatory proposals should be considered collectively by Ministers without a certificate signed by the responsible Minister that he has read the risk assessment and that he believes that the balance between cost and benefit has been approximately struck. The Government have accepted these recommendations and new guidance on risk assessment methodology for use by Government Departments is currently being developed.