§ Mr. Ernie Ross
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the review of licensing arrangements for the dredging of marine minerals. 
§ Mr. Macdonald
Currently the Crown Estate, as owners of the seabed, issue licences for minerals dredging. A prerequisite to the issue of a licence is a favourable "Government View" (GV) issued by the Scottish Office which co-ordinates and considers the views of Government Departments and responses to public consultation on the proposals before issuing a GV.
After consideration of all the responses to earlier consultation on the review of the GV procedure, we have concluded that the way forward is to introduce statutory procedures for the better regulation of marine minerals dredging in Scotland to replace the non-statutory GV procedure. The new arrangements would be based on the Secretary of State for Scotland being responsible for administering, monitoring and enforcing the new dredging consents; those consents being subject to regular review; the costs of administering the new statutory procedures being recovered from operators; and a statutory right of appeal against refusal. Although to date there has only been limited dredging activity in Scotland, pending legislation an interim scheme will be introduced and administered by the Scottish Office in place of the Crown Estate's current role in the GV process.