HC Deb 29 July 1997 vol 299 cc192-3W
20. Mrs. Brinton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to extend the range of organisations placed under the requirement to take Agenda 21 on sustainable development as an instrumental part of their responsibilities. [9367]

Mr. Meacher

There is no mandatory requirement on any organisation to take on Agenda 21. However, a wide range of organisations, including central and local government, business and the voluntary sector, are committed to take forward the Agenda 21 agreement on sustainable development.

The Government accept their leadership role and are determined to implement sustainable development through their policies. We are introducing a new series of measures which will deliver this effectively throughout central Government Departments.

In relation to local government, last month, at the UN special session on the environment in New York, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister acknowledged the pivotal role of local authorities in promoting Local Agenda 21 and called on all UK local authorities to adopt Local Agenda 21 strategies by 2000. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister followed this up at last week's Local Government Association conference by announcing that a joint central-local government document will be produced giving practical guidance on how to put such strategies in place.

Businesses are subject to a range of environmental regulations which themselves are part of the UK Government's whole sustainable development package. We are working with them in other ways to promote sustainable development in the business sector. Extensive support to help companies improve their environmental performance is freely available through the Government's energy efficiency and environmental technology best practice programmes and network of regional contacts. The uptake of formal environmental management systems—that is International Standard Organisation 14001 and eco-management and audit scheme—has also been extensively promoted and leading companies are responding positively. We should like all UK businesses with over 250 employees to have a publicly declared environmental policy and report to their stakeholders on progress.