§ Mr. Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the answer of 12 February 1998,Official Report, column 318, to the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Mr. Taylor), on strategic environmental assessment, for what reason the Government have decided not to put the proposed Directive to the Council of Ministers. 
§ Mr. Raynsford
The Government support the principle of strategic environmental assessment, but we are not convinced that the proposed Directive is the best way to ensure that environmental concerns are integrated into Member States' different strategic decision making processes. A number of other Member States share our concerns over the scope and practicality of the proposal, and those whose Presidencies will follow ours have indicated that they would not continue any negotiations which we might begin. We have a full and well balanced environment programme for the Presidency, and we would rather devote our resources to matters where real progress can be achieved.