HC Deb 26 July 1999 vol 336 cc10-1W
Mr. White

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what were the findings of the Financial Management and Policy Review on the Darwin Advisory Committee; and what is the Government's response. [93284]

Mr. Meale

The Darwin Advisory Committee advises Ministers on the overall direction, and selection of projects, for the Darwin Initiative grant scheme, which helps developing countries conserve their biodiversity through partnership with British experts. As a non-departmental public body, the Committee is subject to a financial management and policy review every five years and my Department appointed in-house consultants in February this year to carry this out. The Review has been completed, and found in the first stage of its work that there was a continuing need for the functions provided by the Darwin Advisory Committee and that the Committee was the most efficient and cost-effective means of fulfilling those functions.

The second stage of the Review considered the performance of the Committee against its terms of reference, the continued relevance of the terms of reference, the effectiveness of the Committee's working methods and whether the administrative support meets desired standards. The overall impression of this stage of the Review was favourable, although some recommendations were made to enhance the running of the programme. In particular, the Review recommended that now the Initiative has been running for six years, it is timely to take stock of the direction of the Initiative and its principles.

We accept almost all the findings of the Review and have drawn up a plan for future action taking up its recommendations. The Review and the Government response are both available on my Department's website www.detr.gov.uk and copies are being placed in the Library of the House.