§ Mr. Stinchcombe
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what independent evaluation there has been of the selection procedure for membership of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment; 107W
(2) if he will make a statement on the selection procedure for membership of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, with particular reference to (a) the criteria for selecting applicants, (b) the procedure by which individuals are invited to reply, (c) which Government Departments are involved and (d) the extent of public information available about the procedure. 
§ Mr. Meacher
The selection procedure for membership of the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) is carried out in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments Unit's "Guide on Public Appointments Procedure". This document is publicly available and a copy is in the Library.
In selecting applicants, our aim is to produce a committee with a range of scientific and technical expertise that will equip ACRE to deal effectively with its wider remit and the regulatory challenges ahead. In particular we are looking for expertise in the fields of genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, plant breeding, entomology, farmland ecology, wildlife/ biodiversity, agronomy and farming practice. Candidates needed to be acknowledged experts in their fields and be able to contribute effectively at ACRE meetings.
As advertisement was placed in the national press inviting anyone with suitable qualifications or experience to apply. In addition, my officials invited stakeholders to come forward with nominations. All those replying were sent a full application package and all those who subsequently applied were considered by an independent selection panel.
Other Government Departments involved in the procedure are the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Health and Safety Executive, Scottish Office, Welsh Office and the Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland). The appointments are made by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions acting jointly with Ministers in these Departments.