§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 10 April 2000]: In autumn 1998, my Department requested the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to review the effectiveness of the species protection Schedules to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The JNCC has recently concluded its review and advises that the Schedules have been generally effective in deterring persecution of the species listed, that they should be retained to give legal protection to appropriate animals and plants, and also makes a number of recommendations.
I am already actively considering all of the issues raised in the JNCC's recommendations. Some, like the recommendation concerning enforcement of wildlife 444W legislation, are already being addressed through the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill. With other aspects, I recognise that improvements to protection for threatened species in the wider countryside beyond the provisions of this Bill may be warranted and am considering what might be appropriate. Some measures may not necessarily require primary legislation, including JNCC's recommendation concerning the Quinquennial Review of the Schedules. I look forward to receiving JNCC's advice at the next Quinquennial Review in due course.
I also agree the problem caused by invasive alien species does need to be addressed and we plan to review the effectiveness of policy concerning non-native species which can present an ecological threat to the United Kingdom's indigenous wildlife.