HC Deb 19 April 2000 vol 348 cc496-7W
Mr. Burgon

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what are the findings of the Financial Management and Policy Review of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. [120298]

Mr. Meacher

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution advises Ministers on dangers to the environment, environmental issues and priorities, and ways of integrating environmental concerns and objectives with other, economic and social, objectives in order to achieve sustainable development. As a non-departmental public body, the Commission is subject to a financial management and policy review every five years and my Department appointed in-house consultants last January to undertake this work. The Review, which comprised two stages, is now complete. Stage 1 found that there is a continuing need for the Royal Commission to advise Government on environmental policy and sustainable development and that the Commission provided the most efficient and cost-effective means of delivering this.

The second stage of the Review considered the performance of the Commission in greater depth, making recommendations on the Commission's relationship with Government; its strategic planning arrangements, including processes for reviewing performance and auditing impact; internal organisation and working methods, financial management, staffing and the role of the secretariat; and membership arrangements, including appointments. The overall conclusion of the Review is very positive and, though a number of recommendations are intended to enhance effectiveness, the Review commends the Commission for action which it has already taken to update and improve its working methods.

We accept all the findings of the Review and are developing an implementation strategy for future action taking up its Recommendations. The Review is available on my Department's website www.detr.gov.uk and copies are being placed in the Library of the House. A detailed Implementation Strategy is being prepared, which will also be available on the DETR website.