HC Deb 08 December 2000 vol 359 cc10-1W
Mrs. Ellman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Government will carry out a financial, management and policy review of the Environment Agency. [142159]

Mr. Meacher

I am today announcing the start of the first Financial, Management and Policy Review of the Environment Agency.

The review will be in two stages. Stage 1 will look at the role, functions, organisation and sponsorship of the Agency. Stage 2 will review its efficiency and effectiveness. I expect the review process to be completed by the end of next summer.

The terms of reference for the review are:

To examine the principal functions of the Environment Agency for England and Wales and the key tasks undertaken to perform them. The review will assess: the extent to which the functions of the Agency are necessary for the achievement of the aims of Central Government and the National Assembly for Wales to protect and enhance the environment in line with their overall commitment to sustainable development; whether the Agency remains the appropriate body to perform those functions; whether a single England and Wales Agency is still appropriate post Welsh devolution and the creation of the National Assembly for Wales; options for improving the delivery of the Agency's functions; and will make recommendations to Central Government and Assembly Ministers.

The review will be informed by recent relevant reviews and inquiries, including recent Select Committee reports on the Environment Agency and on Environmental Legislation and Farming, and by the ongoing review of legislation affecting the Agency.

The review will be based on the assumption that Central Government and Assembly policies continue to recognise the importance of an integrated approach, where appropriate, to the protection and enhancement of the environment.

An important part of the review is seeking external views about the Environment Agency and its work. To support this process we are today publishing a consultation paper, a copy of which is being placed in the Library of the House.