HC Deb 21 January 2002 vol 378 cc631-2W
Mr. Peter Ainsworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many environmental appraisals have been published by his Department since 1 January 2001; and if he will list the last four; [29018]

(2) when the last occasion was on which he requested an environmental appraisal before making a policy decision; [29019]

(3) what procedures his Department has to ensure environmental appraisals are undertaken prior to (a) administrative and (b) policy decisions being made; [29020]

(4) what plans his Department has to appraise the environmental implications of its Spending Review submission to the Treasury; [29021]

(5) how many officials from his Department have attended the environmental appraisal and integration into policy training course run by the Civil Service College. [29022]

Maria Eagle

With the creation of the Department for Work and Pensions arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the new Department continues to meet the Government's sustainable development objectives.

We have actively embraced the social, economic and environmental elements of sustainable development, and are taking these aspects forward together within an integrated strategy. The Department has a Grade 2 Senior Accountable Official for sustainable development (SD) and has established an SD steering group to take ownership of, and drive forward, sustainability across the Department. The steering group includes senior "SD Champions" from each area of the Department's business.

A corporate SD team has been established also to own the Department's SD policy, and to establish targets and monitor progress. Representatives from the six main business areas of the Department and the SD team all attended a specifically tailored SD training course on environmental appraisal run by the Civil Service College in November 2001.

A mechanism has been put in place to ensure that all major initiatives are assessed for SD impacts and benefits through the Department's projects approvals process. A further proposal is under development which will provide appraisals of new and revised policies. DWP internal auditors will include these appraisals within its audit programme.

We are preparing a Sustainable Development report to accompany our Spending Review submission to Treasury, and are working with our client groups and Business Management Division to ensure that the Department's bid accords with the objectives within the UK strategy for SD.

We have published a free-standing SD annual report which has been placed in the Library.