HC Deb 28 March 2003 vol 402 cc23-4WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley)

The problems caused by invasive non-native species can be serious by transforming our ecosystems, altering natural habitats and threatening native species. This issue has been identified by the Convention on Biological Diversity as presenting one of the primary threats to biodiversity globally.

Recognising this threat, in 2001 my Department, with the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales, convened a working group comprising a wide range of stakeholders to undertake a fundamental review of policy and practice on non-native species. The review was a commitment in the Government's Rural White Paper. This working group has now completed its review and submitted its report, published today by my Department.

I welcome the report and recommendations of the working group on tackling this important matter. This is a complex and wide-ranging issue and we will be considering the review's report carefully in developing the Government's strategy to take this forward.

The Review was undertaken on a Great Britain-wide basis with significant input from the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales. Wildlife policy is devolved and so I cannot make commitments on behalf of Scotland and Wales. However, my Department will be liaising closely with the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales to investigate the scope for development of a co-ordinated response.

Our Department will aim to produce an initial response to the report by this summer.

Copies of the Report are available in the Libraries of both Houses.