Select Committee on Environmental Audit Minutes of Evidence

Letter from the Deputy Prime Minister to the Chairman of the Committee

  When Michael Meacher and I gave evidence before the Committee today, we promised we would send to you the Treasury guidance on the Spending Review dealing with sustainable development. A copy is attached.

  As you will see, sustainable development is dealt with upfront in the Overview to what is a very extensive set of guidance. Page 5 of the attached brings in sustainable development as the first of a series of common issues and the advice is set out immediately after the Treasury's three overarching themes for the Review—which themselves are very much supportive of sustainable development—are addressed.

  The guidance makes clear that all departments have a contribution to make to sustainable development and this should be reflected in their review proposals, targets and investment strategies. It sets out the Government's intention to demonstrate that the Review outcomes deliver real benefits across all three pillars of sustainable development and also gives a specific role to Green Ministers for integrating sustainable development into the review process in their own departments.

  The guidance has been available to departments since November. Since then officials in my Department have been working further with their counterparts in Treasury to clarify how review proposals should be considered in terms of their contribution to sustainable development.

  I should also take this opportunity to clarify our discussion of how sustainable development formally fits into the structure of the review. It is not the subject of a separate cross-cutting review. I do not believe it would make sense to treat it in this way; it needs to be integral to all aspects of the full Review and not dealt with in isolation. As I have explained it is addressed as a "common issue" for all departments to take into account.

February 2000

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