IMPACT OF THE COMMITTEE AND FOLLOW-UP
1. The Committee has made following up its work a
feature of its approach (as recognised by the Government in the
sustainable development strategy).
2. The following table sets out the Government's
response to the Committee's significant recommendations in its
first report on the Greening Government Initiative.
3. For our purposes here a significant recommendation
is one which we judge to have been calling for something substantially
different, or additional, to the Government's existing proposals.
Recommendations which have the effect of commending action announced
by the Government, as well as most conclusions, have been omitted.
4. The table sets out: the Committee's recommendation;
how the Government responded our comments and/or further relevant
action by us or the Government. Recommendations have been abbreviated
||Government Response||Committee follow-up/further action
1. The Government should review the
operation of the ENV Cabinet Committee
-inclusion within ENV's remit of
sustainable development and the
environmental impact of non-environmental
-a more active role aimed at increasing
leadership and ownership of the sustainable
development agenda specifically creating the
sustainable development strategy and
revising departmental aims and objectives;
-publication of significant decisions and
requirement for action by Green Ministers;
-consideration of published reports from the
Green Ministers Committee. (Paragraph 20)
Agreed that ENV
preparation of the
The Committee returned to this topic in a further report on Greening Government in Session 1998-99
2. A monitoring programme should be
instituted by DETR and the Cabinet Office
of the effectiveness of the environmental
statements accompanying Cabinet papers.
The conclusions of the review were published as part of the response to the Committee's further report on Greening Government and set out in the second report from Green Ministers
3. The Green Ministers Committee can do
-the Deputy Prime Minister should chair
-there should be a clearer statement of its
relationship to the Cabinet Committee;
-it should report to the Cabinet Committee
annually on progress and this report should
-its forthcoming programme of action
should contain concrete objectives and
targets for advancing the take-up of best
practice with regard to greening operations,
environmental appraisal and policy
-it should make full reports to Parliament on
its meetings and its progress (Paragraph 31)
In 1999 the DPM and the Chancellor attended a meeting of Green Ministers.
Two reports from Green Ministers have now been published and the Committee has reported on the first. An inquiry based on the second in underway.
See reports from the Green Ministers Committee, July 1999 and November 2000.
The practice of regular PQs after meetings has continued
4. Permanent Secretaries should be given
formal responsibilities for supporting Green
Ministers and delivering effective
environmental appraisal of policy and
improvements in green housekeeping.
Already in place
Departments are now committed to having a board member or equivalent senior official with specific responsibility for sustainable development and environmental issues. Only HM Treasury has identified the Permanent Secretary in this capacity.
5. Government should consult local
authorities on a statutory duty for all local
authorities to develop local sustainable
development strategies. (Paragraph 47
An equivalent statutory duty to develop such a strategy now exists within the Local Government 2000 Act.
6. We believe that sustainability needs to be
clearly incorporated into initiatives, such as
the criteria for Best Value, so that
inconsistent expectations are not placed on
local government. (Paragraph 48)
To be followed up
7. The Government's commitment to
sustainable development should be set out in
clear and consistent language in the aims and
objectives of new bodies and new policies
and reflected in the aims and objectives of
existing government machinery and policies
when revisited and relaunched. (Paragraph
Ministers to consider
this for new bodies
and report to ENV
on existing bodies
Green Ministers are now committed to assessment of whether sustainable development needs to be included in remit of all new bodies and review progress in adding it to remits of existing bodies.
8. The approach to developing the
sustainable development strategy has been
unsatisfactory with other major policy
reviews being completed first and with no
formal link to the Comprehensive Spending
Followed up with respect to the CSR in two subsequent reports from the Committee.
9. The sustainable development strategy
should be auditable and set out where
responsibility lies within government for
taking the relevant actions. (Paragraph 65)
The Committee has now taken evidence on the strategy from ministers and others. It will consider further action after the first progress report is published.
10. A new single measure of welfare could
play a very useful part in...the achievement
of sustainable development. There
are...challenges in constructing such an
index, but Government work to publish an
index of this kind by the year 2002.
To be followed up.
11. There would be advantage in giving
responsibility for maintaining the indicators
to a more free-standing and independent
body such as the Office for National
Statistics. (Paragraph 71)
The lack of public trust in official statistics was identified in Quality of life Counts, the Governments new sustainable development indicator set. Government proposals on the general issue is set out in Statistics: a Matter of Trust, Cm 3882, 1998
12. The sustainable development strategy
should set out Government's aims for further
changes in the allocation of public
expenditure and tax measures within the
economic and fiscal framework. (Paragraph
Agreed (in summary
To be followed up in further work on the strategy.
13. Green Ministers should ask Treasury to
review the accounting rules, incentives and
disincentives and any proposals for new
investment programmes to ensure that
positive measures in pursuit of the Greening
Government Initiative are encouraged.
Agreed. In part
covered by existing
The Committee addressed government procurement again in its further reports on Greening Government as well as in work on HM Treasury's pre-budget and budget reports.
14. There should be a range of separate but
complementary reports on sustainable
-a comprehensive and detailed assessment of
the state of sustainable development within
the UK once a Parliament;
-an annual report on the Government's
performance against its sustainable
development strategy and targets; and
-an annual volume of sustainable
development indicator statistics with
quarterly updates where available.
The Government is committed to an annual Green Ministers report, an annual progress report on the sustainable development indicators and the publication of information on the sustainable development indicators as and when it becomes available (the norm for statistical output).
15. Departmental annual reports (DARs)
should report on progress made towards
sustainable development objectives.
reference also to the
The Committee followed up on the environmental content of the 1999 DARs and was critical overall. The Green Ministers report now stands as a major channel for environmental reporting by other departments.
16. There should be a major sustainable
development debate in the Commons on a
Government Motion. (Paragraph 87)
To be followed up.
17. Departments should make a commitment
to a programme of sustainable development
training for relevant staff. (Paragraph 95)
Departments are committed, 1999, to having strategies in place to raise staff awareness on sustainable development and environmental issues. The Green ministers report 2000 reported progress.
18. All public statements on new and
substantially amended policies and
Explanatory Memoranda on Bills should
include a summary statement on their
implications for sustainable development.
Agreement to the
principle but no
Departments are now committed to the publication of all free-standing environmental appraisals (unless confidentiality must be preserved). However at the same time Government is working to develop a comprehensive integrated appraisal system in support of sustainable development.
19. Departments should set out clearly what
their policy is on undertaking environmental
appraisals; publishing the results; and
ensuring that this policy is carried out.
Agreed in principle
with stress on the
To be followed up.
20. The Green Ministers Committee should
regularly review departments' experience of
environmental appraisal - including using
independent audit of performance & report
the results. (Paragraphs 110 and 111)
of the Green
ministers report but
The Committee reported on the first Green Ministers report (see below) and expressed disappointment over the quality and number of published environmental appraisals of policy. The Government is now committed to the publication of all free-standing appraisals.
21. Green Ministers should Committee to
agree further government-wide medium-term
targets and to commit themselves to start
benchmarking departments' performance
using standardised measures for more than
just energy efficiency by the end of the
century. (Paragraph 120)
A greater range of government-wide targets for green operations have been established, covering energy (greenhouse gas emissions), water and waste.
22. Reporting of operational matters is
unsystematic, selective and with only a
limited attempt at quantification. Reporting
of performance is a key responsibility of
public service and should be as
comprehensive. as companies' reports for
their shareholders. (Paragraph 127)
Followed up by the Committee in two further reports on Greening Government.
23. Green Ministers should agree a detailed
core reporting requirement for all
departments, covering: energy use, water
use, transport, paper use and recycling,
waste to landfill, procurement, emissions,
use of hazardous chemicals and
contaminated land. Departments should
quantify performance using standard
measures eventually and DETR should
collate and supply data for all government.
24. Departments should be reviewing how
their environmental policy is applied by their
Agencies and NonDepartmental Public
Bodies and the targets agreed with them.
Agreed in principle.
The Government is now committed to:
- the inclusion, in guidance to departments' associate bodies, of a requirement to cover environmental issues in their reporting
- departments' audit of implementation
- action plans for integrating sustainable development into the work of their associate bodies
25. Departments should have begun
introducing an environmental management
system (EMS) by the end of the Parliament.
75 per cent of departments should have one
site registered to ISO 14001 by 2001.
Accepted in principle
with sympathy for
the specific target
Followed up by the Committee in two further reports on greening Government. Six departments have at least part of their, or an agencies', operations covered by an accredited EMS. Full details are given in the second Green Ministers report, November 2000.
5. The further Greening Government reports were the
6th, 1998-99, The Greening Government Initiative 1999, HC 426;
and the 5th, 1999-2000, The Greening Government Initiative: first
annual report from the Green Ministers Committee, HC 341.
Greening the tax system and the budget
6. The Committee's work on progress in greening the
tax system and budget reporting has taken the form of an on-going
conversation with the Treasury Green Minister following each Pre-Budget
Report and virtually all Budgets. This has resulted in the following
1st, 1997-98 Pre-Budget Report,
3rd, 1997-98 Pre-Budget Report: Government response
and follow-up, HC 985
4th, 1998-99 Pre-Budget Report 1998, HC 93
8th, 1998-99 Budget 1999: Environmental Implications,
4th, 1999-2000 Pre-Budget Report 1999: pesticides,
aggregates & the Climate Change Levy, HC 76
6th, 1999-2000 Budget 2000 and the environment,
7. The Committee has looked at a mix of individual
proposals and also the processes by which green tax proposals
are considered and conclusions reported. The Committee has also
focused upon the links drawn between economic development and
pressures put on the environment in the mainstream analyses presented
by the Treasury in its Pre-Budget and Budget reports. The Committee
has been quite consistent in pursuing certain lines of inquiry
and will continue to do so.
8. The Committee is currently looking at the Pre-Budget
report, 2000 with a particular focus this year on the taxation
of fuels and the environment.
9. The Committee has looked at greening the allocation
of public expenditure in the following reports.
2nd, 1997-98 The Greening Government
Initiative, HC 517-I (looked, inter alia, towards the forthcoming
Comprehensive Spending Review)
3rd, 1998-99 The Comprehensive Spending Review
and Public Service Agreements, HC 92
3rd, 1999-2000 Comprehensive Spending Review: Government
response and follow-up, HC 233
10. The Committee will return to look at the conclusions
of Spending Review 2000 in 2001.
11. The Committee has taken an interest in the interaction
between the Government's commitment to sustainable development
and its activities and actions in multilateral for a including
the European Union.
4th, 1997-98 Climate Change:
UK Emission Reduction Targets and Audit Arrangements, HC 899
2nd, 1998-99 Climate Change: Government response
and follow-up, HC 88
1st, 1998-99 The Multilateral Agreement on Investment,
1st, 1999-2000 EU Policy and the environment: an
agenda for the Helsinki Summit,
2nd, 1999-2000 World Trade and Sustainable Development:
an agenda for the Seattle Summit, HC 45
12. The two reports on climate change looked at the
UK's contribution to the global effort not least in terms of being
able to present credible domestic policies and actions. The Deputy
Prime Minister and the Environment Minister have agreed to report
back to the Committee on the aftermath of the recent negotiations
on implementing the Kyoto Protocol in The Hague (COP 6) as well
as subsequent talks in Ottawa on a way forward.
13. The Committee reported on the EU's efforts to
green its institutions and has followed this up with evidence
from the European Environment Agency and Eurostat regrading relevant
indicators. The Committee will visit Brussels in early 2001 for
a meeting on this subject with the European Commissioner for the
14. The report on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment
led to the inquiry into the WTO summit which was expected to agree
to include investment, inter alia, in a new round of trade
15. The Committee has looked at number of individual
5th, 1998-99 Genetically Modified
Organisms and the environment: coordination of Government policy,
7th, 1998-99 Energy Efficiency, HC 159
7th, 1999-2000 Water Prices and the environment,
16. The Government's response to the Committee's
report on energy efficiency has been followed up with an oral
evidence session with the relevant ministers from the Departments
of Trade and Industry (energy policy) and Environment, Transport
and the Regions (energy efficiency policy and climate change).
A further report has been put on hold while the Committee inquires
into the prospects for the Government reaching its targets for
electricity to be generated from renewable sources of energy.