Lord Cochrane of Cults asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they intend to consolidate the Gas Acts, and if so when such work will start.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): Her Majesty's Government have no present plans to consolidate the Gas Acts.
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Scottish Natural Heritage
Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will give details of the study of Scottish Natural Heritage which was announced in May.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): Ministers received the report of the Study Group in October and I will make arrangements for copies to be placed in the Library of the House.
The Government have noted that since Scottish Natural Heritage was established in 1992 it has been asked to undertake a range of new initiatives. Amongst these have been implementation of the EC Habitats
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Directive, initiatives on biodiversity arising out of agreements reached at Rio and programmes commissioned by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on the Cairngorms, Loch Lomond and environmental education. Taken together, this new work means that the balance of SNH's work has moved from that envisaged by the Government when they published their plans for SNH in The Way Ahead in 1990. My right honourable friend has accepted the main proposal of the report of the Study Group that a new The Way Ahead should be prepared, taking account of changes in natural heritage priorities and levels of government grant-in-aid likely to be available. My right honourable friend has asked Scottish Office and SNH officials to draft a new version of The Way Ahead to take us to the millennium. This will be published in the first half of next year. At that time we shall also announce our full response to the report.