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Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

DEFRA is today launching a review of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP), which will focus on the following issues:

Effectiveness and impact of RCEP reports since the last review;

RCEP funding and performance since the last review;

Relationship with Government and other organisations, with an interest in the activities of the RCEP

The RCEP is an independent standing body established in 1970 to advise the Queen, the Government, Parliament and the public on environmental issues. Its primary role is to contribute to policy development by providing an authoritative factual basis for policy-making and debates, and setting new policy agendas and priorities. Although independent of Government Departments, it is funded by DEFRA, to which it is also accountable for its use of resources.

It is recommended that non-departmental public bodies undergo a review every few years to evaluate their performance. The last review of the RCEP was carried out in 1999. As the sponsoring Department, DEFRA, on behalf of Government, will lead on the new review. We aim to have completed the review by Spring 2007. A draft scope for the review has been set out in annexe 1. Further information about the Royal Commission, including its recent work, is set out in annexe 2.

Once the review has reported, DEFRA will examine its recommendations and see how they should be implemented, in particular, by reviewing the agreement setting out the framework within which the relationship between the two bodies operates. Should it prove necessary, DEFRA will then bring forward proposals to change the framework document and alter the way that the RCEP operates.

Copies of the scoping document will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and will also be available on the DEFRA website at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/rcep/index.htm.