British MPs demand more green policy checks

Parliamentary committee recommends establishment of environmental auditor general

A committee of British MPs has recommended establishing an environmental auditor general to assess whether government environmental and sustainable development policies are being implemented. The new post should be created within the existing national audit office, said the House of Commons environmental audit committee, because this already has the necessary powers and constitutional independence, as well as long experience of verifying government data and reporting.

The parliamentary environmental audit committee was created shortly after the present Labour government took power in 1997, in line with a pre-election manifesto promise. It has issued a string of reports over the last four years, focusing on themes such as the administration's "greening government" initiative (ENDS Daily 28 March 2000) and its bid to increase the breadth and depth of environmental taxation (ENDS Daily 29 February 2000).

The committee's latest report takes stock of the environmental audit process since 1997. It gives itself good marks for effort, but detects an "audit gap" due in part to lack of the kind of independent environmental auditing capacity that it recommends, and in part due to a lack of targets set by the government against which assessments could be made.

Follow Up:
House of Commons environmental audit committee, tel: +44 20 72 19 57 76, and its report; National audit office, tel: +44 20 77 98 70 00.

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