§ Lord Pearson of Rannoch
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are satisfied that the European Community has fulfilled its duty under Article 174 (previously 130r) of the Treaty of Rome to take account of the costs and benefits of its environmental legislation, with particular reference to policies affecting the quality and supply of water, and the treatment and removal of sewage; and [HL2857]
What assessment they have made of the vote by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament not to require the European Commission to carry out a cost/benefit analysis before the draft Framework Directive on Water Policy is approved; and [HL2856]149WA
Whether the Environment Agency has fulfilled its duty to carry out cost/benefit analyses of its environmental legislative proposals, with particular reference to policies affecting the quality and supply of water and the treatment and removal of sewage. [HL2858]
§ Baroness Hayman
The Government keep very carefully in mind the provisions of the Treaty of Rome to take account of the costs and benefits of action or lack of action in the preparation of Community policy on the environment. The Commission is committed to the principle that there should be proper economic analyses to support all proposals for legislation so that both the Council and the European Parliament can take account of assessments of the potential costs and benefits of such proposals in developing policy. The Government consider that there have been cases where the level of economic analysis prepared by the Commission has not in itself provided an adequate basis for the Council and the European Parliament to do so, and that this has occurred in respect of proposals on water policy.150WA
The specific amendment to the Water Framework Directive recently considered by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Protection of the European Parliament would have required the Commission to carry out by 31 December 1999 a study to establish the amount of investment necessary to implement the directive. This requirement would, however, have been part of the process of implementation of the directive once agreed. The vote against this amendment does not, of course, remove the requirement for the Parliament to take account of costs and benefits in considering the proposal.
As regards the duty of the Environment Agency under Section 39 of the Environmental Protection Act 1995, the Government acknowledge that the agency has been developing analytical techniques intended further to improve its ability to make assessments of the benefits of action which it wishes to see undertaken. The Government expect such assessments to be a central feature of the case put by the agency for improvements in sewage treatment, above and beyond the implementation of mandatory requirements, to be reflected in the current periodic review of price limits for the water and sewerage industry from 2000 to 2005.