§ The Minister for Rural affairs and Local Environmental Quality (Alun Michael)
I am pleased to advise that DEFRA and the Scottish Executive have begun a joint policy review of British Waterways. It will be a strategic review and its terms of reference are toassess how well British Waterways is operating within the framework of the policy documents "Waterways for Tomorrow and Scotland's Canals: An Asset for the Future"; and toadvise what changes are needed to enable British Waterways to improve its ability to deliver Government policies and customer satisfaction.In particular, the Review will consider:British Waterways' performance over the past five years;whether the current governance, financial and legislative arrangements are conducive for getting the right performance from British Waterways;whether the future direction of British Waterways as set out in its Our Plan for the Future 2003–07 is right, and whether it is consistent with "Waterways for Tomorrow and Scotland's Canals: An Asset for the Future"; andwhether DEFRA and the Scottish Executive's working relationships with BW could be improved to deliver better strategic Departmental objectives as sponsor.
On 19 April 2004, in conjunction with the Scottish Executive, I launched a public consultation exercise that will form a key part of the review. The consultation document invites views on the performance of British Waterways over the last five years and the way in which it should carry out its business in the future. In particular it asks for comments on the extent to which British Waterways has met its objectives as set out in its Framework Document "Waterways for Tomorrow", and "Scotland's Canals: An Asset for the Future" and the extent to which the Government's objectives for British Waterways as set out in these documents meet current needs. The consultation period will last for 12 weeks and close on 14 July.
A Steering Group, including representatives from DEFRA, The Scottish Executive, British Waterways, Treasury, ODPM and the Shareholder Executive, will oversee the review. Their terms of reference are:30WSHaving regard to British Waterways' Terms of Reference, to:Commission Papers to examine particular aspects in detail.Carry out public consultations.Seek direction and approval from Ministers at key stages and oversee publication of the Review.
It will publish its recommendations in late autumn.
Copies of the consultation document can be viewed on DEFRA's website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/