Environmental Audit Committee Press Notice

NEW INQUIRY

The 2008 Pre-Budget Report

Continuing its tradition of inquiries into the Treasury's annual Pre-Budget Reports (PBRs), the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is today launching an inquiry into the 2008 Pre-Budget Report€”Facing global challenges: Supporting people through difficult times (Cm 7484, November 2007).

This year's inquiry is set against a background not just of economic turmoil, but of considerable discussion over the risks and opportunities this poses to environmental policy. A leading group of British economists and environmentalists has called for a "Green New Deal" for the UK, something which has been echoed, in a global context, by the United Nations Environment Programme. More recently, the Aldersgate Group, a coalition of major companies and environmental groups, has published a report arguing that "a rapid transition to a greener economy, far from having been marginalised by the financial crisis, is more essential than ever for our future prosperity."

This year the Committee will focus on the implications of the economic downturn for environmental taxes and spending. This will include looking at the extent to which the Treasury is (or should be) using measures aimed at stimulating economic recovery to simultaneously advance environmental goals.

In addition, the Committee will be interested in the range of policy contained within the Pre-Budget Report.

The Committee invites organisations and members of the public to submit memoranda setting out their views on these issues. Some specific subjects on which the Committee would welcome comments are set out below, although respondents are free to comment on any issues that they consider relevant:

€ The risks and opportunities of an economic downturn€”and of the policy response to it€”for environmental taxation and investment p0licy;

€ The size and nature of the "green stimulus" package announced in the PBR€”and the environmental impacts of the other economic stimulus measures announced at the same time, such as funding for roads;

€ The Treasury's announcements on Air Passenger Duty, Vehicle Excise Duty, and fuel duty;

€ Ways in which the Treasury might pursue environmental reforms to VAT;

€ The Treasury's approach to the use of revenues from auctioning carbon allowances (or from prospective international carbon taxes) for dedicated environmental ends;

€ The announcement of a forum on skills for a low carbon economy; and

€ The announcement that the bus service operators' grant will introduce incentives for low carbon vehicles.

The Committee asks for written submissions in accordance with the guidelines stated below by Tuesday 13 January 2009.  Evidence sessions are likely to take place in the last week of January / first week of February.

Please note

Each submission should:

• Be no more than 3,000 words in length;

• Begin with a short summary in bullet point form;

• Have numbered paragraphs; and

• Be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] and marked ‘Pre-budget Report’. An additional paper copy should be sent to:

Clerk of the Committee
Environmental Audit Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London
SW1P 3JA

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals submitting written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Please supply a postal address so a copy of the Committee’s report can be sent to you upon publication.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at:

http://www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm

Please also note that:

• Material published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

• Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised.

• Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

• Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

1. The 2008 Pre-Budget Report made a number of announcements on environmental policy, including:

€ Introducing a "green stimulus" package, to support low carbon growth and jobs by accelerating £535 million of capital spending on energy efficiency, rail transport, and flood defences;

€ Increasing fuel duty by two pence per litre (though this will be outweighed by the reduction of VAT);

€ Reducing the differential levels of Vehicle Excise Duty that had been announced at Budget 2008;

€ Abandoning the proposal to reform air passenger duty into a "per-plane" charge€”but reforming air passenger duty by moving from two to four distance bands;

€ Extending the duration of the Renewables Obligation to provide financial support for large-scale renewable electricity, and introducing a feed-in tariff for small-scale renewable electricity;

€ Announcing that reforms to the bus service operators grant will introduce incentives for low carbon buses;

€ Calling on the European Commission to bring forward a proposal to introduce reduced VAT rates for energy efficient products as soon as possible;

€ Announcing the creation of a forum on low carbon skills.

The 2008 PBR is available from the Treasury website: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/prebud_pbr08_repindex.htm

2. Membership:

Chairman: Mr Tim Yeo, MP

Mr Gregory Barker MP Mr Nick Hurd MP Mrs Linda Riordan MP

Mr Martin Caton MP Mr Mark Lazarowicz MP Mr Graham Stuart MP

Mr Colin Challen MP Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP Jo Swinson MP

Mr David Chaytor MP Mr Phil Woolas MP* Dr Desmond Turner MP

Mr Martin Horwood MP Mr Shahid Malik MP Joan Walley MP

* The Minister for the Environment has ex-officio membership of the Committee in like manner to the Financial Secretary's membership of the Committee of Public Accounts.

Media Enquiries: Laura Kibby, 020 7219 0718 or via email: [email protected]

Specific Committee Information: Details of all the Committee's press releases and inquiries, together with its Reports, oral evidence and other publications, are available on the Committee's Internet home page, which can be found at:

www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environmental_audit_committee.cfm

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk