Busy schedule for Audit Committee

Five new inquiries are to be held over the next few months by the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

In December, the Committee will begin a new phase of its scrutiny of the Government's progress in greening the tax system, with Treasury Ministers giving evidence on the pre-Budget report. The inquiry will resume shortly before the Budget proper early next year. Last March, the Committee set down several challenges for the tax reform (ENDS Report 278, pp 25-26 ).

At the December session, Treasury Ministers will also be quizzed over how far sustainable development aims were taken into account in the comprehensive spending review completed in July (ENDS Report 282, pp 3-4 ).

A bigger inquiry into energy efficiency will commence early next year. The Committee will explore energy use in industry, commerce, households and the public sector, examining official targets, policies and programmes for their potential to save energy.

A short inquiry is also expected early next year on the progress of the "greening Government" initiative. The Committee received a lukewarm response to its first report on the issue in November (see p 32 ).

Finally, the Committee expects to follow up the publication of the Government's sustainable development strategy early next year by examining how progress against the strategy's targets and indicators should be monitored and audited.

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