19 June 2003 | Robin Parker
An inquiry has been launched into the sourcing of timber for the new Home Office headquarters - despite prime minister Tony Blair's claim that it was not the government's concern.
Blair told the House of Commons it was "an issue to be brought up with the contractors rather than the government".
But a Home Office spokesman told SM that Home Office minister Lord Filkin has launched a full inquiry into whether wood had been "inadvertently" bought from unsustainable forests.
He said contractors were required to procure wood in line with the government's environmental guidelines.
Last summer a report from the Environmental Audit Committee accused government purchasers of paying lip service to a policy introduced in 2000, committing them to buy from sustainable and legal sources.
The move follows a protest by the pressure group Greenpeace, which claims contractors used illegal plywood from Indonesia's remaining forests.
It also coincides with the Environment Agency sending its top 500 suppliers a CD-Rom, Green Matters, saying they should run their businesses in an environmentally sound way.
Green Matters explains how to manage supply chains with good environmental practice.
Greenpeace claims that about half of all tropical plywood imported into the UK comes from Indonesia, which is suffering from the highest rate of forest loss in the world.