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The China Task Force makes recommendations to the Government on its policy towards China in seven key areas: trade and investment, education, science and technology, health, culture, environment and sustainable development, and development issues. Its remit does not cover human rights issues.
The Deputy Prime Minister: During the 2004 UK-China summit, the China Task Force proposed the creation of a UK-China Working Group on climate change, focusing on four key areas: the review and development of ongoing climate science collaboration between the UK and China, energy efficiency, the restructuring of the energy market towards a low carbon future, and adaptation mechanisms.
Sustainable development is also an important part of the China Task Force's remit. The Task Force instigated the UK-China High-level Dialogue on Sustainable Development during President Hus State Visit in November 2005. This Dialogue provides a framework for further work with China on Sustainable Development issues affecting climate change, including Sustainable consumption and production and energy for Sustainable development.
The Deputy Prime Minister: I last met State Councillor Tang on 21 February this year in Beijing, and had extensive talks on a number of Task Force areas, and discussions on how we can best take forward Task Force recommendations.
The Deputy Prime Minister: The remit of the China Task Force was expanded in October 2005 to include Health. The China Task Force discussed epidemics in China at its October meeting last year. In February this year I visited Ditan Hospital, a leading infectious disease hospital in Beijing. I was accompanied by Chinese Health Minister Gao Qiang and discussed preparations China is making to handle the possible emergence of a pandemic influenza strain.
The Task Force has developed into a high level contact mechanism, which is recognised and valued by the Chinese Government. It has contributed fresh thinking on Government policy on China in the areas under its remit, and made recommendations on the further development of those policies. The Task Force has added value to a number of key issues, including an agreement to annual Prime Minister level UK-China summits, the signature of a Sustainable Development Dialogue, and support of strategic progress in key trade and investment sectors.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what meetings he attended in (a) Shanghai relating to the 2010 International Expo and (b) Beijing relating to the 2008 Olympics; and what the outcome of the meetings was. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: During my visit to China this February, I had a meeting in Beijing with Liu Qi, President of the Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and visited part of the Olympic site. We discussed work under way to establish a sustainability bridge linking London and Beijing's Olympic games. This will involve an exchange of expertise and good practice on how we are respectively approaching the sustainable development dimensions of the Games, complementing other ongoing initiatives.
The Deputy Prime Minister: During my trip to China in February I undertook 28 engagements across five cities, covering all of the themes of the China Task Force, including meetings with Premier Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, State Councillor Tang and Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year and total costs of all ministerial overseas travel. Copies are available in the Library.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Minister without Portfolio what advice she receives from consultants and public relations companies when providing strategic thinking on the general direction of Government policy and the values underpinning it; what contract Portland PR has to assist with these responsibilities; what contractual relationship she has with a public relations company which wholly or in part assists with the discharging of her ministerial responsibilities; and what the terms are of the contract. 
Hilary Armstrong: Members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) can pay additional contributions to top up their pension either through the Civil Service Additional Voluntary Contributions Scheme (CSAVCS), a money purchase arrangement, or by buying added years of service in the PCSPS, As an alternative to membership of the PCSPS recruits from 1 October 2002 have been able to join a stakeholder arrangement, the partnership pension account.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of lessons to be learned from the economic impact of the 1976 drought on the UK economy; 
Standpipes for the supply of water can only be authorised through an emergency drought order. The likelihood of any such orders being required as a consequence of the current drought in South East England is very small.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what factors were taken into account when deciding which measures relating to animal welfare should be included in the Government's preferred options for the England Rural Development Programme 2007 to 2013; 
(3) whether he took account of the animal welfare measures to be included in the Rural Development Programmes for Wales and Scotland in determining the England Rural Development Programme 2007 to 2013. 
Barry Gardiner: The recent consultation on the priorities for the next Rural Development Programme for England was informed by our extensive analysis of economic, environmental and social issues facing rural areas.
In line with this principle, we proposed that the most effective way to use the next Rural Development Programme in England to address our animal health and welfare objectives, as part of our wider aim of making farming more competitive and sustainable, is through increased opportunities for training and knowledge transfer.
We shall make decisions on the priorities for the next Rural Development Programme in England in the light of the responses to the consultation, and in the context of the EU Rural Development budget allocations and our own discussions on the use of voluntary modulation and associated match funding.
There will continue to be separate Rural Development Programmes for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the new programming period, 2007-2013. This is necessary to reflect the different priorities and needs identified within each part of the UK.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether John Pointon and Sons Ltd. have been appointed as renderers to deal with the carcasses of birds affected by avian influenza; and whether the company has a valid licence. 
Mr. Bradshaw: John Pointon and Sons Ltd. have not been appointed as renderers to deal with the carcasses of birds affected by avian influenza. However, they are on the list of potentially suitable renderers that would be approached in the event of an outbreak of a notifiable exotic disease. The company is expected to apply to the Environment Agency for a permit under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations 2000.
Mr. Bradshaw: For small scale surveys, of individual or a small number of social groups, Defra-funded research has used DNA fingerprinting of faecal samples obtained from badger latrines to identify the number of individuals present. Due to cost this method is not appropriate for use over large areas.
Widescale national surveys have been based on counting the number of active badger setts, but this method cannot identify the number of animals using each sett and is insensitive to changes in social group size. In these circumstances night-time lamping surveys can be used to estimate badger densities on pasture. The margins of error of each method depend on the number of samples collected and no generalisations can be made.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the success of methods of containing bovine tuberculosis other than the culling of badgers; 
In addition to the routine TB testing programme prescribed by EU legislation, we introduced compulsory pre-movement testing of cattle in England on 27 March to help reduce the risk of spreading TB through cattle movements. The legislation applies to cattle over 15 months of age moving from one and two year tested herds (phase 1 of the policy). It will be extended to movements of cattle over 42 days old on 1 March 2007 (phase 2). We estimate that phase 1 will achieve a reduction in new TB incidents of about 500 each year, with reductions of about 700 under phase 2.
We plan to extend the use of the gamma interferon test as an adjunct to the TB skin test in order to improve diagnosis of the disease.
We have a wide-ranging research programme in place looking at developing a TB vaccine for cattle and badgers, and investigating ways to limit interactions between cattle and badgers.
Based on the findings of past research, DEFRA has issued farmers with guidelines on good husbandry practices to try to minimise the transmission of bovine TB. More details are available on the DEFRA website: www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/abouttb/index.htm#protect
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the potential costs of bovine tuberculosis outbreaks caused by the perturbation effect resulting from badger culling; and whether these costs were included in the cost-benefit analysis included with his Departments consultation document. 
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