HL Deb 18 May 2004 vol 661 cc29-30WS
The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker)

My right honourable friend the First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's successful visit to China in July last year, he asked me to head a short-term task force on China, to make recommendations for taking forward Sino-UK relations. Against the backdrop of our already extensive relationship with China, and considerable interaction across the range of government business, the group was asked to come up with concrete proposals in four particular areas: trade and investment; science and technology; education; and sustainable development and the environment.

I chaired three meetings of the task force, which generated an excellent range of proposals in the areas mentioned. I was delighted to report back to the Prime Minister on our progress, as scheduled, ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit this week. I was also delighted to introduce Premier Wen to the members of the task force at our meeting on 10 May and to present him with a summary of our recommendations.

I have passed a copy of those recommendations to the chair of the All-Party China Group and am today making copies available in the Libraries of the House. Details of the task force's composition, and the dates of their meetings, are contained therein. The recommendations will now be taken forward by the relevant departments, and I am grateful for the support of my right honourable friends the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, in particular, in agreeing to help to implement them. I intend to hold a further meeting of the task force in the autumn, to review progress to that point, and to visit China again myself as soon as possible thereafter.