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Departments: Foreign Relations

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many memoranda of understanding are in force as a result of agreements with foreign governments entered into by Ministers in his Department; and what executive actions each entails. (144474)

Records of memoranda of understanding (MoU)’s are not held centrally across Whitehall or centrally within DEFRA.

However, I am aware that we hold the following MoU’s:

with Japan on the continuation of co-operation on research into environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals. This MoU facilitates exchange of information and joint workshops but has not lead to direct executive action;

with the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources covering cooperation on matters relating to environmental protection and sustainable development. There are no executive actions arising from this MoU;

with environment ministries or regulators in 15 countries to develop registry software for the trading of carbon allowances—Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia. In each case the MoU has been supplemented by a formal separate licence agreement with each country and officials work closely with their counterparts on the software developments including improvements to the existing operational software;

with the National Development Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs on establishing a China-UK Climate Change Working Group. The MoU identified a range of climate change science, economics, technology and policy priorities for discussion; and

between DEFRA, DTI and The Ministry of Science and Technology of the people’s Republic of China. Its title is “Cooperation on Near-zero Emissions Coal Technology through Carbon Capture and Storage— Phase 1”.

Its purpose is to cooperate on near zero coal technology in China through carbon capture and storage and to explore the feasibility of and options for demonstration of this technology in China. Phase 1 activities are aimed to be complete by 2008;

with China memorandum of understanding on agricultural science and technology, signed in 1980 Originally the responsibility of the Department for International Development’s predecessor department. The Memorandum's sole executive action is the facilitation, with minimal funding (£10,000 a year, matched by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture), of exchange visits between British and Chinese agricultural experts in relation to selected research projects;

with China on Phytosanitary Co-operation. The purpose of the agreement is to strengthen bilateral phytosanitary co-operation, to help prevent the movement of plant pests. Under the agreement, both parties exchange information on legislation; support technical exchanges, and notify each other of any discovery of plant pests; and

a Protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of potato mini tubers from the UK to China, signed in Beijing in October 2006 by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on behalf of his DEFRA colleague

DEFRA does have other ministerial-level agreements with foreign Governments, such as the Sustainable Development Dialogues with Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, but these are not formal MoU’s.