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Lord Whitty: Changes in animal disease control legislation take account of veterinary advice and where appropriate are underpinned by formal risk assessments. In communicating such changes to the State Veterinary Service in the field, to local authorities, and to interested parties generally, DEFRA seeks to provide explanatory guidance and other support such as helplines.
Lord Whitty: The Rural Affairs Forum for England, established in January 2002, held its fourth meeting on 9 November in Spalding, Lincolnshire, chaired by my right honourable friend, the Minister of State for Rural Affairs. The following day, also in Spalding, a wider group of representatives of rural interest took part in the forum's first-ever Rural Affairs Conference on the topic "Town and countrygreat divide or deeper connection?" It is intended to make the
The Government are sympathetic to the principle of holding a rural summit which was discussed by the forum on 9 November and will be discussed further in due course. It should be remembered that the urban summit arose out of many years of intensive activity on urban policy; whereas rural policy, as we now understand it, was relatively underdeveloped before the publication of the rural White Paper in November 2000 and establishment of DEFRA in June 2001. While rapid progress has been made in the past two years we have a long way to go and the timing of an event of this sort needs to be right to ensure that it makes a practical and significant contribution to rural regeneration.
Lord Whitty: The Government's main concern is to ensure that practical and effective arrangements are in place to promote rural regeneration rather than to promote a particular delivery vehicle. We consider proposals for the formation of regeneration companies on their merits, as is the case with the proposal for a rural regeneration company to administer the Cumbria Rural Action Zone programme which is currently being considered by the relevant departments.
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