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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he
10 Oct 2005 : Column 125W
has had with the Turkish Government regarding (a) the application to join the EU and (b) Cyprus; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: I warmly welcome the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October. In the context of our efforts as presidency to implement the December 2004 European Council decision to open negotiations, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has held extensive and detailed contacts with the Turkish Government, including on matters relating to Cyprus.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Our ambassador in Tashkent, David Moran, has continued to impress upon President Karimov's Government the importance of social and political reform and our conviction that democracy, political pluralism and respect for the rule of law are essential for the long-term stability of Uzbekistan. We have made repeated calls on President Karimov's Government to allow free and fair elections in Uzbekistan. In a statement on 29 December 2004, my hon. Friend, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Bill Rammell), made clear our view that Uzbekistan's most recent election, held on 26 December, had fallen far short of international standards in these respects.
We fund a number of projects aimed at promoting democracy, civil society, and human rights in Uzbekistan. For example, our embassy in Tashkent is supporting a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) registration and capacity-building project. This provides a lawyer to unregistered NGOs, assisting them in preparing documentation for registration, and appealing in the case of refusal. We are also sponsoring an International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) project aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the Uzbek authorities' efforts in tackling the problem of torture.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality how many letters to her Department from hon. Members in session (a) 200405 and (b) 200506 remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (i) one month old, (ii) two months old, (iii) three months old, (iv) four months old and (v) over six months old. 
The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/Peers correspondence. The Report for 2004 was published on 6 April 2005.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action is taken by her Department to monitor the enforcement of legislation in respect of animal neglect cases; how many successful prosecutions have been brought in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Data are provided by Defra for Great Britain in the two tables as follows. The number of welfare inspections carried out on farms by the State Veterinary Service in each of the last five years are detailed in table (a):
|Number of inspections|
(but not banned)
|Number of offenders|
|Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986||2||2||||||1|
|Protection of Animals Act, 1911 (as amended)||828||861||754||768||783|
|Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Section 8||1||4||3||2|||
|Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925|||||||||||
|Protection of Animals Act, 1934||||1||||||1|
|Docking and Nicking of Horses Act, 1949||||2|||||||
|Pet Animals Act, 1951||9||14||8||6||6|
|Cockfighting Act, 1952|||||||||||
|Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954||21||15||11||13||12|
|Animal Health Act, 1981, Sections 4042, 46 and 49 and Orders made|
under Sections 8, 9, 37, 38, 39 and 43
|Slaughterhouses Act, 1974||4||||||1||1|
|Abandonment of Animals Act, 1960, Section 1||12||13||19||20||15|
|Animal and Animal Products (Import and Export) Regulations 1988||||||||4||2|
|Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act, 1962||||||1|||||
|Animal Boarding Establishments Act, 1963||6||4||8||3||2|
|Riding Establishments Acts, 1964 and 1970||||2||1||1|||
|Slaughter of Poultry Act, 1967||7|||||||||
|Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1968, Sections 1, 2 and 6||11||10||5||3||2|
|Protection of Badgers Act, 1992 (except Section 13)||10||4||5||5||4|
|Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Section 9||||||3||3||2|
|Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 Section 11||3|||||||||
|Wild Mammals (Protection) Act1996||||4||4||3||5|
|Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 2000 SS 3 and 4||||||||1|||
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the European Commission proposals to prohibit the use of tallow as a fuel to run plants which dispose of animal waste. 
The burning of waste tallow as a fuel is currently subject to control as a waste recovery operation under Article 10 of the Waste Framework Directive (75/442/EEC). This requirement is supplemented by the requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive (2000/76/EC) which comes fully into force on 28 December 2005. It will then be necessary for any such plant also to meet the emissions, monitoring and other operating requirements of the Waste Incineration Directive. It is for plant operators to decide whether to invest in any improvements which may be needed to meet those requirements or to switch to a fuel which is not subject to controls under the directive.
In June I wrote to the European Commission expressing the UK view that the existing requirements of the Waste Framework Directive and the Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (96/61/EC) are sufficient to ensure, that the burning of waste tallow as fuel is carried in ways which protect the environment and public and animal health. I called for the Waste Incineration Directive and the Animal By-Products Regulation (1774/2002) to be amended accordingly although, if agreed, there is little prospect of any amendments coming into effect by the end of this year.
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Mr. Bradshaw: Under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, it is an offence for anyone to kill or take a badger, or to attempt to do so, except under licence or in strictly controlled circumstances defined in the Act. The Act also makes it an offence to injure, ill-treat or dig for a badger. Additional protection from baiters is provided for all animals under the Protection of Animals Act 1911. And there is a range of offences under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 which support action against anyone who sets out to inflict unnecessary suffering on any wild animal.
The level of protection provided for badgers is unique for a non-endangered animal. This reflects the concern this Government have about gratuitous acts of cruelty to badgers, which have occurred too often in the past.
Enhanced powers for wildlife inspectors are being introduced in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill. Supplementing existing measures under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, these will provide a further level of protection by increasing the opportunities to identify and deal with anyone intent on damaging, destroying or interfering with badgers.
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