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Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many UK farmers have applied for set aside payments for each of the last seven years; and how much was allocated for set aside payments in each such year. 
|Number of applications||Value of set-aside paid (£)|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether funding has been made available to local authorities to enable them to fulfil their responsibility for looking after stray animals under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. 
[holding answer 31 January 2006]: Funds will be transferred from the police to local authorities to reflect the transfer of responsibility for stray dogs under
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section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. Negotiations over this transfer of funds are currently taking place between DEFRA, the Home Office, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local Government Association and section 68 will not commence until an agreement has been reached.
Mr. Bradshaw: No, the docking of dogs' tails is allowed but only if performed by a vet. The routine tail docking of piglets is prohibited, but they can be docked on the advice of a vet where tail biting is likely to occur. The tail docking of cattle is prohibited except in an emergency by a vet. And the Docking and Nicking of Horses Act 1949 prevents the docking of a horse's tail and restricts the import of a horse with a docked tail.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to prevent people from travelling abroad to get their dogs' tails docked. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The docking of dogs' tails is currently legal if performed by a vet and the Government do not consider it necessary to restrict the ability of people to take their dog abroad to get it docked.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the likely impact of the proposed EU budget on the EU regional development programme, with particular reference to UK regional development regulations (RDRs); and when an announcement will be made on the next tranche of RDRs. 
Jim Knight: Based on the assumption that this question relates to UK rural development programmes which will be developed in light of the new Rural Development Regulation (EC Regulation No. 1698 of 2005) and come into force from 1 January 2007, the overall budget for rural development in Europe has been set at €69.75 billion for the period 200713.
The agreement on the EU budget deal allows member states, including the UK, to begin the necessary preparatory work for the next round of rural development programmes to run from 2007. The allocation of EU rural development funds to member states has yet to be determined and will be subject to proposals currently being devised by the European Commission. The figure of €69.75 billion is similar to current rural development expenditure, although the focus of this expenditure in the new financial perspective will be upon the new member states.
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Importantly, the agreed budget deal included a provision allowing member states, at their discretion, to transfer up to 20 per cent. of pillar 1 funds and make them available for expenditure on rural development measures. Decisions on the overall level of transfer needed will depend on the UK's share of EU funding for rural development, and on the overall size and content of the new rural development programmes to operate from 1 January 2007. In England, we hope to launch a public consultation on the next rural development programme in February 2006.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received about the BBC World Service's decision to cease broadcasting non-English language services in parts of eastern Europe, Thailand and Kazakhstan; and what assessment has been made of the likely impact of this decision. 
Mr. Straw: I have received representations from Members of Parliament and members of the public in the UK, as well as from some Governments and members of the public in the countries concerned. Many have expressed concern and opposition to the changes while some have endorsed the reprioritisation of the BBC World Service. The changes involved were decided on the basis of a thorough assessment of the reach and impact of all its language services. The overall impact of the closures has been judged to be low.
Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to reply to the letter of 31 October from the hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton regarding his constituent, Mr. M. A. Lindsay. 
Dr. Howells: My noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, replied to the letter of 31 October from the hon. Member on 7 December 2005.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost of maintaining his main departmental website was for the last year for which figures are available; and how many visitors there were to the site in each of the last 12 months. 
Ian Pearson: The cost of maintaining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Web Platform, which hosts all of the FCO's public facing websites for 200405 was £548,000. Costs for the main FCO website are included within this overall cost. The number of unique visits to the FCO website for each of the 12 months during that year were as follows:
Ian Pearson: The UK is concerned about governance, human rights and the detention of opposition leaders, journalists and members of civil society in Ethiopia. We have raised our concerns directly and at the highest level with the Ethiopian Government, most recently when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development visited Ethiopia on 18 January.
During his visit, my right hon. Friend called for an independent investigation into the alleged recent human rights violations in Oromiya; a prompt, fair and open judicial process for those currently detained; international jurists to observe the trials, and that an independent international organisation be allowed to inspect all the places where people are currently being detained. On 17 December 2005, in a meeting with my noble Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, Prime Minister Meles agreed to observation of trials of the opposition by international jurists, the first of whom has been appointed.
We remain committed to supporting poverty reduction and the democratisation process in Ethiopia. We will continue to work with the Government of Ethiopia, the international community and other stakeholders to make progress on human rights and governance in Ethiopia.
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