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7 Feb 2006 : Column 1045W—continued

Russian Federation

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government have made of whether the practice of the Russian Federation meets the standards of the Energy Charter Treaty. [49692]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The obligations of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) on a signatory depend on whether it has ratified the treaty, is applying it provisionally or has opted out of provisional application. The Russian Federation has not ratified the Treaty but has agreed to
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provisional application in accordance with Article 45 of the Treaty. This places some obligations on the Russia Federation, but only to the extent that such provisional application is not inconsistent with its constitution, laws or regulations. An assessment of whether a particular signatory of the ECT meets its provisions could be made by individual companies, the Energy Charter Secretariat or other signatories or Contracting Parties. It is a particular feature of the Treaty that companies can take direct action against signatories if they are in dispute on a matter covered by the Treaty.

The Government takes an active interest in the implementation of the Treaty's obligations by signatories, in particular through the work undertaken by the Energy Charter Treaty Secretariat, but has not undertaken assessment of any particular signatory.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is Government policy to encourage that the Russian Federation ratify the Energy Charter Treaty. [49693]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Government have consistently encouraged the Russian Federation to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty and we continue to hope that they will do so.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Russian counterpart on the RussianFederation's ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty. [49694]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Energy security formed an important part of the discussions that took place on 3 October during the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council (PPC), co-chaired by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and on 4 October during the EU-Russia summit, hosted by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The discussion at the PPC included Russian ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty. Energy Minister Viktor Krishtenko led the Russian delegation to the PPC. President Putin led the delegation to the EU-Russia summit, accompanied by Foreign Minister Lavrov.


Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in securing the language rights of Kurdish speakers in Turkey since the agreement to begin talks on Turkish accession to the EU. [48998]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Reforms in Turkey have strengthened Kurdish rights, but progress since 2004 has been limited. Last December Turkey's Radio and Television High Council re-iterated their commitment to allowing local broadcasting in non-Turkish languages. Progress in Turkey's negotiations for accession to the European Union will depend on measures taken in a range of areas including the need to protect the rights of all citizens. We will continue to press the Turkish Government to extend the rights of the Kurds in Turkey.
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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many poultry owners in Northamptonshire are registered with her Department; and what the flock size is of each registered poultry owner. [38097]

Mr. Bradshaw [pursuant to the reply, 19 December 2005, Official Report, c. 2386W]: This answer was incorrect. The answer that we originally provided drew on a combination of state veterinary service (SVS) data and local knowledge. It is clear that our answer should have been based on information from the Great Britain Poultry Register, which was launched on 9 December 2005. The revised answer provides information from this source.

As of midnight on 20 December 2005, four poultry owners in Northamptonshire have registered eligible poultry premises on the new GB poultry register. The total numbers of poultry on each registered premises in Northamptonshire are as follows:

Eligible premises are required to register by 28 February 2006.


Church Legislation

Andrew Selous: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Commissioners have made of the extent to which the recent use of ministerial orders to amend church legislation has modified the convention that Parliament does not legislate for the Church of England without its consent. [48861]

Sir Stuart Bell: The recent amendment of Church legislation by Orders made by ministers under the Civil Partnership Act 2005 was handled entirely consistently with the convention that Parliament does not legislate for the Church of England without its consent. Consent was given on behalf of the Church, by the House of Bishops and the Archbishops' Council, both to the inclusion in the Act of the powers enabling ministers to make consequential and other changes to Church legislation and then to the specific changes to be made in reliance on those powers.

Ecclesiastical Law (Human Rights)

Andrew Selous: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what procedures are followed for the drafting of laws in response to judgments of the European Court of Human Rights which affect matters traditionally within the sphere of ecclesiastical law. [48860]

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Sir Stuart Bell: The European Court of Human Rights has not, to date, held any legislation specific to the Church of England to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Were it to do so, or were any such legislation considered to be incompatible having regard to a finding of the European Court of Human Rights, an assessment would need to be made in consultation with ministers of the changes needed to ensure compatibility and the most appropriate form of legislation required to do so.

In the event of the European Court of Human Rights making a finding of incompatibility in relation to some aspect of the general law which bore significantly upon the life of the Church, the Church would expect to be consulted, in the usual way, before ministers exercised the power conferred by s.10 Human Rights Act 1998. The Church has been consulted in this way as part of ministers' consideration of the implications of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in B and L v. United Kingdom, in which the Court held that the prohibitions under the Marriage Act 1949 on marriages between a person and the parent of their former spouse and between a person and the former spouse of their child were incompatible with Article 12 of the Convention.



Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how his Department is liaising with non-governmental organisations operating in Afghanistan on reconstruction. [48930]

Hilary Benn: DFID is currently providing over 70 per cent. of its total programme funding (£100 million) in 2005–06 through the Government of Afghanistan. The other 30 per cent. of our programme is channelled directly to service providers, including non-governmental organizations (NGO)s, consultants, and multilateral agencies. However, a large amount of the work we fund through the Government is implemented on their behalf by NGOs. DFID also funds NGO work in Afghanistan through its central Civil Society Challenge Fund, and through Programme Partnership Agreements with leading UK NGOs.

In order to reach more remote and insecure areas, DFID works alongside locally based organisations to promote conflict prevention and stabilisation. This kind of community outreach encourages local organisations to identify areas of need which can then be implemented through community managed projects. The Global Conflict Prevention Pool (a trilateral fund shared by DFID, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), is also active in funding local initiatives aimed at enhancing the prospects of peace and security.

DFID maintains regular dialogue with NGOs on security problems and other challenges to operating in Afghanistan. We also discuss wider policy issues with them. Most recently we co-funded a Civil Society Conference in Kabul which engaged Afghan civil society (including NGOs) in consultation on the
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Interim-Afghanistan National Development Strategy and sent two civil society representatives to the London Conference on Afghanistan on 31 January-1 February.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's priorities are for the (a) rebuilding of infrastructure and (b) establishment of criminal justice agencies in Afghanistan. [48931]

Hilary Benn: The rebuilding of Afghanistan cannot be achieved without significant investments in infrastructure; but given the scale of resources required, and the importance of donors working to their respective comparative advantages, we believe other donors are better placed to make these investments. The USA, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan in particular are investing in Afghanistan's infrastructure sector. A component of DFID's livelihoods work does however include support for small scale rural infrastructure, and for road construction through emergency employment and rural access programmes.

The re-establishment of a functioning justice system is widely acknowledged to be essential to improving security and stability in Afghanistan. DFID has been engaged in the development of the Afghan Government's 'Justice for All Strategy' which outlines what needs to be done to re-establish a fully functioning justice system, including for criminal justice. DFID together with other UK Government Departments is specifically engaged in strengthening those aspects of the criminal justice system which relate directly to investigation, prosecution and detention of those engaged in the trade in illicit narcotics.

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