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What steps they are taking to contain and eradicate sudden oak death virus (Phytopthora ramorum) following the report from the Central Science Laboratory on the epidemiology of natural outbreaks of Phytopthora ramorum; and what advice they are issuing to land owners and occupiers on this matter. [HL1338]
Lord Rooker: Defra, the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Government and the National Assembly for Wales are engaged in a joint programme to track down outbreaks of the fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, with containment and eradication action taken against all findings to prevent further spread.
The recently published report of a study by the Central Science Laboratory of the occurrence, distribution and control of the disease found that the current strategy of early removal of infected plants and surface leaf litter was proving successful in reducing infection and minimising further disease spread.
Ongoing monitoring of infected sites will continue to assess the outbreak situations and provide further epidemiological information for the development of strategies for the eradication and containment of P. ramorum.
We are continuing to involve and keep stakeholders informed of the action we are taking against P. ramorum. Guidance material on how to minimise the risk of introducing the disease and action to be taken in the event of an outbreak is available on the Defra and Forestry Commission websites.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The issue of the Greek Orthodox Halki seminary is routinely raised by the European Union as part of the political dialogue with Turkey, and highlighted in the European Commissions annual progress report on Turkeys accession (http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2007/nov/turkey_progress_reports_en.pdf). Furthermore, we raise this issue during bilateral discussions on freedom of religion.
Whether they will make representations to the Government of Turkey concerning the welfare and safety of Orhan Ant, a Protestant missionary in
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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We remain concerned about the safety of Christian priests and missionaries following a number of attacks during 2007. But the Turkish Government are providing and devoting a significant amount of additional police resources to provide protection to officially recognised Christian minorities and to other Christian groups.
There are currently no plans to make representations to the Turkish Government on the individual case of Orhan Ant. We are not aware of any direct request for UK assistance on this case and we have had no contact that would enable us to comment on his specific circumstances.
Lord Malloch-Brown: Officials from our embassy in Ankara regularly meet members of the Human Rights Association at its headquarters in Ankara and at provincial level. The Government support the development of strong civil society organisations in Turkey, particularly in the field of human rights.
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