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Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what involvement the UK Government had in the drafting of Order 81, issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, which prohibits the saving of seed by Iraqi farmers. 
Mr. Rammell: UK Government officials in Iraq, as members of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), and other officials in the UK were consulted and invited to comment during the drafting of CPA Order 81. The Order was the subject of consultation and co-ordination with the Iraqi Governing Council, and was consistent with the needs identified by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the development of Iraq and its transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy.
The provisions of CPA Order 81 concern the registration and protection of intellectual property rights in new plant varieties. The Order should not affect the ability of Iraqi farmers to save seeds from traditional sources. Any restrictions would relate only to patented biotech inventions or protected plant varieties. This is the normal effect of introducing such an intellectual property law. To secure protection, plant varieties would have needed to have been shown to be new, distinct from other varieties in common knowledge, uniform and stable. Farmers will have a choice of sources for their seed supply: they may choose to continue using current sources, such as saving their own seeds of traditional and unprotected varieties, or may choose to buy seeds which are subject to patent or plant variety rights protection.
The implementation, application and interpretation of all CPA orders is now a matter for the Iraqis. The newly elected Transitional National Assembly, together with the Iraqi Transitional Government, have the power to overturn or rewrite any existing CPA Orders that they feel do not address the needs and rights of the Iraqi people.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have taken place between the UK and Kazakhstan regarding the proposed autumn 2005 closure of Almaty airport to international arrivals into Kazakhstan and the diversion of all international flights to Astana; and what assessment has been made of the effect of this change on UK-Kazakhstan (a) bilateral relations and (b) trade. 
Mr. Rammell: Discussions are ongoing with the Kazakhstan authorities but the Government have made clear their opposition to their proposals for Astana to become the sole point of entry for international flights from certain European countries. The Government are discussing with UK airlines, and with other European countries, what the implications of this might be for future aviation links with Kazakhstan. We are also discussing the possible wider implications with British businesses.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made by his Department of the prospects for free and fair elections in Kyrgyzstan on 27 February; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Rammell: President Akaev and his Government have declared their commitment to holding fair and transparent elections in line with fundamental human rights. We have welcomed this commitment and we have been supporting efforts to fulfil itbilaterally and through the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU. These elections are an opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to demonstrate that they are leading the way towards democracy in Central Asia. However, several NGOs have raised concerns about the conduct of these elections including on the freedom of the media and freedom of expression. The international community will keenly await the findings of the OSCE/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation Mission and others who have been present in Kyrgyzstan over the election period.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what types of assistance have been given to the global conflict prevention pool since its inception in 2001 for the specific purpose of tackling the causes of the conflict in Nepal; if his Department will continue assistance to foster a democratic Nepalese state following the actions of King Gyanendra since 1 February 2004; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: The global conflict pool has funded many activities aimed at tackling the underlying causes of conflict in Nepal. These causes include poverty, social injustice, corruption and human rights violations. We have funded the following activities to address them:
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence (Mr. Ingram) notified Parliament of the withdrawal of our proposed package of military assistance to Nepal on 21 February 2005, Official Report, columns 25253W. In his reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Clare Short) on Nepal he stated:
In light of the recent events in Nepal, the Government has decided to withdraw the minute relating to the gift of military equipment rending a full review of our policy with regard to the provision of military assistance and equipment to Nepal".
We remain deeply concerned by the King's assumption of power on 1 February 2005. Such is the level of our concern that on 14 February the Foreign Secretary temporarily recalled our ambassador in Nepal for consultations. We will continue to work to secure a peaceful, durable and democratic resolution to the conflict. I have already made a statement calling for the immediate restitution of multi-party democracy. A copy of my statement is available on the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk/policy/news/press-releases.
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Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will halt the provision of military equipment and training to the Government of Nepal following recent actions by King Gyanendra; what assessment he has made of reports of human rights abuses by the Nepali security forces; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Alexander: The UK is deeply concerned by the King's assumption of power in Nepal on 1 February. Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, we have been providing non-lethal military assistance to Nepal including training and equipment to help enhance bomb disposal efforts and intelligence gathering capabilities, and to increase the accuracy of the army's legitimate counter insurgency operations.
On 14 February my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary recalled our Ambassador in Nepal to London for consultations. Following those consultations with our Ambassador and other key international partners we decided to withdraw the proposal, laid before Parliament in a minute of 20 January 2005, for a further tranche of military assistance to Nepal. I refer my right hon. Friend to the reply my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence gave her on 21 February 2005, Official Report, columns 25253W.
We are deeply troubled by numerous credible reports of severe human rights violations by the Maoists and the Nepalese security forces. We have regularly criticised Nepal's poor human rights record. We have also funded projects working with the armed forces and the police to improve their understanding and respect for human rights. When I visited in Nepal in November 2004 Iunderlined the strong importance the UK attaches to human rights with all my interlocutors, including the King.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost of processing an international student visa was in the last year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Mullin: Visa fees are set at a level to ensure that the full cost of providing the world-wide entry clearance service is met entirely from fee income and that no part of the cost is met by the UK taxpayer. Since 1 July 2002, the student visa fee has been £36, which is considerably below the cost of processing. The levels of all visa fees are currently under review to ensure that the full cost of the visa service is being met.
Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what percentage of international visas issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were student visas in the last year for which figures are available. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued 1,836,362 visas in the year from 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004. Of these, 146,736 were issued to students. This is approximately 8 per cent. of the total of visas issued.
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Figures for April 2004-March 2005 are not yet available. When they are, they can be found, along with further entry clearance statistics, on the UK visas website at www.ukvisas.gov.uk-Entry Clearance: Facts and Figures".
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