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Mr. Douglas Alexander: We are committed to reaching a deal at the December European Council. Our position on the abatement remains as set out by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister before this House on 20 June 2005.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Before accession to the EU, Turkey must align its legislation to meet EU standards in 35 chapters of the acquis communitaire. The timescale of the negotiations will depend on progress in doing so. But, the EU and Turkey are both agreed that accession negotiations are likely to take at least 10 years.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Before accession to the EU, Turkey must align its legislation to meet EU standards in 35 chapters of the acquis communitaire. The time scale of the negotiations will depend on progress in doing so. But, the EU and Turkey are both agreed that accession negotiations are likely to take at least 10 years.
16. Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the governments of India and Pakistan on lifting the line of control following the recent earthquake. 
Dr. Howells: We shall be making clear to the Governments of India and Pakistan that we welcome their decision on 30 October to open five crossing points on the Line of Control for the delivery of humanitarian relief to those affected by the earthquake and to allow people to cross on foot, with the correct permits.
17. Mrs. Curtis-Thomas:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make
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a statement on the role that the British Council plays in promoting UK-based education programmes, with particular reference to engineering. 
Ian Pearson: The British Council's Education UK Partnership helps UK education providers recruit overseas students for all the subjects they offer, including engineering. In 200304, 325,760 overseas students studied in higher education establishments in the UK. Of these, 15,310 were engineering students. This represents a 2.7 per cent. increase in engineering students on the previous year.
Dr. Howells: The 18 September Afghan parliamentary and provincial elections represent a remarkable achievement for Afghanistan. The elections went relatively smoothly and there were no major security incidents. Voter turnout is estimated to be 6.8 million (53 per cent.), of which 43 per cent. were women who will be strongly represented in the new Parliament. The Electoral Complaints Commission is investigating allegations of fraud but we understand these are unlikely to significantly affect the final outcome.
19. Mrs. Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects the UN Security Council to make a decision on extending the mandate for the multinational force in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. 
At the request of the Iraqi Transitional Government, the resolution will seek to extend the mandate for the Multi-National Forces in Iraq, the Development Fund for Iraq and its International Advisory and Monitoring Board.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will quantify the (a) benefits and (b) disbenefits that have been accrued by the UK following the participation in the Iraqi invasion. 
Dr. Howells [holding answer 26 October 2005]: The decision to take military action against Iraq was not taken lightly. Whatever past divisions there have been over the decision to take military action, there is now a broad international consensus, expressed in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, that we and the rest of the international community should work with the Iraqi Government to help achieve a democratic, secure and prosperous Iraq, which poses no threat to its neighbours. We will not be in a position to quantify what benefits and disbenefits have accrued to the UK until our job in helping the Iraqi people is done. It is clear, however, that if the UK with the international community maintain their commitment to the goal of a democratic, secure and prosperous Iraq, there will be net benefit to the British people.
The Iraqi political process goes forward. The Iraqi people's enthusiastic participation in the January elections and the constitutional referendum on 15 October demonstrates Iraqis' appetite for a democratic process which can deliver accountable and effective government.
On reconstruction, the Iraqis are in the lead on coordinating donor support. The UK is playing its part. The Department for International Development has so far committed more than £417 million to humanitarian and reconstruction in Iraq, and has spent more than £275 million. There have been significant achievements despite all the challenges: there is a stable economy with low inflation; more power is generated; more people have access to drinking water and sewerage systems; there has been a decline in disease rates for malaria, polio, measles, and mumps; an independent media is flourishing; and 2,500 NGOs are registered with the Iraq Transitional Government.
The UK is working closely with the Iraqis and with Coalition partners to rebuild Iraq's security institutions. We currently run projects to rebuild Iraq's military, police and the prison services in the South East of Iraq, and projects to increase the governance capacity of the Ministry of the Interior in Baghdad. We are doing all we can, along with the rest of the international community, to support the Iraqi security forces in their efforts to improve their capacity and effectiveness in tackling the security situation.
Clearly our commitment has not been without cost to us, both in strict resource terms but also, most importantly, in terms of British lives lost. I very much regret the loss of life among British forces (and the multi-national force more broadly) and among Iraqi civilians. The overwhelming reason people are dying in Iraq is because terrorists are killing them. There is no 100 per cent. reliable and accurate assessment of casualties in Iraq. What is clear is that any civilian death, in whatever circumstances, is one too many.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list opinion surveys of the Iraqi people conducted with United Kingdom financial support in the last 12 months. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has funded one public opinion survey in Iraq in the last 12 months. The survey was carried out in seven cities in November 2004. The survey sought information on
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Iraqis' views on the democratic transition process, the proposed January 2005 elections, their employment status and their media consumption.
Ian Pearson: As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has said, promoting democracy has to be at the heart of our foreign policy". We actively support the development of democratic institutions around the world so that all people should have Governments which are effective, accountable and representative.
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