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The Lord Chancellor: We have today published a report giving details of the Government's conclusions following consultation on these proposals. The introduction of these changes to the financial eligibility tests for funding in civil cases will move towards alignment of the eligibility limits for all levels of publicly funded legal services, provide simplified means testing arrangements for both applicants and suppliers and ensure a fair balance between publicly and privately funded litigants.
We are raising the income and capital threshold for Legal Help so that an estimated 5 million more people can get the advice and assistance on everyday problems that they need. We will not be introducing contributions for Legal Help so all eligible clients will be able to receive legal advice entirely free of charge.
We have listened carefully to the responses and we will not be introducing capital contributions from equity at the present time. We believe the implementation of these proposals might deter low-income homeowners from seeking legal advice.
We will fully equalise the income eligibility limit for Legal Help with Legal Representation as soon as it financially prudent to do so. This will bring a further 2 million people into the scope of the Community Legal Service Fund.
The cost of these changes is £30 million over three years. We have been able to spend this money on increasing eligibility because of the success of our legal aid reforms in controlling and refocusing expenditure on priorities.
We undertook to consult on the new eligibility limits for all levels of service once they were available, and a consultation paper has been published today. Consultation will run until 1 May 2001. These changes will be implemented on 1 October 2001.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are advised by the Food Standards Agency that the German meat concerned was not dyed as unfit for human consumption before being returned to Germany.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I refer the noble Lord to Council Regulation EC No. 1466/97 of 7 July 1997, which strengthens the surveillance and co-ordination of member states' economic policies, and to Regulation EC No. 1467/97, also of 7 July 1997, which clarifies the implementation of the excessive deficits procedure. These regulations (then proposals) were submitted to Parliament under cover of a comprehensive Explanatory Memorandum on 3 June 1997.
In Africa, DFID has funded the Programme for Co-ordination and Assistance for Security and Development, which is operating in West African states. The project includes the collection and destruction of surplus weapons, establishment of a database and regional arms register and training programmes for the military, security and police forces.
DFID is funding Saferworld to develop strategies and programmes addressing the proliferation of small arms and to strengthen the co-operative efforts to prevent conflict in Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa--as well as Central and Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe and the Trans Caucasus. This programme also involves working collaboratively with southern NGOs, including the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa. As part of the programme two workshops will be held in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region later this year. The workshops will engage officials in the region and will specifically address demobilisation and reintegration as well as weapons collection and destruction. DFID is also continuing support of Sierra Leone's Disarmament and Reintegration Programme, including the provision of technical assistance.
Under the proposed "Global Conflict Prevention Pool Initiative", DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence have developed a joint strategy for curbing small arms misuse. A central component of this strategy will be to provide weapons collection and stockpile management systems.
Baroness Amos: Affordable prices are a key component of strategies to improve access to essential medicines in developing countries. The Government believe that negotiations with, and providing increased incentives to, the pharmaceutical industry will have a greater impact on prices and access than reducing patent life (which may have a negative impact on research and development investment). At the International Action Against Child Poverty Conference (February 26), the Government announced a proposal for a new and innovative global purchase fund for drugs and vaccines. This will increase access by providing a strong incentive to the
The Government are already contributing to international partnerships between the public and private sectors, which results in reduced prices in developing countries. The Government also welcome the Accelerating Access to HIV/AIDS-related Care and Treatment Initiative. This partnership between UNAIDS and a group of pharmaceutical companies is reducing the cost of anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS in developing countries. This is a useful first step, although more needs to be done in terms of transparency and further price discounts. The price of drugs is one component of access. The Government also continue to work with developing country governments to strengthen basic health systems, without which the poorest will be unable to access the necessary drugs.
Baroness Amos: The Government disagree with China's one-child policy. UK assistance for sexual and reproductive health anywhere in the world is provided in support of the principles of free and informed choice. Our annual grants to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) support their work throughout the world, including China. Both organisations have programmes in China aimed at promoting better understanding of international standards in reproductive health. We will continue to work in partnership with these organisations to try to secure greater respect for reproductive rights in China.
Baroness Amos: Both the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) are working in China to promote understanding and adoption of internationally agreed standards in reproductive health.
The incident in Hubei Province is deplorable, and the Government remain concerned about reports of reproductive abuses and other human rights abuses in China. But we also believe that programmes of the kind supported by UNFPA can contribute to improving policy and practice, and to helping to bring about a climate where coercion and abuse will no longer be tolerated.
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