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Baroness Amos: In Uganda, the latest published figures (March 1998) of HIV prevalence rates reported from sentinel sites based in antenatal clinics show a consistent, if slow, decline since their peak in 1992. In urban Kampala, rates have fallen from a high of around 30 per cent. of all pregnant mothers attending clinics being positive in 1992 to around 15 per cent. in late 1997, while in rural areas the fall has been from a high of around 15 per cent. in 1992 to around 7 per cent. in late 1997. This downward trend is confirmed from a long term population-based study being conducted by the Medical Research Council in a rural area of Uganda where rates show a fall from 8.2 per cent. of the population studied being positive in 1990, to 6.9 per cent. in 1997. Early evidence also suggests a decline in prevalence in the urban areas of Kenya from 20.3 per cent. to 16.6 per cent. between 1995 and 1996, and we expect that 1997-98 figures will confirm this decline. We do not as yet have similar data for Tanzania but we are working closely with the Government of Tanzania on their response to the epidemic.
Incidence rates--that is the rate at which new infections are being acquired rather than what percentage of a population is positive--are much more difficult and costly to measure. However, evidence from the work done by the Medical Research Council in Uganda, while not reaching statistical significance, indicates that the general trend for incidence is also downwards. If true this is also good news, but there is some concern that the fall may be more pronounced in older age groups and that efforts to target preventive measures towards children and adolescents may need to be increased.
While the efforts of the Government of Uganda have resulted in it being the first country to report significant and sustained falls in the prevalence rate of HIV infection, a continued national and international effort will be required to maintain this decline. We have no plans to reduce our support, although the overall proportion of our expenditure directed specifically at HIV/AIDS activities may decline as a result of our increased support for Universal Primary Education and broader-based programmes in the health and other important pro-poor sectors.
The Lord Chancellor: In group actions it is usual practice for lead cases to be chosen which best illustrate the issues raised by the group as a whole. As with any litigation there is always a risk that a particular case will fail on its own facts. However, I am determined in reforming legal aid to ensure that taxpayers' money should only be expended on any case that has so strong a prospect of success and clear benefit to the individual
The Lord Chancellor: I cannot comment on the merits of individual cases. I am determined in reforming legal aid, however, to ensure that taxpayers' money should only be expended on any case that has so strong a prospect of success and clear benefit to the individual concerned that, if the individual was able to fund it out of own resources, he or she would do so and would accept the risk of litigation.
The Lord Chancellor: I cannot comment on the merits of individual cases. I am determined in reforming legal aid, however, to ensure that taxpayers' money should only be expended on any case that has so strong a prospect of success and clear benefit to the individual concerned that, if the individual was able to fund it out of own resources, he or she would do so and accept the risk of litigation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Government announced on 22 July 1997 at the Second Reading of the Social Security Bill their intention to bring non-cash vouchers into liability for Class 1 National Insurance in the same way as cash vouchers. The key principles of the proposals are to bring about greater alignment of tax and National Insurance and to bring greater fairness in the NI treatment of earnings. We are currently considering our
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The consultation on the proposals for the operation of Training and Enterprise Councils and Chambers of Commerce, Training and Enterprise (TECs/CCTEs) ended on 30 September. We are currently considering the responses received and deciding on any changes that will result to the remit, role and operational framework for TECs/CCTEs. Once we have completed this work, we will announce the outcome of our consultation and publish new strategic guidance for TECs/CCTEs which will clarify their remit.
Baroness Blackstone: I shall be announcing new National Learning Targets for England tomorrow. They will cover 16 year olds, young people post-school, adults and organisations, in addition to the targets for 11 year olds already announced. Copies will be placed in the Library.
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