HIV/AIDS

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:25 pm on 11th December 2003.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Whip 3:25 pm, 11th December 2003

Clearly, I understand that, but it would be useful for hon. Members if stated objectives for that reorganisation were placed in the public domain so that we could assess whether they had been met.

Returning to the issue of leadership, the call for action document says:

"We will engage directly with leaders for example at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting."

I hope that the Minister will be able to set out exactly what—apart from the Mugabe incident—happened in relation to HIV/AIDS at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Was it discussed, and if so, what was the outcome of the discussions?

The document also refers to the annual forum on donor co-ordination, as have other hon. Members and the Minister. The first meeting is planned for early 2004, and I wonder whether the Minister will tell us when the meeting will take place, who is likely to attend, and what sort of items will be on the agenda. In the debate on 1 December, I referred to the priority that the Government have stated will be given to HIV/AIDS when they take over the G8 and the European Union presidencies. That is something I welcome. However, at the time I said that the Government had also decided that trade was to be a priority of the G8 and EU presidencies, and a couple of days ago, the Prime Minister said that climate change was going to be a priority of the G8 and EU presidencies. There is a point where everything cannot be a priority. I do not know whether there is a hierarchy of priorities that will be discussed under those presidencies, but I hope that the Minister will do all he can to ensure that the issue of HIV/AIDS is not lost because of the other priorities that will be discussed while the UK holds the presidency of those two groupings.

There is clearly a crisis in Africa with HIV/AIDS. The infection trend in the UK is worrying. There is the threat of a pandemic in Asia, which has not really kicked off yet. The Government's call for action is a strong start to the process, but there is still more room for consistency in relation to interdepartmental Government policy. We shall need to return to this subject again and again, because if we allow our attention to be diverted, millions more will die and millions more will be orphaned.