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Legal Services

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what proposals she has for reforming the regulation of legal services. [70244]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: None. Neither I nor the Lord Chancellor have proposals for reforming the regulation of legal services at present.

Mentally Incapacitated People

Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what plans she has to bring forward legislation following the consultation paper "Making decisions: helping people who have difficulty in deciding for themselves". [70172]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government remain committed to reforming this important area of the law. When parliamentary time allows, they will legislate to improve and clarify the decision-making process for those who are unable to make decisions for themselves or who cannot communicate their decisions. In advance of securing parliamentary time, the Government are taking forward a number of initiatives which will benefit people today and enable legislation to be quickly effective. One such initiative is the best practice guidance leaflets proposed in the consultation paper referred to by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department with reference to the consultation on 'Making Decisions: Helping People who have Difficulty in Deciding for Themselves', what discussions she plans to have with elected members on the issue of extending legal protection for those patients who are unable to communicate for themselves. [70170]

Ms Rosie Winterton: When parliamentary time allows, the Government will legislate to improve and clarify the decision-making process for those who are unable to make decisions for themselves or who cannot communicate their decisions. I have already met some hon. Members at their request to discuss issues arising from this consultation paper, and recently took part in a parliamentary seminar to discuss the legislation. I would be happy to meet other hon. Members.

Clinical Negligence

Tim Loughton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many claimants have successfully claimed legal aid costs in clinical negligence cases against the NHS in the last (a) five, (b) 10 and (c) 20 years. [71100]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The information is not available in the form requested.

The number of publicly funded clinical negligence cases—reported as having been concluded—in which the claimant was successful in obtaining damages and full payment of their solicitor's costs, leaving no deficit on the legal aid fund was as follows:

(a) in the last five years—1997–98 to 2001–02—10,881
(b) in the last 10 years—1992–93 to 2001–02—19,568.

As a result of the changes to the Legal Services Commission's computer systems, information is not available for the last 20 years.

The figures exclude cases which were settled without costs in full, or which went to trial (the latter being a very small number). This means that the figures underestimate the success rate of cases because they exclude settled

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cases where most costs are recovered, save a residual claim against the legal aid fund for part of the costs; and cases which succeeded with full costs at trial.

The figures given do not relate exclusively to cases brought against the NHS. It is not possible to separate cases which involve the NHS from those which do not.


Telephone Bills (Pensioners Concessions)

Ms Walley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to discuss with the regulator concessions for pensioners' telephone bills; and if he will make a statement. [69765]

Miss Melanie Johnson: I have been asked to reply.

All telecoms customers, including pensioners, have benefited from price reductions of over 50 per cent. since 19984. In addition BT is required by Oftel to provide a Light User Scheme (LUS) targeted at low users, including pensioners. The LUS enables those on the scheme to obtain rebates on their total bill.

Children's Play Areas

Mark Tami: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance his Department gives to local authorities regarding the (a) provision and (b) size of children's play areas. [70399]

Mr. Caborn: I have been asked to reply.

In Wales, responsibility for Children's Play issues rests with the National Assembly for Wales, who are in the process of producing a play policy for Wales, and not with Whitehall Departments, who are only responsible for play matters in England.

In December 2000, DCMS produced a guidance document for English local authorities entitled "Creating Opportunities", which encourages local authorities to develop and implement Local Cultural Strategies. The guidance explicitly lists play as something to be within the scope of cultural strategies, encompassing: children's play, playgrounds and play activities, parks and open spaces.

DCMS also funded "Play as Culture", researched and published by Playlink, a document which provides detailed guidance about incorporating play in cultural strategies. It was co-sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the then Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and was publicised and disseminated via the Local Government Association (LGA), the Institute of Leisure and Management and Early Years Partnerships. There is also soon to be a weblink directly to the document on the Playlink website from the DCMS website and a second round of distribution is about to begin.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently revising "Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Sports, Recreation and Open Space" (PPG17) which will provide guidance on the provision of a full range of urban open spaces, including play space. The revision, along with associated good practice guidance, will provide guidance for improving local assessments of need for such spaces

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and for carrying out audits of existing spaces. While these will encourage the setting of local standards for provision of new spaces, they will not give any specific guidance on the size of play spaces.

Social Services

Clive Efford: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what has been the change in expenditure from original budget allocations in London boroughs on (a) children's social services, (b) older people, (c) learning disabilities, (d) mental health and (e) services for physically disabled in the last five years; [69152]

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Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Clive Efford: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average variation is from SSA for London local authority social services budgets (a) in cash and (b) as a percentage for (i) each borough and (ii) London as a whole in each of the last five years. [69146]

Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The tables compare personal social services standard spending assessment (SSA) with local authority social services budgets, which have been adjusted to make them comparable with SSA. The figures provided are for each local authority and for London as a whole, for each of the last five years.

Personal social services budgets for comparison with SSA

PSS SSABudgetBudgetPSS SSABudgetBudgetPSS SSABudgetBudget
1997–98 (£ million)1997–98 (£ million)Over SSA (percentage)1998–99 (£ million)1998–99 (£ million)Over SSA (percentage)1999–2000 (£ million)1999–2000 (£ million)Over SSA (percentage)
Inner London
City of London1.5615.819272.71.5635.189232.02.1414.943130.9
Hammersmith and Fulham46.98352.35011.447.20155.30717.247.45058.85124.0
Kensington and Chelsea40.37350.27824.541.48451.91225.142.92454.71627.5
Tower Hamlets59.03264.1108.663.51166.9315.470.13672.4233.3
Outer London
Barking and Dagenham30.89933.8969.733.45135.9757.540.11542.0544.8
Kingston upon Thames19.13525.90735.420.26926.54230.921.48328.14631.0
Richmond upon Thames25.25529.54117.026.44230.46615.227.73432.34816.6
Waltham Forest48.41153.59210.751.88756.3828.754.00158.6098.5
Total London1,549.0711,720.07011.01,626.3611,791.31210.11,679.8301,891.80312.6

PSS SSABudgetBudgetPSS SSABudgetBudget
2000–01 (£ million)2000–01 (£ million)Over SSA (percentage)2001–02 (£ million)2001–02 (£ million)Over SSA (percentage)
Inner London
City of London2.2345.290136.82.3496.849191.6
Hackney(21) 75.19076.4841.777.17175.216-2.5
Hammersmith and Fulham49.83258.18016.851.57758.72613.9
Kensington and Chelsea46.54956.99822.449.29057.80217.3
Tower Hamlets73.55773.7070.275.33176.5201.6
Outer London
Barking and Dagenham42.39143.7593.244.14845.7123.5
Kingston upon Thames22.45629.13429.723.38730.96532.4
Richmond upon Thames29.17133.21613.930.77933.5459.0
Waltham Forest56.11858.6784.656.90057.6561.3
Total London1,765.6981,910.8318.21,822.2302,001.1409.8

(21) Provisional 2000–02

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