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18 Dec 2003 : Column 1115Wcontinued
David Winnick: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs when the hon. Member for Walsall North will receive a reply to his letter of 13 November to Lord Filkin on the release of the 1911 Census records. 
Mr. Webb: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of the introduction of compulsory identity cards for the Department. 
Denzil Davies: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to his Answer of 8 December, Official Report, columns 35051W, on the Electoral Commission, how potential applicants for the position of Chair and/or member of the Electoral Commission were informed that an open competition would be held; and how many applicants indicated that they wished to be considered for the position of Chair. 
Mr. Leslie: The selection process for appointments for the position of Chair and/or member of the Electoral Commission began in April 2000 with publication in the press of advertisements inviting applications to fill the posts.
Denzil Davies: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs pursuant to his Answer of 8 December 2003, Official Report, columns 35051W, on the Electoral Commission, if he will list the members of the selection panel which decided who should become Chair of the Electoral Commission. 
Mr. Leslie: The members of the selection panel which decided who should become Chair of the Electoral Commission were: Elizabeth Filkin, the then Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards; Sylvia Denman, an academic lawyer specialising in equal opportunity issues; and Nigel Varney, the then Head of the Home
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John Barrett: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many and what percentage of staff in his Department contribute to a charity through the Give as You Earn scheme; how much money is donated to charity per month by staff in his Department through the scheme; and what steps he is taking to encourage greater participation in the scheme by staff in his Department. 
Mr. Lammy: Currently, 534 members of staff in the Department for Constitutional Affairs contribute to charity via the Give as You Earn scheme. This represents a little over 4 per cent. of total staff in the Department. In November 2003 contributions to charity under the scheme totalled £4,839. My Department has had discussions with "The Giving Campaign" to determine what more can be done to encourage contributing to charity through payroll, and as a first step we are planning in co-operation with them to promote the present arrangements in the Department's staff magazine early in the New Year.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs if he will make a statement on the implications for private practice in criminal work of the consolidation of the number of solicitors' firms to be supported under the legal aid franchise. 
Mr. Lammy: The Legal Services Commission manages contracts with solicitors' offices which provide a comprehensive national network of quality assured legal services. The Commission is obliged by statute to ensure it achieves value for money and has therefore recently announced its intention to further develop its approach to contracting CDS services. In major urban areas, where services are often supplied through a multiplicity of relatively small contracted offices, this is likely to result in a reduction in the number of contracted offices, each undertaking greater volumes of work, but no reduction in the overall availability of services to the public. Outside the major urban areas, and particularly in rural areas, the Commission will be looking to provide arrangements which support and encourage supply in ways which recognise the need for access to quality services and the particular challenges facing solicitors in these areas.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what account is being taken in the Draft Mental Incapacity Bill of measures to improve support for people with learning disabilities requiring help to reach decisions affecting their future health needs. 
Mr. Leslie: The Draft Mental Incapacity Bill will greatly improve decision making for people with learning disabilities by setting out the key principles that everyone must be assumed to have capacity and that 'all practicable steps' must be taken to help people make their own decisions. This will provide empowerment for people with learning difficulties in all decision making.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs what his plans are for the draft Bill on mental incapacity; and what his policy is on the timing of that draft Bill in relation to the revised Mental Health Bill. 
Mr. Leslie: A draft Mental Incapacity Bill was scrutinised by a Joint Committee during the summer and their report was published on 28 November. My Department is working together with the Department of Health and stakeholders to consider the Committee's recommendations. We will seek to introduce the Bill in the current session of Parliament. With regard to the revised Mental Health Bill, there is no relationship between the timings of the two Bills, but I am aware that the Mental Health Bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny early next week. My Department continues to work closely with the Department of Health to ensure that the proposals are consistent with each other.
Mr. Lammy: The Legal Services Commission opened two further Public Defender Service offices in 2003, making a total of eight offices. There are no current plans to open further offices before the end of the four-year pilot in 2005. But the Government and the LSC have always said that the PDS provides a flexible option to deliver criminal defence services where existing provision is low, or of poor quality. We will review the future role of the PDS in the provision of criminal defence services, taking into consideration the researchers' evaluations of the PDS.
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(3) what steps are being taken to support services development for people with aphasia based on accurate measures of need and performance; 
(4) what steps are being taken to improve access to speech and language therapy for aphasic people. 
Mr. Hutton: Primary care trusts have the responsibility of improving the health of the community, securing the provision of high quality services, and integrating health and social care locally. They have the resources to commission services, and to identify the number of professional staff that they need to deliver those services. This process provides the means for addressing local health needs within the community including the provision of speech and language therapy. No steps are being taken centrally to develop or produce measures of either the severity of aphasia or treatment outcomes.
Miss Melanie Johnson: There is a national patient information leaflet produced by the National Blood Service for patients who may receive a blood transfusion. The leaflet includes a section on alternatives to blood transfusionsalthough this is directed principally at surgical rather than cancer patients. When the leaflet is next reviewed consideration will be given to providing more information on other possible alternatives to blood transfusion. In addition, guidance on information provision for cancer patients will be included in the supportive and palliative care guidance currently being produced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence for publication next year.
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