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Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the performance of the Law Society in meeting her target for the satisfactory handling of complaints, as determined by the Legal Services Complaints Commission, in (a) 2004 and (b) 2005 to date; and if she will make a statement. 
Bridget Prentice: The Legal Services Complaints Commissioner (LSCC) was appointed in February 2004 to work with the Law Society to improve complaints handling. In September 2004 the LSCC set targets for the Law Society's performance for 20052006. The Law Society began formally reporting against those targets in April 2005.
The Government is encouraged by the progress that the Law Society is making, as evidenced by its performance against the LSCC's targets for the first quarter. Nevertheless, the Government looks forward to continued improvement.
The following table shows the Law Society's complaints handling performance in timeliness, customer satisfaction and quality of decisions against the LSCC targets. These figures are for the first quarter of 200506 (April to June 2005).
|April 2005 to|
|Cases cleared within:|
|Quality of decision||62||(25)70|
|April 2004 to|
|Cases cleared within:|
|Quality of decision||62||75|
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what response he plans to make to the European Court of Human Rights ruling that denying prisoners the vote is a breach of their human rights; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: The Government is giving urgent consideration to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Hirst v. The United Kingdom and will bring forward proposals in due course.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many remand prisoners were eligible to vote in each of the last three general elections; and how many exercised their right to vote in each. 
Ms Harman: The information sought is not available. The Representation of the People Act 2000 made it possible for prisoners on remand, who are otherwise eligible to vote, to register to vote from their place of detention. HM Prison Service records the total number of remand prisoners though no separate record is kept of those remand prisoners who are eligible to vote. Records are not kept of whether particular categories of voters have exercised their right to vote at UK elections.
Hywel Williams: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many cases of death or injury caused by unsafe gravestones were recorded in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what governance arrangements for child protection services are in place between trusts, boards and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland. 
Mr. Woodward: The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety provides legislation, policy and procedural guidance to enable boards and trusts to safeguard children and promote their welfare. The Department is responsible for ensuring that boards and trusts have established satisfactory arrangements for the discharge of all child protection functions under the Children (NI) Order 1995 and other relevant legislation and guidance. The Department ensures this through a range of accountability, reporting and monitoring mechanisms.
Boards are responsible for planning to meet child protection needs within their areas through the Children's Services planning process and for commissioning from trusts the full range of child protection services. Each Board has an Area Child Protection Committee overseeing child protection arrangements throughout the board area. Each board is responsible for ensuring that trusts have proper arrangements in place to fulfil all relevant child protection functions under the Children Order, which the Board has delegated to them. Boards have the authority to monitor, evaluate and inspect services directly and to require Trusts to provide them with information on any matter related to the discharge of relevant child protection functions.
Trusts are responsible in law for the discharge of all relevant child protection functions delegated to them by boards. They are accountable to boards and through them to the Department for ensuring that child protection services are provided in accordance with the arrangements set out in the boards' schemes for delegation of statutory functions and to any standards prescribed under the authority of the schemes.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what the implications are for dementia sufferers in Northern Ireland of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommendation that certain dementia medications should no longer be available through the NHS; and if he will make a statement. 
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence is reviewing its 2001 appraisal of medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. As part of this review, the Institute has produced, and consulted on, draft preliminary recommendations that the drugs donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and memantine should not be routinely used in treating new patients in the NHS. Following consultation, the institute has deferred publication of its final guidance on these drugs until early next year.
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The Department will consider what action is appropriate for Northern Ireland in light of the institute's final guidance on the dementia drugs;
Mr. Woodward: The clinical resource and efficiency support team (CREST) produced interim guidance on new drugs for dementia in February 1998. This guidance covered the drug donepezil, and is available on the CREST website. CREST has issued a letter indicating that the guidance should also apply to the drug rivastigmine.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the obligations are on the Chief Accounting Officer to act in the event of an Education and Library Board acting outside its agreed financial scheme. 
Angela E. Smith: The NDPB Accounting Officer Memorandum in Government Accounting Northern Ireland (GANI) makes clear that, where the Board or Chairperson of any non-departmental public body, including an Education and Library Board, is contemplating a course of action which the Chief Executive as the main Accounting Officer considers would infringe the requirements of propriety or regularity, including the requirement to deliver services within the budget allocated by the Department and voted by Parliament, he/she should set out in writing his/her objection to the proposal; the reasons for this objection and his/her duty to notify the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) should his/her advice be overruled. If the Board decides nonetheless to proceed, the Accounting Officer should seek a written instruction from the Board to take the action in question. He/she should also inform the departmental Accounting Officer of the position, if possible, before the Board takes its decision so that the Department can intervene with the Board. If the outcome is that the Chief Executive is overruled, the Board's instruction should be communicated without undue delay to the Board's external auditors and C&AG.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under what circumstances a chief accounting officer would be obliged to inform the (a) Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education, (b) Comptroller and Auditor General and (c) Northern Ireland Audit Office that an Education and Library Board has acted outside its financial scheme. 
Angela E. Smith:
The NDPB Accounting Officer Memorandum in Government Accounting Northern Ireland (GANI) makes clear that, where the Board or Chairperson of a non-departmental public body is contemplating a course of action which the Chief Executive as the main Accounting Officer considers would infringe the requirements of propriety and regularity, including the requirement for public bodies to live within
13 Oct 2005 : Column 603W
the financial allocations voted by Parliament, approved by the Department, the designated Accounting Officer must inform the departmental Accounting Officer, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) and the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO).
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