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|Number of employees|
The above figures include those who have retired voluntarily with an actuarially reduced pension, those who have retired with benefits under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme and those who have retired on ill-health grounds.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on progress of the investigation into the provision of legal aid for the footballer El Hadji Diouf. 
Bridget Prentice: There is no current investigation, nor is any planned, into the decision to award El Hadji Diouf legal aid. Under the existing arrangements and rules, criminal legal aid representation depends on the applicant satisfying the Interests of Justice test. In the case of El Hadji Diouf, there is no reason to believe that there was any misapplication of this test.
While an applicant for criminal legal aid representation does not currently have to pass a financial eligibility test, the Criminal Defence Service Bill, presently before Parliament, will provide for the re-introduction of means testing for defendants appearing before the criminal courts.
To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what action her
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Department is taking to encourage people under the age of 30 years to vote in (a) general, (b) local and (c) European elections. 
Ms Harman: The Department for Constitutional Affairs is, looking at ways to raise awareness of the registration process and encourage people and particularly young people to register to vote. Young people have low levels of electoral registration. We have been making new links with young people's groups to consider how to take this work forward.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps her Department proposes to take regarding the failure of (a) local authorities and (b) Pickfords to provide marked registers; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Harman: Officials from my department have previously been made aware that the marked registers of a number of constituencies were incomplete. As of 2 November 2005, the missing sections of 42 per cent. of these incomplete marked registers had been located. Pickfords are continuing to carry out searches to locate as many of the remaining missing marked registers as possible.
The Electoral Administration Bill will provide that at future UK Parliamentary elections, the marked registers for England and Wales will be stored locally, and the duty to provide copies will fall to the local electoral registration officer.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what (a) controls and (b) restrictions exist to prevent election candidates using freepost mailings for solely commercial purposes. 
Ms Harman: Section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 states that an election candidate's freepost mailing must contain matter relating to the election only. It is illegal to use the freepost mailing system for commercial purposes.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the proposal in the Electoral Administration Bill to lower the threshold of votes for retaining deposits on freepost mailings being used for commercial purposes. 
The proposal in the Electoral Administration Bill to lower the threshold for retention of deposits in parliamentary elections will have no effect on freepost mailings being used for commercial purposes. Section 91 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 states that an election candidate's freepost mailing must contain matter relating to the election only. It is illegal to use the freepost mailing system for commercial purposes. The Royal Mail administer a vetting system to ensure that candidates' freepost literature does not include commercial material.
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Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on the provisions available for enabling the severely disabled to vote in general elections; and what changes to current provisions are envisaged. 
Ms Harman: At present, a tactile voting device is available in polling stations for blind and visually impaired voters, and voters with disabilities can vote with the assistance of a companion or the Presiding Officer. Also, electors with disabilities may apply to have a postal or proxy vote if they are unable to access their local polling station.
The Electoral Administration Bill will extend the current provisions for voters with disabilities. It includes a duty on local authorities to undertake a review of polling places at least every four years; and, allows electoral administrators to provide information in other formats, such as Braille or through graphical representation.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she is taking to use (a) technology and (b) other means to make it easier for the elderly to vote in elections. 
Ms Harman: The Government are committed to increasing everyone's participation in the electoral process and are continuing to look at a number of ways of modernising the electoral process through its Electoral Modernisation programme. This includes the piloting of innovations at local elections and introducing changes to the electoral process through the Electoral Administration Bill, with the aim of making voting straightforward, efficient, secure and readily accessible to all electors, including the elderly.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what recent representations her Department has received on reform of the first-past-the-post electoral system. 
Ms Harman: Over the three-month period 1 October 2005 to 31 December 2005 the DCA received 16 letters from members of the public and also two parliamentary questions on voting systems reform and review.
The Electoral Commission's 2005 report Understanding Electoral Registration" contained an analysis of the electoral registers at 1 December 2000. This included the estimate that 17 per cent. of people from minority ethnic groups in England and Wales were not registered to vote in 2000. The equivalent figure for the white population was 6 per cent.
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However, these estimates do not explicitly take account of electoral non-eligibility on grounds of nationality. In order to register to vote in the UK, resident adults are required to hold UK, Irish, Commonwealth or EU nationality.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many meetings of the EU Committee on the jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and in matters of paternal responsibility for children of both spouses and on the jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I and II) have taken place during the UK presidency of the EU; who presided over each meeting; what other UK representatives were present; what provision was made for representation of the devolved governments; and if she will make a statement. 
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