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Nia Griffith: Does my hon. Friend agree that it can sometimes be a long process for someone to explain a situation to what we might call a lay adviser? That time is well used, because the lay adviser takes up only a small amount of the specialist adviser's time. This is particularly relevant given the geography of Wales. For example, it is difficult for many of my constituents to benefit from some of the services that the Minister has mentioned. I therefore ask her to reconsider this matter. We need to think carefully about how we use volunteer time, which we have all agreed we want to promote.

Bridget Prentice: I can assure my hon. Friend that I will continue to consider the situation and to monitor its progress. I agree that there are times when specialist advice is appropriate, and others when non-specialist advice is appropriate. I want to see more partnership working to create the opportunity for far more people to get advice.

It has been six years since the Community Legal Service was established, and it now seems right to focus on how we provide specialist legal services. I can assure all my hon. Friends who have participated in this debate that I will continue to monitor the situation carefully, and I would be very pleased to hear feedback from them on how the proposals have impacted on their constituents. The most important thing that we can achieve through the Legal Services Commission and through the provision of specialist and general advice to consumers is to ensure that those consumers receive quality advice at the time when they need it.

Question put and agreed to.

2 Feb 2006 : Column 577

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