§ 16. Dr. Naysmith
If he will make a statement on the performance of community legal service partnerships. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. David Lammy)
Community legal service partnerships have greatly improved the delivery of advice and guidance by co-ordinating the work of providers in response to locally identified need. The recently completed independent review of the community legal service enables us to build on that significant achievement by making recommendations for the future development of the partnership.
§ Dr. Naysmith
I thank my hon. Friend for that interesting reply. My constituency is unusual in that it spans two local authority areas. The partnerships work well in one area, but have been disbanded in the other. The voluntary sector was keen in both areas. Senior officers and the private sector in one local authority are committed to the scheme, which makes it possible to identify resources, and that has been very useful. In the other area, however, there was a lack of involvement by senior officers, and private firms were only marginally involved. Can the Minister suggest ways to encourage local authorities and the private sector to get involved? Will he perhaps make some funds available to start the process when need is identified?
§ Mr. Lammy
I know that my hon. Friend does excellent work with the advice sector in his community, but I remind him that we spend £900 million on civil legal aid in this country. Also, I refer him to the Matrix review, the first review of the CLSPs, which makes a number of recommendations. It welcomes the establishment of the CLSPs, but it also calls for the appointment of an executive director to give them greater coherence. Other recommendations are the adoption of a three-year strategy and a programme board. I am considering those recommendations, and will be happy to discuss the matter further with my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. David Kidney (Stafford) (Lab)
Does my hon. Friend the Minister accept that the first stage of the CLSPs has been a success, in that a full geographic coverage has been established, but that we must now make the second stage of the process a success? That is, we need to tie in more firmly all those partners that must co-operate. They include voluntary sector agencies, private legal service providers and, crucially, local government. What is being done to tie in local government and secure its commitment to the success of the CLSPs?
§ Mr. Lammy
We now have 99 per cent. coverage across the country, which is a tremendous improvement on the situation of three years ago. At that time, people did not know where the resources were, it was not possible to refer people for advice, and there was no quality benchmarking process for the advice that people received. However, further progress remains to be made. We must ensure that there is greater coherence and definition, and that involves working more closely with local government.