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15 Feb 2000 : Column WA137

Written Answers

Tuesday, 15th February 2000.

Small Business Service

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What forms of advice they intend farmers to use the Small Business Service for.[HL919]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): In creating the Small Business Service (SBS), the Government intend to provide a strong voice for small business at the heart of government, improve the quality and coherence of business support and help small businesses to meet the demands of regulation. The aim is to ensure easy access to advice and information on regulatory and business issues for all small businesses, including farmers.

General Medical Council: Adverse Findings

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many National Health Service consultant psychiatrists have been (a) erased and (b) suspended by the General Medical Council in each of the years from 1992 to date; and what was the effect on the consultant's contract of each case of suspension; and[HL871]

    What arrangements are in place to disseminate in the National Health Service adverse findings made against doctors by the Professional Conduct Committee and Committee for Professional Performance of the General Medical Council; and whether they are satisfied with such arrangements.[HL872]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): This information is held by the General Medical Council (GMC). They inform us that there was one psychiatrist erased, and one suspended from the Medical Register in 1995, and one suspended and subsequently erased in 1998. Matters relating to a consultant's contract are between the doctor and the National Health Service employer. In cases where consultants are erased from the Medical Register, the contract with the employer becomes void and the doctor is no longer able to practise medicine. In cases of suspension from the GMC register, the consultant is not able to work in the NHS until the suspension is withdrawn.

It is a contractual requirement that all doctors who work in the NHS are registered with the GMC.

Adverse findings against doctors made by the Professional Conduct Committee and the Committee for Professional Performance are sent to NHS trusts

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and health authorities in the form of a Health Service Circular. We are currently reviewing the present arrangements.

Armed Forces Pay Review Report

Lord Clarke of Hampstead asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the recommendations of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body report.[HL1050]

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The 2000 Report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body has been published today. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. We are grateful to the Chairman and members of the Review Body for the work they have put into them.

In the Comprehensive Spending Review the Government made it clear that public sector pay settlements would need to be fair and affordable and support budgeted public service improvements. In making their recommendations, the AFPRB have taken into account a number of considerations, including the recruitment, retention and motivation of the Armed Forces and have recommended an increase in basic military salary of 3.3 per cent for all ranks, with the exception of Privates, Lance Corporals, Captains and Lieutenants, who should receive 3.8 per cent. An increase of 1 per cent in X Factor is also recommended. The X Factor, which has not been reviewed for five years, is paid as an addition to basic pay and reflects the differences between conditions of service experienced by members of the Armed Forces over a full career and conditions in civilian life, which cannot be taken directly into account in assessing pay comparability. The graduate starting salary is set at £18,126 per annum. There are also some increases in Additional Pay (eg Flying Pay, Submarine Pay and Hydrographic Pay) and in Longer Separated Service Allowance/Bonus.

These recommendations will fully support the Armed Forces strategic personnel policies, in particular in relation to recruitment and retention, The additional cost to the Defence Budget will be £260 million. This will be met within existing departmental expenditure limits.

The AFPRB's recommendations are to be accepted in full, with implementation effective from 1 April 2000.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to alter the current status of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) and, if so, how this will affect personnel serving within QARNNS.[HL1049]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Following a comprehensive review, the Queen Alexandra's Royal Nursing Sevice (QARNNS) will be incorporated into the Royal Navy (RN) from 1 April 2000 as the Service's specialised nursing branch. QARNNS is currently a separate Service within the Naval Service.

This will bring the status of QARNNS into line with that of the Army and RAF. It will also mean that QARNNS personnel commissioned or engaged into the RN from 1 April 2000 will be available for reserve service once they leave the RN. QARNNS ratings currently have no liability for reserve service.

The terms and conditions of service of existing QARNNS personnel will be unaffected by this change.

Hijacks: Handling Policy

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the fact that Stansted now handles more than 9 million passengers a year, and those numbers are rising, they will consider designating a less busy airport for hijacked airliners.[HL1008]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): All UK airports must be capable of handling hijacked aircraft, but a particular advantage of Stansted is that it can continue to operate during an incident without a great deal of disruption after the initial phase. Policy on handling of hijacks is reviewed as a matter of course after an incident.

South Yorkshire Objective 1 Programme

Lord Mason of Barnsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any specific projects are earmarked for recognition by the Objective 1 status monies allocated to South Yorkshire; and what is the reason for the delay in payments.[HL994]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The South Yorkshire Objective 1 Single Programme Document was received by the European Commission on 17 November 1999. Under the Regulations, the Commission has five months to approve the programme. It is expected that the South Yorkshire programme will be approved in principle at the end of March. Until it is approved, no projects can be submitted. However, South Yorkshire partners are making preparations to ensure that projects can come forward as soon as the programme is fully operational.

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London Mayor and Assembly Members: Election Expenditure Limits

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to respond to the consultation on the expense limits for the election of the London mayor and assembly.[HL894]

Lord Whitty: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State announced the Government's proposed limits for candidates' and third parties' election expenditure on 3 February 2000 (Official Report, col. 650).

London Roadworks

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of traffic-impeding roadworks in London, during the most recent three-year period for which statistics are available, were attributable to:

    (a) highways maintenance and improvements;

    (b) works on behalf of essential utilities (electricity, gas and water) or telephone systems; and

    (c) works on behalf of non-essential services (for example, cable television).[HL920]

Lord Whitty: This information is not held centrally in the form requested. The highway authorities and the utilities co-operate with each other within the framework of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991. In London, the Highway Authorities and Utilities Committee (HAUC) co-ordinates and monitors the activities of the utilities' street works. I will write to you to say what information is available in respect of the utilities' works.

M.4 Bus and Taxi Lane

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the trial results for the M.4 bus and taxi lane.[HL944]

Lord Whitty: The M.4 bus lane pilot scheme is being independently monitored by the Transport Research Laboratory. Details of the performance of the scheme during the first three months' operation of the bus lane were published last November by the Highways Agency and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House. The results show that all vehicles benefited by reduced average journey times. Subsequent monitoring is showing that these benefits are continuing.

The detailed monitoring by TRL is continuing. Further results will be released from time to time.

It is too early to provide details of the effect of the scheme on accidents, but the police who patrol the motorway consider it is now safer.

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