Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Archer of Sandwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Our Ambassador in Khartoum has been active in support of the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC) and has urged all concerned, including the Government of Sudan, to greater efforts. In support of this action in Khartoum, we recently co-sponsored a United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Sudan with our EU partners. The resolution called upon the Government of Sudan to reinforce action undertaken to prevent and stop abductions of women and children, and to bring to trial any person suspected of supporting or participating in such activities.

Zimbabwe: Freedom of Expression

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We are currently holding discussions with EU partners about the forthcoming session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR). There are no plans at present to table an EU resolution on Zimbabwe. However, the EU issued a statement on 31 January condemning the bombing of the Daily News printing presses. We will continue to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe closely.

Army: Operational Tours

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Burlison: We do not hold the information requested centrally.

We concluded during the Strategic Defence Review that, for the Army, six-month operational tours and an average interval between tours of 24 months are optimum for operational effectiveness and retention. The current average unit tour interval in the Army is around 28 months.

In addition, some 21 per cent of the trained Army is currently committed to operations. This figure

13 Feb 2001 : Column WA30

includes units preparing for, deployed on and recovering from operations. Within this, 15 per cent of the trained Army is currently deployed on operations.

Defence Diversification Agency

Lord Brett asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the period of formal consultation with stakeholders will begin for the Defence Diversification Agency.[HL659]

Lord Burlison: A consultative document outlining the options considered for the future of the Defence Diversification Agency and the proposed way forward is now available. Copies have been placed in the Library of both Houses and are being sent to key stakeholders. Additional copies are available on request from:

    Deputy Director Equipment Secretariat

    Room 2332

    MoD Main Building

    London SW1A 2HB

An electronic version of the consultative document will also be made available through the MoD website. The period of consultation will end on 23 March 2001.

Armed Forces Pay Review Body Recommendations

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recommendations have been made in the 2001 report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body.[HL686]

Lord Burlison: The 2001 Report of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body was published on Friday 9 February. Copies of the report are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. We wish to thank the chairman and members of the review body for their hard work in producing this report.

The AFPRB has recommended an increase in basic military salary of 3.7 per cent for all ranks. The AFPRB has also recommended increases in the rates of Additional Pay (eg Flying Pay, Submarine Pay and Diving Pay), the Reserves' Bounties, and in charges.

These recommendations 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 £222 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 2001.

In addition, alongside the copies of the review body's report, we have placed in the Library a copy of a supplementary letter from the chairman of the AFPRB recommending the introduction of two financial retention incentives for certain categories of

13 Feb 2001 : Column WA31

aircrew. The additional cost of these measures will be £16.8 million in 2001-02, which will also be met within existing departmental expenditure limits.

Doctors' and Dentists' Pay: Review Body's Supplementary Recommendation

Baroness Rendell of Babergh asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the supplementary report of the Doctors' and Dentists' Pay Review Body.[HL712]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I am responding on behalf of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to the supplementary report of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB). I understand that a similar announcement has been made by the First Minister and the Minister for Health and Community Care in Scotland. Copies of the reports are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Library. We are grateful to the chairman and members of the DDRB for their hard work.

We announced on 18 December that the pay recommendations of the DDRB were being accepted in full and without staging. The DDRB recommended an overall pay increase of 3.9 per cent for salaried doctors and dentists and general medical and dental practitioners.

To encourage the retention of general medical practitioners, the DDRB has also recommended a 7 per cent increase in seniority allowances, worth in the region of £500 for a general medical practitioner with 25 years' service. This is in addition to the 3.9 per cent increase in intended average net remuneration.

The supplementary report from the DDRB covers areas of GPs income aimed at meeting the expense of running their practices and any balancing recovery from debts owed by the profession. In its considerations of what provision to make for indirectly reimbursed practice expenses and the operation of the balancing correction, the review body has recommended:

    provision for indirect expenses of £23,790 for each GP;

    a recovery of £248 per GP in accordance with normal rules; and

    a joint review by the BMA and Health Departments of the operation of the pay system.

    This should look at handling the cumulative overpayment that has occurred in the system (£2,684 per GP), the operation of the balancing mechanism and forecasting of expenses in time for next year's round.

The Government have accepted DDRB's recommendation on the level of practice expenses.

The Government share DDRB's concerns about the operation of the balancing mechanism, the setting of

13 Feb 2001 : Column WA32

practice expenses and the management of the cumulative debt. We have decided that the BMA and the Health Departments should put work in hand immediately to develop a review of these issues. That being the case, the Government have decided to suspend the balancing mechanism pending the outcome of the review.

The average GP will benefit by a further £248 above what the DDRB have recommended. In addition, we will consider constructively how to manage the cumulative debt of the profession (around £80 million) for the benefit of patients and the development of practices.

DDRB also recommended that urgent agreement was needed on flu vaccination payments. Higher payments to GPs were introduced in last autumn's campaign to increase vaccination coverage of people aged 65 and over. We now propose that the whole cost of these payments, not just the proportion relating to the extra coverage achieved, should remain available for investment in general practice.

The gross income of GPs will therefore increase to £80,300 pa, as shown in the following table, with effect from 1 April 2001.

2000 (£)2001 (£)
1. IANI (includes 2001 seniority
increase) 54,22056,510
2. Expenses Provision24,51023,790
3. IANI plus Expenses (1 + 2)78,73080,300
4. Balancing recovery(261)(248)
5. IAGI (3 + 4)78,46980,300

Audit and Accountability: Sharman Review

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have now received Lord Sharman's review of audit and accountability in the 21st century.[HL713]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has today received Lord Sharman's review. Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Library of the House.

The Government are most grateful to Lord Sharman for reviewing this important and complex area, and for conducting his review so speedily.

The twin principles of accountability of the Executive to Parliament and independent scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor General are enormously important to good government. Present arrangements have evolved gradually over the past century and it is valuable to have the benefit of Lord Sharman's views on how these arrangements should now be developed to best fit the 21st century.

The Government will consider Lord Sharman's recommendations very carefully with a view to improving the present system of accountability, and will issue a formal response in due course.

13 Feb 2001 : Column WA33

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page