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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Her Majesty's Government continue to press Iraq to account for the whereabouts of the 605 Kuwaitis and other nationals missing since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in line with its obligations under Security Council resolutions. The UK plays an active role in the Tripartite Commission process, chaired by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which seeks to resolve these cases. That process has, however, been hampered by persistent Iraqi obstruction, demonstrated most recently by Iraq's refusal to attend commission meetings. In addition, Her Majesty's Government support the work of Mr Yuli Vorontsov, the UN Secretary General's High Level Co-ordinator for Kuwaiti missing and property issues.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My honourable friend John Battle, Minister of State, attended the EU-ASEAN Ministerial meeting in Vientiane on 11-12 December. They had a frank discussion on Burma. EU and ASEAN Ministers expressed their full support for the efforts of Mr Razali, the UN Secretary General's Special envoy, and called for an early dialogue between the Burmese Government, the NLD, and other relevant parties. The Burmese Foreign Minister gave assurances that the EU Troika mission in January would have full access to the NLD, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and other opposition groups. This is a welcome development.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 25 October (WA 42) on this issue. In raising our concerns about Burma with Security Council partners, we have directed our efforts towards building consensus. It nevertheless remains the case that there is no consensus for engagement on Burma issues for now. This extends also to the question of an International Criminal Tribunal on Burma.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories, and would expect the European Union to raise human rights issues with the Israelis in the context of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have introduced and published the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill. The Department of Health has also issued a press release announcing consultation on the proposal to allow all nicotine replacement products to be prescribed on the National Health Service by general practitioners. Copies of the consultation letter have been placed in the Library.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. The National Blood Service has a United Kingdom Standing Advisory Committee on the Care and Selection of Donors. This committee reviews the criteria for selection of blood donors on a regular basis and consults with individual medical experts as the need arises.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Possible topics for appraisal by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence are identified by the Horizon Scanning Centre at the University of Birmingham, by policy advisers in the Department of Health, by professional or patient organisations, or by other interested parties such as pharmaceutical companies. Topics are assessed against published criteria. Ministers take the final decision on which topics are referred to the Institute.
Application of the criteria has so far led to the majority of appraisals being concerned with pharmaceuticals. However, the work programme has also included other technologies such as surgical interventions, hearing aids and a screening technique.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Health authorities should develop local policies for the delivery of National Health Service services within available resources, taking into account guidance from the Department of Health and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. In formulating local policies there is no statutory duty to consult users, but as a matter of good practice it is recommended that the public's interests should be represented by the inclusion of lay representation on the local forum established to advise the authority.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Government support for research into Multiple Sclerosis, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSEs) and AIDS is provided through a number of government departments and research councils.
A similar approach has not been taken with Multiple Sclerosis but, nevertheless, the scope for increasing the MRC's support in the field has been evaluated by the MRC Neurosciences and Mental Health Board and at a recent workshop, and is now being considered.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Fieldwork for the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of adults aged 19-64 years began in July 2000, and will continue for a year until June 2001. A report of the findings is expected in early 2003. 2,000 people are expected to participate in the survey, a proportion of whom will provide a 24-hour urine collection which will enable an analysis of urinary fluoride to be made.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are responding on behalf of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to the reports of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB) and the Review Body on Nursing staff, Midwives, Health Visitors and Professions Allied to Medicine (NPRB), which are published today. We understand that a similar announcement is being made by the First Minister and the Minister for Health and Community Care in Scotland. Copies of the reports are available in the Vote Office and the Library. We are grateful to the chairmen and members of both review bodies for their hard work.
Nurses, midwives and health visitors are to get an across the board increase of 3.7 per cent. For the third time in three years the award is being paid nationally in full without staging. In addition one discretionary point is being consolidated into pay ranges of grades F, G, H and I and the flat rate elements of London Allowance, on call and standby payments are also increased by 3.7 per cent. and the flat rate elements of London Weighting are being harmonised in line with rates paid to staff above grade B.
On top of these increases we are also introducing Cost of Living Supplements from 1 April 2001. These will be worth between £600 and £1,000 for qualified NPRB staff in London, and between £400 and £600 for equivalent staff in high cost areas in the South of England.
The minimum starting pay of a newly qualified nurse will rise to £15,445, an increase of 30 per cent. in cash terms over the salary paid at 31 March 1997. In Inner London, starting pay for a new nurse will be £19,178, including London Weighting and the new cost of living supplement--an increase of 7 per cent. on the April 2000 figure.
The pay of an experienced ward sister or charge nurse on the maximum of grade G will rise by 5.5 per cent. to £25,420. This reflects the 3.7 per cent. award and the consolidation of one discretionary point. An equivalent nurse in inner London will earn £29,535, including also the new cost of living supplement--a 9 per cent. increase over the April 2000 figure.
On the issue of midwives' grading, the NPRB has endorsed the agreement reached between the parties and recommended that it be implemented from 1 April 2001. This means that all midwives will be able to move through to the maximum of grade F without needing to be promoted.
This year the largest increases go to the most experienced nurses, midwives and health visitors who are in the vanguard of delivering the modern NHS--providing leadership, assuring clinical and environmental standards and getting all aspects of basic nursing care right for the patients.
The NPRB has also recommended an across the board increase of 3.7 per cent. for physiotherapists, radiographers and other professions allied to medicine (PAMs). Starting pay for basic grade PAMs with a degree after four years' training will increase on 1 April
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.
For consultants, this 3.9 per cent. increase comes on top of the £50 million package to recognise increased workload, contribution to NHS and intensity of work. Within this, over £40 million will be paid out in intensity supplements to consultants this year, paid in January 2001 backdated to April 2000.
The DDRB pay rise takes the starting consultant salary to £50,810 and a consultant on the maximum of the scale with maximum distinction award to £128,935. The number of distinction awards has also been increased by 176, which will support the Government's proposals to reform the existing schemes to give more opportunity to reward consultants for their commitment and contribution to the NHS.
Doctors in training will benefit from this increase as well as from the new pay and banding system introduced in December 2000. This deal replaced the old, unfair system of half pay for extra hours with a banding system to reflect total hours worked. As well as giving doctors in training significant increases, the pay deal acts as an incentive for employers to reduce excessive hours. With the addition of this pay increase, a Pre-Registration House Officer (PRHO) on minimum of scale working more than 48 hours at most unsocial times (band 2A) will receive £26,903 and a Senior House Officer (SHO) on the maximum of the scale, again in band 2A, will receive £44,820.
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