19 May 2003 : Column 29WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 19 May 2003


Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Alan Milburn): I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the 32nd report of the review body on doctors' and dentists' remuneration (DDRB) which is published today. Copies of the report are available in the Library. The report covers career grade hospital doctors and dentists (including doctors in public health and the community health service), doctors and dentists in training (excluding general practice registrars) and ophthalmic medical practitioners. The DDRB will report later on general dental practitioners and those in the salaried primary dental care services and are awaiting further developments on the proposed new contract for general medical practitioners. I am grateful to the chairman and members of the review body for their hard work and for the action they have taken to deal with each of their remit groups with the least possible delay.

The review body has recommended general increases in remuneration of 3.225 per cent. for career grade hospital doctors and dentists and doctors and dentists in training with effect from April 2003. In addition, the DDRB has recommended adjustments to the pay scales, for associate specialists and staff grade practitioners.

The review body's pay recommendations are being accepted in full by the Government and without staging.


Guantanamo Bay

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mike O'Brien): British officials paid a fifth visit to Guantanamo Bay between 21–28 April 2003. The officials were from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Security Service.

The purpose of the visit was to ask questions relevant to national security, to establish the identity and nationality of a detainee believed to be British and to check on the welfare of all UK detainees. The identity and British nationality of the detainee concerned was confirmed. There are therefore nine UK detainees in Guantanamo Bay. All were seen by the visiting officials.

19 May 2003 : Column 30WS

The FCO official saw all the UK detainees individually. US officials observed all the meetings. The FCO official passed family messages and mail to the detainees and brought replies back to the UK which have now been passed to the detainees' families. Detainees are able to send and receive mail through the Camp authorities and ICRCA. Delivery can be slow.

The FCO official asked all the UK detainees about their health, medical and non-medical treatment, diet, accommodation, exercise and other Camp facilities with them.

The UK detainees appeared to be in sound physical health. The medical issues raised by them are being addressed by the Camp's medical services. The medical facilities available to the detainees are the same as those for US military personnel at Guantanamo Bay and are of a high standard.

Overall, the UK detainees thought the diet provided satisfactory though repetitive. The detainees continue to be housed in accommodation with individual sleeping, washing and toilet facilities. They continue to have access to exercise, to practice their religion and to an expanded collection of reading material, which continues to include the Koran and Bible.

The FCO official did not see or hear of mistreatment of UK detainees by the Camp authorities.

The visiting officials found the Camp authorities open and co-operative within limits dictated by security considerations.

National Arms Embargo

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mike O'Brien): The Government have recently issued a licence for the export of night vision goggles which are of military specification. These goods are for use on the Iran/Afghanistan border against heroin smugglers, and the export is funded by the UN Drugs Control Programme (UNDCP). The UN offices in Vienna have confirmed that this application is legitimate. HMG is therefore satisfied that these goods would only be used for the end-use stated, and there is no risk of these goods being diverted for use by the Iranian military.


Rivers Agency (Performance Targets)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Ian Pearson): Rivers Agency is an exclusive agency of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland. It acts on behalf of the Department as the statutory drainage and flood defence authority for Northern Ireland.

I have set the following key targets for the agency for the 2003–04 business year:

19 May 2003 : Column 31WS

19 May 2003 : Column 32WS