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1996 - PMQT Written Answers 8th February 1996

Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister's Question Time from 8th February 1996.


PRIME MINISTER:

Pay Review Bodies

Sir Michael Shersby: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the reports and recommendations of the pay review bodies.

The Prime Minister: The 1996 reports of the five pay review bodies have been published today. Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House. The Government are grateful to the chairmen and members of the review bodies for the time and care that they have put into the preparation of the reports.

The Government are concerned that pay settlements for these groups should be consistent with the approach to public sector pay. Under this approach, increases should be offset by efficiencies and other economies to help to deliver improved efficiency across the public sector. Specifically, the cost of pay settlements should be accommodated within the resources allocated to programmes. The Government have had to consider the recommendations of the pay review bodies against that background to determine the appropriate response.

The main pay recommendations are as follows.

The Armed Forces Pay Review Body has recommended a range of increases in daily rates of 3.2 to 3.8 per cent., plus an increase of 0.5 per cent. in the X factor reflecting the special demands of service life. This gives an average increase of 3.8 per cent. with effect from 1 April. Separately, following a quinquennial review of the value of armed forces pensions, it has recommended a 1 per cent. increase in pay to reflect reduced pension differentials with the private sector, with a further 1 per cent. increase next year.

The Doctors and Dentists Review Body has recommended general increases of 3.8 per cent. for doctors and 4.3 per cent. for dentists. It has specifically recommended higher increases for junior hospital doctors of 5.3 per cent. for registrars and 6.8 per cent. for house officers, although the latter figure would be partly offset by a reduction in the rate for additional duty hours.

The review body for nursing staff, midwives, health visitors and professions allied to medicine has recommended that pay for these groups should once again be determined locally. The review body also recommended a 2 per cent. increase in the national scales which underpin local negotiations.

The School Teachers Review Body has recommended a 3.75 per cent. increase in teachers' pay, and other changes in pay structures.

The Senior Salaries Review Body has recommended:

a. values for the pay ranges for the senior civil service in the pay structure set out in January 1995 in the White Paper, "Taking Forward Continuity and Change". Under these arrangements, Departments will determine individual salaries within the ranges and will be able to reward the best performers, with a framework in which the overall pay bill is expected to fall by some 7 per cent. next year as staff numbers are reduced;

b. increases for senior military officers in the range 3.9 to 5.6 per cent. averaging 4.6 per cent. consistent with the AFPRB recommendations;

c. increases of 3.9 per cent. for the judiciary.

This is a complex set of recommendations covering a number of different issues that have been addressed in detail by the review bodies in preparing their reports. The Government have said that they will normally accept review body recommendations, and do not intend to reject them on this occasion. Nevertheless, if this year's recommendations were implemented as they stand, from the due date, they would represent a marked step up in the level of pay settlements in the public sector, compared with settlements over the past year, and a significant charge on public expenditure programmes.

Accordingly, the Government intend to stage their introduction and propose that in most cases the settlements to be paid with effect from 1 April should be 1 percentage point less than the review body recommendations, the balance to be paid later this year on 1 December. This meets the requirements on affordability and the approach to public sector pay, while retaining the pattern of increases recommended by the review bodies.

Staging arrangements will also extend to the awards that Departments will determine for the senior civil service within the framework set by the SSRB recommendations.

The Government have, however, decided that it would not be appropriate to apply this general arrangement to the recommendations for nurses and other staff covered by the NPRB.

The following table summarises the main pay recommendations of the review bodies.

       Main pay recommendations        Pay bill costs        

       percentage        £ million        percentage

AFPRB--Armed forces        3.7-4.3(4)        211        3.8

DDRB--Doctors and dentists        3.8-6.8        245        4.4

NPRB--Nursing staff, midwives, health visitors and professions Allied to medicine        (5)        --        --

STRB--School teachers        3.75        421        3.8

SSRB Senior salaries                        

Senior civil service        (6)        --        --

Senior military        3.9-5.6        1        4.6

Judiciary        3.9        6        3.9

(4) Includes ½ per cent. increase in the X factor which reflects the special demands of military compared with civilian life. AFPRB has also recommended an additional 1 per cent. on pay as part of a staged pensions-related adjustment.

(5) To be determined in local pay negotiations but with a guaranteed 2 per cent. increase in national pay rates.

(6) Recommendations for the senior civil service affect the pay framework within which Departments will set individual pay rates.


Crime Statistics

Mr. Hain: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 1 February, Official Report, column 1120-21, if he will list the years since 1966 when crime fell.

The Prime Minister: Between June 1993 and June 1995 there were 572,000 fewer crimes recorded than in the preceding two years--the largest fall since records began last century.

Complete year figures are available up to the end of 1994. Since 1966 recorded crime in England and Wales has fallen in the following years:

      1973, 1978, 1979, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1994.


Nuclear Test Veterans

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Prime Minister what action he has taken to pay compensation to (a) British and (b) Australian nuclear test veterans from the 1950s.

The Prime Minister: In studies carried out by the National Radiological Protection Board of over 20,000 British nuclear test veterans, the incidence of death and cancer has been less than among the general public in the same age groups, and no higher than among a matched control group These facts do not sustain a case for compensation. The handling of claims in Australia is a matter for the Government of Australia.


Professor al-Masari

Mr. Madden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library the information (a) made available to the courts about the case of Professor al-Masari and (b) passed to the Government of Dominica about Professor al-Masari; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister: No. It is not my normal practice to do so.