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Ruth Kelly: No country can be insulated from fluctuations in the world economy and the fall in the FTSE 100 share index since its peak at the end of 1999 reflects declines in global equity prices. The best basis for long-term sustainable increases in wealth remains a strong economic policy framework, delivering a platform of low inflation and sound public finances.
(3) what plans he has to combat avoidance of (a) value added tax, (b) income tax, (c) capital gains tax, (d) national insurance contributions, (e) stamp duty and (f) excise duties; and if he will make a statement. 
John Healey: The Government are committed to tackling fraud and closing loopholes in the tax system which allow some people to avoid paying their fair share of tax, increasing the burden on other taxpayers and giving those who use avoidance schemes an unfair advantage. The Government have acted every year since
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1997 to close unfair loopholes. For example, the 2002 pre-Budget report included measures to counter the avoidance of tax and national insurance through the abuse of Employee Benefit Trusts, legislation to prevent businesses unfairly claiming accelerated capital allowances, changes to the controlled foreign companies rules to prevent avoidance of UK tax on profits from extended warranties, and action to prevent companies avoiding the payment of VAT on the sale of freehold buildings. In addition the pre-Budget report launched a strategy to tackle losses in the VAT system, which is designed to produce £2 billion a year in additional revenues by 200506.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what proportion of (a) GP surgeries, (b) hospitals, (c) primary care trusts, (d) health authorities and (e) the criminal justice system have broadband access; and what the target date is for full broadband access. 
These figures relate to connections only, not directly to the organisations themselves, as it is common for Health Authorities and Trusts to have multiple connections. These can be for connections between different sites or multiple connections to the same sites. Information broken down by specific Trust or Health Authority is not collected centrally.
(e) 100 per cent. of police forces and 100 per cent. of Crown Prosecution Service offices have broadband access through their connection to the Criminal Justice Extranet and Government Secure Intranet services; and 90 per cent. of the Prosecution Service has access to broadband via their connection to the Government Secure Extranet.
Under the existing framework contracts with the NHS net suppliers, connections to GP practices in England are being upgraded to 256 kbps where they do not already have it. Trust and Health Authority connections are being upgraded to 2 Mbps where they do not already have it, or better. The Target for completion of this exercise is March 2004.
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As part of the Government 21st Century IT strategy for the NHS, it is planned to replace the existing networking arrangements with a new national broadband infrastructure for the NHS England in 200607.
The target date for full broadband access for 100 per cent. of the core criminal justice agencies (the police, Crown Prosecution Service, Courts, Probation Service and Prison Service) is 2006. However, magistrates courts and the Probation Service plan to achieve this during 2003 and the Prison Service plan to achieve it by 2004.
Mr. Alexander: There are no current plans to create tables of ranking for Departments or Ministers. The performance of each Department is assessed against the stretching delivery targets agreed and published in their Public Service Agreements. These are specific to each Department. Progress against PSA targets is reported every spring in departmental reports, with an update in the Autumn Performance Reports. Links to these documents are available on the HM Treasury website. Many of the indicators are also subject to regular statistical release.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civil servants have been employed by (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies and non-departmental bodies in each year from 199495 to 200203; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much (a) his Department and (b) each agency and non-departmental public body spent on external consultancy in each year from 199596 to 200203 (planned); and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence expenditure on External Assistance (EA), of which external consultancy is a part, is available in the Libraries of the House for the years 199596 to 200001. This includes expenditure broken down by Departmental Top Level Budget Holders and Trading Funds. However,
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expenditure on external consultancy is not recorded as a specific category of EA and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much money has been lost by his Department and its agencies and non-departmental public bodies through (a) fraud and (b) theft for each year since 199697. 
No abatement is made for subsequent recoveries. The figures relate to a combination of suspected and proven non-procurement and procurement frauds and thefts with estimated values refined from time to time as investigations, sometimes lasting a year or more, reach a conclusion. A major element of estimated cost relates to 'at risk' estimates applied to suspected procurement fraud cases, incorporated here in reported totals from 19992000, and are often resolved as 'no crime' or have a proven value lower than original estimates.
Although units for possible operations in the Gulf have been identified not all personnel posted to those units will deploy and others may be attached to bring them to full establishment. It is not therefore possible to identify at this stage the total number of personnel on S-type engagements who could ultimately deploy to the region.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has had with NATO partners about the use of the Alliance in future operations in Iraq, following the formal US request for assistance on 15 January. 
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