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16 Dec 2004 : Column 1229W—continued

Trafalgar Day Celebration

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish guidance issued by his Department to admirals speaking at dinners to celebrate Trafalgar Day this year. [202793]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 6 December 2004]: The Royal Navy attaches considerable importance to commemorating the Battle of Trafalgar, and Trafalgar Night dinners are an ideal opportunity for articulating to a wider audience the vision for today's Royal Navy. This year, while wishing to avoid being prescriptive about speech content, the Naval Staff circulated guidance to personnel at all levels which they may have found useful as aides memoire for speakers to highlight as key points. These were:

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Video Conferencing

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many video conferencing units are installed in (a) the Department and (b) each agency of the Department; what percentage of offices have these facilities in each case; and what plans there are to increase the number. [200578]

Mr. Caplin: As of February 2004, the information requested is set out in the following table:
MOD London buildings20
Royal Navy31
Royal Air Force10
Defence Logistics Organisation47
Defence Communication Services Agency10
Defence Procurement Agency5
Pay Personnel Agency2
Warship Support Agency2

There are a small number of video teleconferencing (VTC) units purchased under local agreements for which information is not available The percentage of offices that have these facilities could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The use of VTC is actively encouraged and the Defence Communication Services Agency is currently revising its catalogue to offer VTC services more widely across the whole of the Department.
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Developing Countries (Poverty)

15. Mr. Miller : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on how an international finance facility would contribute to tackling poverty in developing countries. [205225]

Mr. Timms: Building on the commitments made by the donor community at Monterrey in 2002, the International Finance Facility (IFF) would generate the estimated extra $50 billion in development assistance required annually to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

The IFF would provide a critical mass of stable, predicable long-term funds frontloaded to tackle the causes of poverty, disease and illiteracy, meeting the needs of the world's poor right now.


16. Mr. Lazarowicz : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the economic objectives of the UK's presidency of the G8. [205226]

Mr. Timms: As set out in Box 2.4 of the 2004 Pre-Budget Report, the Government sees its leadership of the G7 and G8 in 2005 as an opportunity to tackle the key challenges that come from the radical changes currently under way in the global economy. These include: international poverty reduction to ensure that the world's poorest can share in rising prosperity; structural economic reform in the developed world to increase flexibility; openness to free and fair trade; and supporting the drive to tackle climate change as a priority for all industrialised nations.

Commission for Africa

17. Mr. MacDougall : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the work of the Commission for Africa. [205227]

Mr. Timms: 2005 will be a critical year for assessing progress towards the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals. We know already that Africa is not on track to meet any of these goals by the target date of 2015. The Commission for Africa was established to examine the evidence and identify the action required to accelerate progress. The Commission has consulted widely on its draft conclusions. The final Commission meeting will be held in February 2005, and the report published in March.

The Chancellor meets regularly with this fellow Commissioners engaged in the economic section of the Commission for Africa's work, most recently in Ottawa in October and Berlin last month. In addition, the Chancellor hosted high-level breakfasts in No11 in July with senior business leaders and NGOs operating in Africa in order to draw upon some of their experience and views.
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The Chancellor is planning to visit Africa early next year to hold discussions on the economy section with fellow Commissioner and African Finance Ministers.


18. Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress towards securing greater economic flexibility within the Eurozone. [205228]

Mr. Timms: Economic flexibility is important not just for the Eurozone, but for all EU member states. That is why the Government remains a strong advocate of economic reform at home and in Europe. Though much progress has been made towards the Lisbon targets for 2010, there is still a need for member states to do more, in particular, to tackle the structural rigidities that hamper economic growth and performance.

Gaming (Taxation)

19. Mr. Gill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport regarding the level of taxation on gaming. [205229]

John Healey: Treasury Ministers regularly discuss a wide range of business with colleagues at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. However, as I set out in a written answer on 27 October 2004, Official Report, column 1293W no such discussions have been held on gambling tax rates. Tax policy is a matter for the Chancellor and is considered as part of the Budget process.

Employment Incentives

20. Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on his measures in the pre-Budget report to help people into work. [205230]

Mr. Timms: The Government receives a variety of representations on our measures to help people into work. The success of our welfare to work policies is evident in Wednesday's employment figures, which showed that employment is at near record levels, at 74.7 per cent. The new deal—the most successful employment programme in our history—has now helped over 1,169,000 individuals into work.

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