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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:
"The Royal Navy (RN) has a tradition of being a world-beating navy. We have this tradition for a reasongood people, good training and good equipmentand also because we have been prepared to embrace change in the face of changing strategic situations.
Our priority is to deliver the core maritime roles of the Versatile Maritime Force: Maritime Force Projection, Theatre Entry, Flexible Global Reach, UK Maritime Security and Networked Command Control Communications Computers Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR).
The work earlier this year to rebalance defence has resulted in adjustments to force levels for all three Services. For the Royal Navy this has resulted in reductions in the numbers of frigates, destroyers, submarines and mine counter measure vessels over the next two years.
Whilst reductions in hull numbers are never welcome, throughout the process we have been absolutely clear that delivering the future visiona capable, flexible Navy focused on the ability to deliver effect onshoreis the priority.
At the heart of the Versatile Maritime Force is the Future Carrier programme (CVF), which remains the RN's top equipment priority. The work earlier this year recognised the importance of CVF and the planned in-service dates have been maintained.
We need to remember that our "audience" among the British public, and further afield, is changing, with many not having the same innate understanding and acceptance of the whys and hows of our business as would have been the case in the past. We have an excellent story to telland maintaining our reputation with this audience is vital."
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. 
|MOD London buildings||20|
|Royal Air Force||10|
|Defence Logistics Organisation||47|
|Defence Communication Services Agency||10|
|Defence Procurement Agency||5|
|Pay Personnel Agency||2|
|Warship Support Agency||2|
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.
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1231W
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.
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.
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.
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1232W
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.
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.
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 dealthe most successful employment programme in our historyhas now helped over 1,169,000 individuals into work.
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