In Defence Questions, I asked what action our Armed Forces are taking to tackle the spead of Ebola in West Africa.
Charlie: What contribution armed forces are making to tackling the spread of Ebola; and if he will make a statement.
Mark Francois (Minister of State, Defence): The armed forces are making a significant contribution in tackling the grave threat posed by Ebola in Sierra Leone. RFA Argus, which left Falmouth on 17 October, is due to arrive off Freetown by the end of this month. Approximately 750 UK armed forces personnel will be in Sierra Leone by the end of October. Those personnel are supporting the Department for International Development-led effort and will initially run a 12-bed Ebola treatment centre in Kerry Town for international health care workers; deliver up to 700 additional treatment beds; and set up and run a training academy primarily to train health care workers for those additional beds.
Charlie: Britain has been at the forefront of handling the crisis. What steps have the Government been taking to encourage other countries to do as much as us? I am thinking particularly of France, where, in Calais, the authorities have lost control of the security situation, endangering themselves and putting us at risk.
Mark Francois (Minister of State, Defence): Leaving Calais out of it for a moment, there is a need for the international community to do much more to support the effort against Ebola. That includes a need for an increase in spending, and for more support for international personnel working in the region. We recently held a donors conference in London for our international partners. The Ministry of Defence has engaged widely, securing assistance from Norway, Canada and the United Arab Emirates, among others. We urgently need to upscale the international response. EU Foreign Ministers are meeting today in Brussels to discuss this very issue, and the forthcoming EU Council will be a vital forum for us, if we are to take this work forward with our partners.
I also asked about the decison to use, rather than sell, our 2nd aircraft carrier.
Charlie: What impact will the decision to use, rather than sell, the second aircraft carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales, have on the defence of the realm?
Michael Fallon (Secretary of State for Defence): I am delighted to confirm our decision to deploy the second carrier within the Royal Navy. It will ensure that we have one carrier available 100% of the time, either at sea or at very high readiness. The carriers will give us unprecedented flexibility over the next 50 years to deploy our power globally to assist in joint strike fighter operations, peacekeeping, conflict prevention missions and the provision of aid and assistance in times of humanitarian crisis.
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