I believe that full internalisation of multiplication tables up to 12, through a process of rote learning and simple multiplication problems, should be considered as fundamental a skill as learning to write the alphabet, a skill that nobody questions despite the fact that some people may be unable to perform this task due to developmental issues and some people may not have learned this skill due to social issues. Having instant response to these multiplication facts allows far easier development of real numeracy through more complicated mental arithmetic and written arithmetic problems. How hard would it be to learn to read if you constantly had to check on a machine what a particular letter was?

from someone calling themselves 'Golem' here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/aug/13/michael-gove-maths-reforms-flawed-charity?commentpage=last#end-of-comments