» Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Wanless Report

Asked if the Prime Minister would accept the criticism, in the light of recent announcements, that the Government was not particularly joined up and that its policies were shaky and not very well thought through, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said no. The Wanless Report was a piece of work which had been commissioned some time ago and whose remit had been to look into the whole issue of public health. The Report talked about the importance of individuals taking responsibility for their own health, in addition to the importance of the full engagement of the wider community. The issue of obesity, which had been the subject of a paper published last week, was only one aspect of that. As he understood it, a White Paper on obesity would be published later in the year. Put to him that recent proposals, such as the introduction of a ‘fat tax’, subsided gym membership and drug testing in schools, had collapsed almost as soon as they had been announced, the PMOS said that it was important for people to understand what the three proposals were about. As we had stated clearly last week, we had no intention of introducing a so-called ‘fat tax’. That said, it was clearly an important and valuable part of good Government to have a small cadre of people looking in the longer term at some of the challenges facing the community and the population as a whole. The suggestion for subsidised gym membership was part of the Big Conversation consultation exercise, the purpose of which was to debate ideas. We had been consulting for some time about the issue of drug testing in schools and were now publishing guidance on it. It would be discretionary. Headteachers would not be required to test children for drugs at the start of the school day when the register was taken. What we were doing was giving them the power to do so if they so wished. Put to him that the powers already existed, the PMOS said that we would be issuing guidance which would enable headteachers to take this issue forward. Put to him again that the powers already existed, the PMOS said it was true that we were not going to be legislating on this matter. However, until the guidance, which was being produced in consultation with the police, headteachers and other interested parties, went out to schools, the matter had not been taken forward. This was all about schools having the tools at their disposal to deal with the issue of drugs.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. "Asked if the Prime Minister would accept the criticism, … that the Government was not particularly joined up and that its policies were shaky and not very well thought through…."

    It’s a good question, but I’m not surprised it got a one-word answer.

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 26 Feb 2004 on 9:38 am | Link
  2. I dunno, I think that a line of questioning which begins "You’re all rubbish, are you not?" probably deserves to be dismissed in one world.

    Comment by Tom Loosemore — 27 Feb 2004 on 9:50 am | Link
  3. Probably. But if they actually are rubbish (I don’t know if they are or not) it would be nice to see a refreshingly honest "yes" to that question….

    Comment by Chris Lightfoot — 27 Feb 2004 on 10:38 am | Link

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