» Monday, September 6, 2004


Asked if there was a 'spare Cabinet pay packet' available in the light of reports over the weekend and today, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) welcomed journalists back to a new school term but said that his position on responding to reshuffle questions had not changed over the summer recess. Asked if the Prime Minister was planning to make any changes to his Government today, the PMOS reiterated that he had absolutely no intention of responding to reshuffle questions, no matter how well (or badly) they were disguised.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Fox Hunting

Asked if the Prime Minister was prepared to risk losing key Bills in Parliament in order to see a Bill on fox hunting on the statute books by the end of this Parliamentary session, the PMOS said that it wasn't his policy to answer hypothetical questions, as journalists were well aware. Asked why he was being so reticent this morning, the PMOS said that he wasn't being deliberately obstructive. These were simply questions which journalists were well aware he was unable to answer since discussions about this matter were ongoing with Alun Michael. Once they had been concluded we would be able to talk about the issue in detail. Asked to outline the necessary sequence of events which would allow a ban on fox hunting onto the statue books before the end of the current session, the PMOS said that he appreciated the spirit in which the question had been asked. However, he was not going to give a running commentary on the process in advance of its conclusions. Asked if an announcement might be made tomorrow, the PMOS said that he had no intention of engaging in a speculative discussion about this matter. Suffice to say that the Prime Minister would be holding his monthly press conference tomorrow during which a wide range of subjects would no doubt be covered. Asked to remind journalists of the Prime Minister's personal view on fox hunting, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had set it out on several occasions in the past. It would be very easy for people to go and look it up.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (10)

Beslan School Siege

Asked if the Prime Minister would be speaking to President Putin in the light of the horrific outcome of the school siege in Beslan, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had sent a note to the President on Friday in which he had said, "I have been closely watching the terrible developments in North Ossetia. It is hard to express my revulsion at the inhumanity of terrorists prepared to put children and their parents through such suffering. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, the families and friends of those killed, those injured and all of the Russian people at this time". Obviously the Prime Minister would want to speak personally to President Putin at some point. However, since Russia was taking part in two days of mourning, we recognised that now was not the appropriate time.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

President Clinton

Asked if the Prime Minister had been in touch with President Clinton following his heart problems which had been reported last week, the PMOS said that everyone was aware of the close friendship between the Prime Minister and President Clinton. However, this particular issue was a personal matter and he had no intention of briefing on any correspondence or contact between the two that might have taken place.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Northern Ireland

Asked if the prospects for an agreement on Northern Ireland had improved in recent days, the PMOS said that preliminary discussions had taken place at Stormont last week on which the parties would no doubt spend this week reflecting. The British and Irish Governments were in close contact both with the key players and with each other. In the meantime, preparations for the talks at Leeds Castle between 16 and 18 September were continuing. The Prime Minister remained of the view that a deal was there to be done which would address the key issues, namely an end to paramilitary activity, the decommissioning of weapons and a commitment to an inclusive Government in which all sides of the community would be involved. We believed it was possible for a deal to be done. However, it was obviously necessary to undertake all the hard work first before such a thing could happen. That was precisely what we were engaged in doing at this moment.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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