Progressive Governance Summit
Asked why the Prime Minister was returning early from the Progressive Governance Summit in Budapest, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that he had arrived yesterday and since then had made a speech, attended a dinner and had several bilaterals this morning. Clearly, therefore, he had completed the work that he had set out to do. Asked if the Prime Minister's health was giving any cause for concern in the light of the fact that he had now returned early from two consecutive trips, the PMS said that the Prime Minister was absolutely fine.
Asked if the Prime Minister had definitely ruled out tax increases for pensions, the PMS said that as her colleague had told journalists on Tuesday morning, the Chancellor had set out his position on Government taxation. It had not changed. The position today remained exactly the same.
Asked if the UK had received a request from the US to deploy troops from the Blackwatch regiment to Fallujah, the PMS said she, personally, was not aware of such a request, but would suggest that journalists checked with the MoD. Asked if any British troops would take part in the ongoing military action in Fallujah, the PMS said that she wasn't aware of any plans. She reminded journalists that Fallujah fell under the jurisdiction of the US.
Asked for a reaction to reports that the Prime Minister was planning to convert to Catholicism, the PMS said that as the Prime Minister himself had indicated this morning in Budapest, he had no plans to do so.
Asked to comment on claims made by Clare Short in her diaries that the Prime Minister had offered a deal to the Chancellor whereby he would stand down as Prime Minister if the Chancellor would state that the five economic tests had been met, the PMS said that as her colleague had told journalists yesterday, we were not going to comment on Ms Short's book or get involved in any publicity drive on her behalf. Her publishers were perfectly able to do that for her. That said, we did not know where this morning's story had come from. Asked if she was implying that the claim was untrue, the PMS repeated that she had no intention of commenting on such stories.
Questioned as to whether it was the British Government's policy to use information obtained under torture, the PMS said that we abided by our commitments under international law. We never used torture to obtain information. Nor would we instigate others to commit torture for that purpose. Asked if there was a blanket ban on information that had been obtained under torture, the PMS said that we would probably look at such information were we to receive it. However, we abided by our commitments under international law. Put to her that we would, in effect, be giving others permission to do our dirty work for us, the PMS said that she would disagree. It was not something we would encourage and we would also appeal to other countries to ensure that they too abided by international law. Asked if the UK had encouraged Uzbekistan to abide by international law, the PMS said she had no doubt that we had. Asked for a reaction to Craig Murray's removal as British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, the PMS said that it was a personnel issue and should be dealt with in the appropriate way. Asked if she was implying that the Prime Minister had had no involvement in the issue, the PMS said that it was a personnel matter which was being dealt with by the Foreign Office.
Asked if the Prime Minister supported Patrick Diamond's view that people who refused to attend good parenting classes should have some of their benefits docked, the PMS said that as a Civil Servant, she was unable to comment on ideas put forward in a paper written by Mr Diamond who was a political adviser. That said, the Government remained committed to helping people get back to work. Asked about Mr Diamond's job description, the PMS said that he had been appointed Special Adviser to Alan Milburn having previously worked in Downing Street.
Original PMOS briefings are © Crown Copyright. Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland. Click-use licence number C02W0004089. Material is reproduced from the original 10 Downing Street source, but may not be the most up-to-date version of the briefings, which might be revised at the original source. Users should check with the original source in case of revisions. Comments are © Copyright contributors. Everything else is © Copyright Downing Street Says.
Contact Sam Smith.