» Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Asked if other British troops would replace Black Watch at the end of their current tour of duty, the PMOS said that as the Prime Minister had pointed out, it would depend on the circumstances at the time. It would also depend on the progress that was made in terms of normalising the situation on the ground in places like Fallujah. It was important for people to recognise that an agreement had been reached as to how Black Watch would be used, where they were used and the timespan in which they were used. As the Prime Minister had made clear, we wanted to see stability in Iraq so that elections could be held next year. As part of that process, voter registration was due to begin next week. Asked if the Prime Minister’s pledge to ensure that Black Watch would return home by Christmas was also an assurance that there would be no British troops in the Hillah region at that time, the PMOS said that he really did not want to have another debate with the Lobby about the meaning of Christmas (or even the Meaning of Christmas). It was entirely reasonable for Black Watch troops and their families to know when they could expect to return home. That was precisely what the Prime Minister’s pledge had been designed to do. No other decisions had been taken about any other commitment after that.

Asked if the Prime Minister would accept that he had misled the House of Commons last week in saying that the size of the British army would not be cut, the PMOS said that as he understood it, the Leader of the Opposition had written to the Prime Minister today about this matter. The Prime Minister would reply to the letter within the next few days, which was why it would not be helpful to pre-empt his response today. That said, as we had made clear at the time of the Spending Review, this was all about increasing the flexibility of the army and the number of deployable, usable infantry battalions – in other words, investing in, and using, new technology in order to increase the productivity and capability of our armed forces, whether frontline personnel or support staff. That was more important than troop numbers. Spending on defence had been rising over the past seven years – the largest increase over such a period, hence the comments made in the summer by the Chief-of-the-Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, that the last two Spending Reviews had resulted in increases in spending on the armed forces the likes of which he had never seen during his army career.

Asked to clarify the Prime Minister’s reply to a question during PMQs regarding medical treatment in Iraq, particularly for patients with burns, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had been expressing his support for the MP in question who had been asking that other countries, as well as the UK, should help where possible. While we were helping to rebuild Iraq’s general infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, it was important to recognise that the problems we were encountering predated the war by quite some time. Nevertheless, we remained committed to doing what we could to help, including assisting in individual cases where necessary.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. Looks like theres going to be more of our troops there then…….
    and whats with "normalising the situation on the ground " ? Whats ‘normal’ about your country being bombed on a massive scale, having little in the way of basic facilities, a foreign force occuping, killing and torturing your people, and hearing that forces leaders saying how much better off you are now.
    As for investing in new technology for defence, the only reason that "Spending on defence had been rising over the past seven years – the largest increase over such a period" is because of the extremely poor way that contracts have been awarded and monitored and the fact that most are hugely over budget (eurofighter, chinooks, and new ships for the navy), hardly something to boast about

    Comment by tony — 1 Nov 2004 on 7:16 pm | Link

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


October 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Sep   Nov »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh