» Monday, November 1, 2004

EU Constitution

Asked if today's publication of a European Union Constitution booklet was the high point of the Prime Minister's road show on Europe the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that it was an information booklet for the public intended to achieve a better understanding of the EU Constitution. In answer to the suggestion that this was hardly the big fanfare for the European Constitution the PMOS said that nobody had pretended that it ever was. The referendum was some way off and we would take it step by step but what the Prime Minister hoped was that gradually people's understanding would increase, first and foremost as Parliament debated the Bill. Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to make a speech on Europe the PMOS said that he was not aware of any at this stage. He reminded journalists that the Prime Minister had made the case for the Constitution at the time it was agreed, before the summer and that he would continue to make the case from time to time. It was important to remember that this was not a sprint. It was something that would take some time and the Prime Minister was prepared to make his views known over that time.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

US Election

Asked if the Prime Minister was planning to stay up and watch television coverage of the US elections the PMOS advised that he would be best placed to brief on Wednesday morning as to what the Prime Minister had done.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Children’s Bill

Asked what position the Government would take on smacking in tomorrow's vote on the Children's Bill and whether it would be a free vote the PMOS said that the Government's position all along had been that we believe that parents should be given the responsibility for looking after their children. The Government did not condone any abuse of children but equally we did believe that reasonable chastisement within limits was what parents should be allowed to do. The Prime Minister, as he said he would do after PMQS, was going to meet with a group of labour backbenchers this evening though this should not be taken as signalling a change in policy.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Compulsory Voting

Asked if the Prime Minister supported compulsory voting as voiced by Mr Kinnock yesterday the PMOS said that he was not aware of any change in our policy, but that Mr Kinnock was entitled to his views.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Climate Change

Asked about The Queen's interest in climate change and whether she had had any contact with No10 about it, the Prime Minister's official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that as in the past when asked about conversations between The Queen and the Prime Minister, our practice was not to comment in any way and that meant: "in any way."

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

US Election

Asked when the Prime Minister had last met John Kerry, the PMOS said that they had met at Ronald Reagan's funeral, and at some point before that at the Senate.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)


Asked why the Government had signalled changes to the gambling bill before it had been placed, the PMOS answered that we hoped that the debate in the Commons would allow people to consider the debate in full, and not focus on only one aspect of it. As had been said before, 90% of the bill was to safeguard people, but also to allow consenting adults to gamble. As the DCMS Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, had also said that any new casinos would have a triple lock placed on them, which consisted of local authorities with wide powers to block new casino applications and also to stop any casinos that abused their power. The local authorities were also in linked up with the Planning Authorities and the Gambling Commission to tighten regulations on all sides. The PMOS also said that the triple lock needed to be emphasised as the debate continued, but sensible ideas would have been brought in, as with any new legislation.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)


Asked to explain further the Government's previous concerns and doubts about the methodology applied in the "Lancet" article about the number of Iraqi deaths, the PMOS replied because it relied on the extrapolation technique assumed, that Iraq was uniform in terms of intensity of conflict. It wasn't. The article also assumed that bombing was general throughout Iraq, which was not the case. The Iraqi Department of Health had issued figures that showed over a 6 month period there were about 3000 deaths, which was a long way short of the figures quoted in the "Lancet". The Iraqi DOH measured those figures by the number of people who came into hospitals throughout Iraq, and it was very difficult to rely on any such figures quoted in the "Lancet" with any certainty.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Northern Ireland

Asked to confirm Bertie Ahern's deadline of 25th November 2004 for the post-Leeds Northern Ireland talks, the PMOS replied that time was fairly limited for obvious reasons, but what the Government was determined to do was move things forward in whatever format was appropriate. He said that in private talks with the parties, progress was being made, but they were getting near the point where decisions needed to be taken about how to move things forward.

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

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