» Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Northern Ireland

Asked what the Prime Minister had said to Ian Paisley, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that as with yesterday the reason for the meetings this week was to find out where we were following last week's events. It was also to emphasize that we still wanted to push things forward, because we were in a situation where, whether we liked it or not, the two parties wouldn't talk to each other. The Government was in the position of intermediary. Asked if the Prime Minister would suggest a meeting with Gerry Adams to Ian Paisley, the PMOS said it was a matter for Ian Paisley. We could not force people to meet. Other parties did meet with Sinn Fein. We meet with Sinn Fein. It was up to Ian Paisley to decide. In the mean time we would have to act as intermediary. Frustrating as that was.

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

Living Wills

Asked for the Prime Minister's view on the issues of living wills and Euthanasia, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister supported the Government's position. That position was that this legislation was not about Euthanasia, this was about clarifying the situation so that the current practice was codified. We did not believe that this extended the law but it did formalise what already happened. The Government's position was supported by many of the 35 leading charities in this field. The Government had responded seriously, and recognised that there were disagreements about the decision. That was why we had moved to clarify the position, but it was a position the Government believed was right. Asked what the Prime Minister's response was to the shambles in the Commons and the lamentable performance of the minister concerned, the PMOS said that the PM have been involved in other meetings, but it was not unusual for points of clarification to be introduced on to the floor of the House.

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

David Blunkett

Put to him that David Blunkett had blamed departmental inertia for preventing him from passing legislation on gang-masters, which might have prevented the deaths of 21 cockle pickers at Morecambe Bay, the PMOS said that part of the normal process of government on issues that cut across departments, was that when one department put forward a proposal, it got scrutinized by other departments to make sure it worked That was how you reached a consensus on the best way forward. In this case the consensus settled on supporting the private member's bill, the Sheridan Bill, which the Government had supported. It was a process which was part of government since government began. It was perfectly natural that different departments would on occasion have different views, because they looked at things from their own angle. Questioned further, the PMOS said that the ins and outs of this issue had been gone over at the time after the tragic deaths in Morecambe Bay, it was important to recognise that David Blunkett had not accused anyone of contributing to the 21 deaths. It was right that departments aired difficulties they had with proposed legislation.

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

Sports Fund

Asked if the £500 million allocated for extending sport was new money, or was it out of existing pot, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said the journalist should ask the DCMS for further details regarding funding. What was important, however, was what it would achieve was a major extension of sport in schools.

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

Captain Warwick Strong

Asked if Captain Warwick Strong's passport issues that had been highlighted in the media had been resolved, the PMOS said the department was aware of the situation, and he was sure there would be a common sense solution, but he could not comment on an individual case.

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

High Court/Baha Mousa case

Asked about the ruling by the High Court for the Government to hold an inquiry into the death of Iraqi Baha Mousa, the PMOS pointed out that the Government had won 5 out of the 6 cases. He also said that a separate criminal case was being considered by the Army Prosecution Authority, and therefore could not comment further for obvious legal reasons.

Asked if the Government took the same "scathing" view as the judges that Iraq was not yet ready to have the European Convention on Human Rights applied, the PMOS asked the journalist if he really expected him to comment on a current court case that may go to appeal.

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


Asked if there was any further news on when the Army restructuring announcement might be made, the PMOS replied that it would probably be towards the end of the week.

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

Budd Report

Asked if there was new information on the Budd Inquiry, the PMOS said it was a matter for Sir Alan Budd, but his hunch was that nothing would happen this week.

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

EU Talks

Asked if the Prime Minister would be pressing his "three Turkish Delights" on Chancellor Schroeder later, the PMOS in turn asked if the journalist was referring to a newspaper article in "The Guardian", and if so, then the line on the article was "it was nonsense". The PMOS said it was very clear what the government's position on Turkey was. We were in favour of negotiations beginning in 2005, and the Commission Report of 6th October had said that Turkey fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria, and therefore we believed it should be followed through.

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

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