Prime Minister’s glasses
Asked why the Prime Minister did not wear his glasses during his speech, when he clearly "could not see", the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that sometimes he did wear them and sometimes he did not!
24 Hour License Law
Asked if Frank Field was right to forecast a Government rethink on 24 hour drinking, the PMOS said: No. It was important to recognise what the premise was on the position that had been taken. The Government had received representation from the police and others about the problem that a single turning out time was having and it would be better to have flexible closing hours instead to solve this problem. The problem not only needed to be recognised, but also the ability to target problem premises. This was what the law would do. It was also important to note that the number of premises applying for a 24 hour license was very small (about 1-2%). It was to allow for more flexible hours that would make life easier.
Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with various MPs who thought Prince Harry should publicly apologise for his recent costume, and also did he also agree with those who thought he was no longer fit to serve as an Army officer, the PMOS repeated what he had said at lobby in the morning which was clearly there was an error. No one was trying to downplay the seriousness of the error, and Prince Harry had apologised for it. It was better that the Palace continued to deal with the implications of it, however.
Asked how the publicising of the eleven prosecuted cases was going to be handled, the PMOS replied that they would be done in such a way as to take into account sensitivities people may have surrounding them. What could be underlined, however, was that it was a law that was only applied in very rare cases, and the public had an exaggerated view about how often it was used due to high publicity surrounding some cases. It was right and proper that it was put in the correct perspective. The law did allow people to use reasonable force.
Asked if the UK ballot boxes were going to be sufficiently secure, given the problems in Iraqi surrounding the upcoming elections, the PMOS said necessary security would be provided, but he stressed he could not comment further on security issues.
"Making Poverty History" Event
Dawn French and representatives from the "Making Poverty History" coalition would visit No10 shortly for a short photo call and conversation with the Prime Minister. This arose from the "Vicar of Dibley" programme, and called for the Government to use its chair of the G8 to make poverty history. It also wanted to ensure that whilst we contributed fully to the tsunami, it did not distract attention away from the plight of Africa. The PMOS said the Prime Minister welcomed the campaign, and fully supported it. It also played into the Chancellor's visit to Africa, and the Government's commitment to doubling aid to Africa, which this year would amount to £1 billion.
24 Hour Licenses
Asked whether the government was overruling some police chiefs' views on 24 hour licensing, the PMOS said the police themselves had highlighted the problems they faced every week by a uniform "turfing out" time. Therefore, the argument was for flexible opening hours. What the law also allowed was for targeted action to be taken against the areas where there were problems, whilst at the same time, not penalising the majority of people who wanted social drinking at a time that suited them. The PMOS reminded people that the Prime Minister had said yesterday that the industry had a very small percentage of applications for a 24 hour license (1-2%), and those applications had not yet been granted yet.
Asked if the Prime Minister thought the Olympics would go to Paris, the PMOS said the Prime Minister was fully behind the London bid, and believed it was a very good bid. The PMOS refused to comment on alleged speculation.
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