» Monday, January 17, 2005

David Blunkett’s living arrangements/security

Asked if there was any further information about David Blunkett's living and security arrangements, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied he could only say what he had told journalists in the morning lobby. People should understand that once one had been Home Secretary, there were certain limitations to what could be said.

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

Intercepted evidence

Asked if the Government had a view about the admissibility of intercepted evidence being used, for example, phone bugging, the PMOS said this was an issue that was being looked at, but he was not aware that the process had reached completion.

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

Northern Ireland update

Asked for an update on Northern Ireland, the PMOS said there was nothing to comment on at the moment. He added that Taoiseach was in China at the moment, and the Prime Minister would speak to him when he returned. Paul Murphy and Dermot Ahern were meeting in Dublin today.

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

EU Emissions

Asked about the Prime Minister's role with the EU Directive concerning environmental emissions, the PMOS said there was a cost benefit analysis of the European approach being done by the Commission. That work was still ongoing, and what the Government had decided was until there were results from the cost benefit analysis, there was no real point setting targets, as it would be difficult to know whether they were achievable and what their impact on the European economy or what their impact would be. The message from it was to wait until there was enough evidence before making recommendations.

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

24 Hour licenses

Asked if the voluntary levy on drinking tariffs was "as far as it would go", the PMOS said there were discussions happening between the police, Home Office, DCMS and the industry at the moment. He did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the discussions. He emphasised that there were measures contained within the Act that tackled binge drinking. These included expanding police powers to close down disorderly and excessively noisy premises, making it easier for police, residents and others to seek a review of licenses, increased fines, increased penalties for breach of license conditions, and giving local residents a real voice in licensing decisions such as have not been available before. This was about not only flexibility, but also about targeting binge drinking, and as Tessa Jowell had said this morning, the number of people who had applied for a 24-hour license was practically none.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Tsunami Statistics

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the latest Tsunami casualty figures. He said that the number of confirmed dead now was 52 not 51. 349 people were presumed to be victims of the Tsunami. That figure included the 52 confirmed dead and was down from the figure of 400 given last Friday. There were 464 British people still unaccounted for in the region, down from 568 on Friday. Asked how those statistics were likely to change, the PMOS said that the trend was going down but we had to judge it day by day. Asked what had caused these statistics to change, the PMOS said that it tended to be the pattern with all disasters. With the Paddington Rail disaster for instance there were still people unaccounted for even at this stage.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (14)

Civil Service Bureacracy

Asked about the claim by the Conservative Party that there were 180,000 bureaucrats in the NHS and asked if they were all necessary, the PMOS said that he would not comment on what the Opposition said. However the Government had previously announced the outcome of the Gershon review which recommended a reduction of 84,000 public administration civil service posts by 2007/8, 13,500 of which would be redeployed to the front line. In terms of front line increases then yes there were 77,500 more nurses as well as 19,000 more doctors. The Government clearly believed that those numbers were needed and had led to an improvement in the Health Service. Asked about bureaucratic jobs in particular, the PMOS said that as always in these matters it depended on what you termed a bureaucrat. By some accounting mechanisms cleaning staff could be counted as bureaucrats. Clearly they weren't and were essential to the working of an efficient and effective health service. The Civil Service was still nearly 17,000 lower than it was 10 years ago, so the perception that there was an increase in the size of civil service was not born out by the facts.

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

Prime Minister’s House

Put to him that the questions over the house purchased by the Prime Minister now fell into the realm of public interest, the PMOS said no. The Blairs were entitled to manage their family finances in the same way as any other family and with the same degree of privacy.

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

David Blunkett’s House

Asked if it was true that David Blunkett would continue to live in the Home Secretary's official residence until after the election, the PMOS told journalists that Home Secretaries had certain security arrangements which were specific to the role they played. For that reason he hoped that journalists would understand if he didn't comment further. It had been the case that past Home Secretaries continued to have specific security arrangements. It was not just a matter of easily moving somewhere else.

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

Chancellor of the Exchequer/Euro

Asked if the Prime Minister continued to deny that he would have considered stepping down if the Chancellor had been more positive about the Euro, the PMOS said yes.

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

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