» Tuesday, January 18, 2005


The Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) briefed journalist on the latest tsunami victim numbers. The Category 1 figure was 299, which included 53 confirmed dead (down from 349 yesterday). The Category 2, possibly involved figure was 413 (down from 464 yesterday). The PMS reminded people that the FCO were updating their website everyday at 11am with the latest figures from the tsunami disaster last month.

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

G8 Sherpa announcement

The PMS said that Sir Michael Jay, Permanent Undersecretary at the FCO had been appointed by the Prime Minister as the Sherpa for the Presidency of the G8 Summit later in the year, and took on the role with immediate effect.

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

Abuse Allegations

Asked when the Government first learnt about new abuse allegations, the PMS referred the journalist to the MOD.

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

Court Martial

Asked for any information on what General Sir Mike Jackson might say in advance about the court martial in Osnabruk, the PMS said she believed that he would be making a statement, but it was better for people to wait for them at the statement. We did not normally make comments in the middle of a judicial process.

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


The Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that the Prime Minister was attending the unveiling of the new Airbus A380. He would speak during the ceremony and would say that Airbus demonstrated how we could achieve much more together in Europe than we ever could alone. "Working together in Europe means that we can compete with anybody in the world."

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

Licensing Laws

Asked about the number of people who attended hospital A & E departments due to excessive alcohol consumption and how this would be affected by a change in UK licensing laws, the PMS pointed out that these questions had been raised in the Daily Mail which had claimed that information on these issues was being suppressed by the Government. In fact the figures, which Professor Drummond had referred to, had been published in the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy paper in March last year. The figures could be found on page 36 of that paper. These figures had also been included in the Public Health White Paper, published in November by the Department of Health. The Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy paper had given a lot of information about problems that arose as a result of problem drinking. However the new proposals were not primarily about 24 hour drinking, but rather about greater flexibility in licensing laws. They included staggering closing times to reduce flash points, which the Police have found to be a problem. She reminded journalists that safeguards had also been introduced in the Bill. It was important to focus on these safeguards which included; extending Police powers to close down premises which were disorderly; making it easier for the Police and local residents to object to licences; and increased penalties for breaching licensing conditions. Questioned further about the message the Government was sending, the PMS said that as Tessa Jowell had stated previously, the Government only expected about 1% of public houses to apply for extensions to their existing licences. We were talking about flexibility so that people who might wish to go for a drink after an evening's entertainment could do so. At the same time the Government was well aware of the problems associated with drinking in some city centres. That was why there were safeguards included in the Bill which would prevent some of these problems, particularly through introducing extra measures to safeguard local residents if they had concerns.

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

Government Documents

Asked if documents circulated with in Government could be classified as "not received" even if they have been received as referred to in Robert Peston's biography of the Chancellor, the PMS said that her colleague had dealt with the biography last week and Downing Street still didn't give book reviews. Questioned further on the matter of classifying documents, she said she was not aware of such a practice.

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

John Birt

Asked about John Birt's continuing role at Downing Street, the PMS said that he was a part-time unpaid advisor to the Prime Minister who looked at a wide range of areas and issues from time to time as described by the media as "blue sky thinking". Questioned further about his contribution she said it was considered that Lord Birt had a valuable contribution to make through his wide experience.

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

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