» Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Incapacity Benefit

Asked for further information about the article in the Financial Times regarding incapacity benefit, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) repeated what the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman had said earlier that it was inaccurate. She said that the Government would set out a Five Year Plan for the DWP shortly.

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

MG Rover

Asked about an article in today's Times that said the Government was going to offer "sweeteners" to Shanghai Automobile Operation to allow them to help MG Rover, the PMS said the journalist should speak to the DTI for further information.

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

Iraq Handover

Asked about the Prime Minister's comments about the handover of control after the Iraqi General Election, and the withdrawal of troops from various areas, the PMS said the Prime Minister was setting out a timeline, rather than a timescale. Once the elections were over, the plan was for our troops to leave the country once the job had been completed. We were there for as long as the Iraqis would like us to be. Once the election was over at the weekend, we could then look forward to making a plan for the troops to leave Iraq. We were not setting a timetable, rather indicating a general plan. The PMS said that yesterday Prime Minister Allawi had also set out his views about what would happen, with the aim being that troops would withdraw when considered appropriate.

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


Asked about behind the scenes discussion of the European question, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the question was fairly straight forward and was arrived at in a straight forward manner. Asked to clarify, the PMOS said that it had been arrived at without too much discussion.

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


Put to him that the issues surrounding the legal status of the detainees at Belmarsh prison could be characterised as a 'muddle', the PMOS said that the statement would be an attempt to recognise, on one hand, the serious concerns there were about security. These concerns had been recognised by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Court of Appeal, both of whom had upheld the Home Secretary's conclusion that there was a public emergency threatening the security of the nation and the lives of UK citizens. On the other hand we had to balance those concerns with the need to meet our international obligations and meet the concerns of the House of Lords. While it was clear from events around the world and from intelligence that the threat remained serious, it was important to balance the legal concerns and that was what Charles Clarke would try to do. Asked if we could not just exempt these measures from the Human Rights Act, the PMOS said that we did have to take cogniscence of legal concerns and international concerns. That was what set democratic nations apart from undemocratic ones.

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

Incapacity Benefit/New Deal

Asked to comment on the article in the Financial Times about incapacity benefit, the PMOS said that as he had said yesterday the best thing was for people to wait for the five-year welfare plan which would be published shortly. Without pre-empting that, it was also worth drawing attention to what the Government had already done in this area. For example the New Deal had helped over 1 million people into work. The New Deal for disabled people had helped 45,000 people into work. The New Deal for lone parents had helped 276,000 people into work. These initiatives had helped many people make the transition into work. There had also been pilot schemes on pathways to work, helping sick and disabled people back into work, and the five year plan would build on those schemes. The Government was not starting from scratch and had already achieved a lot in this are, but the five-year plan would take us further. He would not comment on the article in the FT other than to say that it was inaccurate.

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

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