» Thursday, January 27, 2005

Iraq Troops

Asked to explain the discrepancy between what the Prime Minister had said last week about not increasing the numbers of British Forces in Iraq and the announcement by MOD today, the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that the Prime Minister had been talking about any increase in the overall contingent. The MOD announcement today had that an extra 600 troops would be deployed to replace Dutch troops. The majority of those troops were already in Iraq. There would be an additional 220 soldiers sent to Iraq, but that figure would soon be reduced to 150. By the end of February, we expected to reduce the numbers of troops in Iraq by 350, therefore there would be a net reduction of 200 by the end of next month. The troops being sent in to replace the Dutch were not combat troops, but were for example, engineers and cooks.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

Gerry Adams Meeting

Asked why the meeting with Gerry Adams had been moved from today to tomorrow, why it was being held at Chequers, and finally, what the tone would be, the PMS said that we had set out the series of meetings the Prime Minister planned to have with the leaders of the individual parties earlier in the week. Having looked at the Prime Minister's engagements over the last day or two, it was decided to hold the meeting at Chequers tomorrow instead of today. The Prime Minister wanted to pass on the message to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, who would attend the meeting, that people should refrain from criminal activity if any peace process was to continue.

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

Anti Terror Laws

Asked if there were any reservations expressed over the introduction of the anti terror laws at Cabinet today, the PMS said that as she had explained earlier, we did not go into the details of Cabinet discussions. There had been an update from the Home Secretary on what he had said in the House of Commons yesterday. As he had explained yesterday, he would be bringing forward further measures.

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

Anti-Terror Plans

Put to her that the Prime Minister had said earlier that "the new laws would not apply to anything more than a handful of people" and how he was in a position to say that, the PMS said people had to look at the previous legislation which applied to a total of seventeen people. This was a clearly a difficult issue and there would be a lot of discussion about it, not only in Government, but also within the country over the next few weeks. Charles Clarke had pointed out this morning that we had to look at not only the very important issues of civil liberties, but we had to balance that against the need to protect national security.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

Cabinet Hours

Asked if there had been a decision to move Cabinet forward in the wake of yesterday's voting hours change, the PMS said there had been no discussion of that during today's meeting.

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

Gerry Adams Meeting

Asked what the Prime Minister would be telling Gerry Adams at their meeting tomorrow, and if he would be reading Mr. Adams the "riot act", the PMS said there was a strong message to deliver, and the Prime Minister wanted to deliver that message in person.

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

» 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)

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