Fathers for Justice
Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned about security after a campaigner dressed as Batman climbed a wall overlooking Downing Street earlier today, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said it was entirely a matter for the Police.
Questioned as to why the Home Secretary seemed to be making further concessions on the proposed counter-terrorism legislation, the PMOS said he did not recognise the word concessions. In terms of the substance of the proposals, in extreme cases, where the Security Services or the Police deemed someone to be such an extreme threat that they needed to restrict that person's liberty in a considerable way then the key question was that we were able to act quickly. Concerns had been raised about the speed of judicial input into that process with regards to the most severe end of the control orders where it might be necessary to restricts someone's liberty to such an extent that it would mean derogating from the ECHR. The Government had listened to those concerns and had now come up with a method which allowed us to achieve the end we wanted, allowing the possibility of detaining someone, whilst at the same time immediately getting the judicial process underway. It was the best way forward. The important thing however was that the substance had not changed. The substance being that if we had intelligence that someone was a threat to national security then we could act on that intelligence immediately.
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the details of the meeting on Palestine tomorrow. He said that this meeting would be one of the largest international gatherings on the Middle East for some time, with a total of 23 states and 6 international organizations being represented. The PMOS listed the countries sending Foreign Ministers which included: Algeria, Bahrain, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordon, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Russian Federation, Spain, Tunisia, UAE, and the United States. The cast list would include Kofi Annan, Javier Solana, Condi Rice, the Heads of the World Bank and IMF, and showed the high level of delegation attending.
Put to him that the Prime Minister had signalled possible "compromises" on Friday, and was it now correct that today was not seen by the Government as a day to alter its proposals, but rather to explain them further, the PMOS said that what was important was, first, to set out why we believed we needed these range of measures to protect this country. Second, why the Home Secretary had such an important role. But, thirdly, it was also vital that we acted speedily if the circumstances required. The PMOS said he did not want to pre-empt what the Home Secretary had to say this afternoon in the House of Commons.
Asked about the implications of and the Government's attitude's to the demonstration yesterday in Belfast, the PMOS said that we had always believed that anyone who carried out a murder should be brought to justice. That was a very simple demand from the family, but the PMOS thought that demand was put forward more eloquently by the family. All we would say was that those responsible for the murder of Mr. McCartney should be brought to justice, and we supported the family in that.
Asked if the PMOS could "shed any light" on a debate amongst Cabinet colleagues about John Reid's smoking in public places proposals, the PMOS said he was not aware of any debate on the matter.
Prime Minister’s Press Conference
[This is the transcript of one of the Prime Minister's occasional press conferences; these are the words of the Prime Minister giving a statement and answering the questions of journalists. Unlike the PMOS's briefings, this is a more-or-less verbatim transcript of the Prime Minister's words. Such press conferences happen about once a month, and occasionally more often.]
Press Conference/Minimum Wage announcement
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) informed journalists that the Prime Minister, along with Patricia Hewitt and Adair Turner of the Low Pay Commission, would announce the Government's response to the Commissioner's proposal on the National Minimum Wage at his press conference tomorrow morning. Simultaneously, in Edinburgh, Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling would do the same, and Peter Hain would make a speech in Cardiff at the same time. In Belfast, John Spellar would do the same.
Asked in light of the Met Commissioner's remarks about the Madrid bomb, if Ministers had been given warning about the dangers of an attack before or during an election, the PMOS said he had been asked a similar question yesterday, in light of the Home Secretary's comments. The PMOS said that Ministers would always take the opportunity to state what was a fact, which in this instance was international terrorism was unfortunately a reality, and we did need therefore to remain constantly vigilant. We also needed to equip ourselves with the measures necessary to counter that threat. For example the Government's proposals on control orders. If there was a specific threat which the public needed to know about, then we would inform the public of that, and that had always been the position.
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