» Thursday, March 3, 2005


Asked what had been discussed at Cabinet, the PMOS told journalists that Charles Clarke had updated Cabinet on the progress of the Anti Terror Bill. The Prime Minister re-iterated his view that it was a choice between on the one hand, being in a situation where the only power available to police was to monitor people with all the risks that involved or, on the other hand, having to prosecute them in a situation where it was not always possible to use intelligence to do so. Therefore both the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary re-iterated that the Bill struck the correct balance in what were, as everyone admitted, difficult circumstances.

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

Anti Terror Legislation

Asked if the Anti Terror Bill was a good example for this country to help promote democracy in the Middle East, the PMOS said that democracy depended on many things. Part of what it depended on was if there was intelligence that someone was trying to destroy democracy by killing thousands of people, then there was the ability to defend democracy. There was no easy way to strike that balance, but if in a very few exceptional cases, the only way to do so was through the powers that have been outlined that remained accountable to Parliament, which was the fount of democracy in this country, then the Government believed that was justified in such rare occasions. The alternative was to place the security forces and the police in a situation in which they would not be able to defend democracy, and if there was an atrocity where thousands of people were killed, the Government did not believe that the public would understand why we did not act.

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

Attorney General

Asked if the Attorney General had provided a formal opinion to the Government that the rest of the Bill was "ok" as far as the ECHR was concerned, and it was only those parts mentioned that needed derogation, the PMOS said the Bill was based on sound legal analysis, but as the journalist knew, we did not go into the detail of internal Governmental discussions.

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

School Uniform

Asked if the Government was going to clarify to schools about what children could wear, the PMOS said that was a matter for the DFES.

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

Cancelled Operations

Asked if the Margaret Dickson case should be dealt with on an individual basis, the PMOS said, as he had briefed yesterday, that it was the Government's view that it was wrong to elevate one case into a generalisation about the health service. In terms of the cancellation of operation, he repeated that the percentage of cancelled operations as a proportion of the overall number of operations carried out by the health service each year had not varied much. It went from 1.2% in 1996/7 to the same figure in 2003/4, with an increase to 1.5%. There was then action taken to reduce the figure. What had happened was that there was 450,000 more operations per year then there were in 1997. Therefore, in terms of numbers, it was inevitable that there would be more cancelled operations. As a proportion, however, it remained the same.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (3)


Asked if the Prime Minister was still meeting Bertie Ahern today, the PMOS confirmed that he was. It would be a chance to update for the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach to update each other on where things were at the moment.

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

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