» Monday, March 7, 2005


Asked about the defence report on the Hercules crash, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that as he understood it, the report ruled out certain causes that had been suggested. There were still a lot of other factors that had to be looked at before a final report could be produced. We weren't at the stage were we could definitively say what had caused the crash.

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

Arctic Convoy

Asked if the Prime Minister was meeting veterans from the Artic convoy, the PMOS confirmed that he was. Asked if they would be receiving a separate campaign medal, the PMOS said that discussions were going on with the veterans and their representatives at this very moment. It would be wrong to pre-empt those discussions. People could take it though that there would be recognition of their achievements. Questioned as to how much progress would be made by this evening, the PMOS said that people would see that we had made progress, we had taken the issue seriously and had recognised the unique contribution of the Arctic Convoy

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

Roger Liddle

Asked about Roger Liddle's comments on the European constitution, the PMOS said that Roger Liddle was entitled to his own personal view. It was the Prime Minister's prerogative to listen to advice and and to make his own decisions. Roger Liddle no longer worked for Downing Street. Therefore you couldn't say that Roger Liddle's view reflected those of Downing Street.

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

Al Qaeda/Terror Legislation

Asked how many Al Qaeda trained operatives did the Prime Minister believed were "at large" in the UK, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told the journalists what the Prime Minister had said both last week during an interview, and the week before during PMQs. The Prime Minister had said that there were several hundred people who were of concern to the police because of suspicions about terrorist intent. That remained the position, and therefore, what Sir John Stevens had said did not come as any surprise. The PMOS said it was a subject that was not just of concern here, but also throughout Europe and the rest of the world, and this was why there would be a representative at the conference on Terrorism in Madrid this week. What this underlined was that the threat from Al Qaeda and from other terrorist groups was very real, and therefore the precautions that had to be taken against those threats had to match the nature and extent of the threat.

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

Five Year Plan

Asked to clarify what a Five Year Plan was, and were they backed by documents, the PMOS said that if the journalist examined various departments' Five Year Plans, he would see the depth of the plan. The PMOS explained that it was work that was developing an overall strategy for five years within a department, and setting that out. It had been set out to Parliament, and the statement to Parliament was what the plan contained. It was a clear vision of each subject matter of the Government's approach.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (4)

Italian Ransom

Asked what the Prime Minister's view was about the Italians paying large ransoms for the release of hostages, the PMOS said it was a matter for the Italian Government. The British Government's policy was clear.

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

Northern Ireland

Asked what the Prime Minister's view was regarding the issue of criminality, especially with a view to the response to the McCartney family in Northern Ireland, the PMOS said that what had been said at the weekend by a variety of speakers at the Ard Fheis on the subjects of the McCartney murder, criminality in general, punishments beatings and policing, showed that Sinn Fein had begun to address the issues that were of concern to not only the British, Irish and US Governments, but also to the people in Northern and Southern Ireland. No doubt that would be explored with further contacts with Sinn Fein. The PMOS said the bottom line remained the same: there could only be progress with Sinn Fein and the Republicans if there was a complete end to activity. At least the Ard Fheis meeting showed that there was a process of beginning to address those issues. The McCartney family had said that they were encouraged by Gerry Adams's comments, but wanted to see progress on the ground. The PMOS said as always, the family had shown real leadership in terms of trying to get this issue resolved.

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

Trevor Phillips/Education

Asked what the Prime Minister thought about Trevor Phillips' comments regarding the performance of black children in school, the PMOS replied that what was important was to take note of the figures. The figures had shown some progress, but it had been recognised that there was still an issue of under performance. There had been some progress made in recent years, but we wanted to see that continue. The PMOS said that the proportion of Black Caribbean/Black African/Other pupils achieving five or more A* - C Grades at GCSE grade had improved by more than 2.5% against the average improvement of 1.2%. Obviously, there was a lot more to do, but there was some progress being made.

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


Asked how worried the Prime Minister was about the MRSA problem, even though there had been a "tiny reduction" in the latest set of figures, the PMOS said people should focus on what the figures showed. They showed that there was a turnaround, which was important in the overall trend. It suggested that what was being done was beginning to work. There were two new initiatives started today to help that trend continue which were a new rapid swab technique, and the confirmation from the HPA that they would publish figures every six months to help people keep track. This was an issue, as the Prime Minister had said, that no-one underestimated, but equally, people should recognise two things. Firstly, it had been a problem that had been in gestation for a long time, but secondly, we were beginning to take the measures that were needed to address it.

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

Roger Liddle re Europe

Asked what the Prime Minister thought about Roger Liddle's remarks about Europe, the PMOS replied that Mr Liddle no longer worked in Downing Street.

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

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