» Thursday, March 10, 2005

Anti Terror Legislation

Asked what the Government thought of the Sunset Clause lasting a year, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists what the Prime Minister had said this morning was the key: that whether advice was from the police and the security services was listened to. The strong advice was there should be no uncertainty surrounding the position. Uncertainty bred instability. Therefore it was not helpful. That applied in terms of the Sunset Clause and also in terms of the burden of proof. The position set out by the Prime Minister remained the same: he believed that a Sunset Clause of any kind would be a mistake because it would put a pall of uncertainty over the future of the legislation. That in turn, whether it was the intention of those who proposed the Sunset Clause or not, would be interpreted as weakness by terrorists, and would prolong uncertainty for the security services and the police. That was not in the interests of national security.

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

ISC Report

Asked if people were "seriously expected to believe" that in the light of the ISC report this morning, the police and the security services were worried about the distinction between an annual review and a Sunset Clause when agents of MI6 who were sent to interview people in a prisoner of war camp did not know the Geneva Convention, and did it not "beggar belief" that they did not know the law regarding international conflict, the PMOS said that what they were concerned about was whether the legislation that they had come to rely on was actually going to be pulled. The PMOS said that was a much bigger distinction between a Sunset Clause and a review.

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

Anti Terror Legislation

Asked if control orders or any of the orders under the proposed legislation could be used against members of the Provisional IRA the PMOS said, as he had yesterday, that the Law Lords decision stated that it was wrong to discriminate between domestic and foreign nationals in terms of such legislation. He would not get drawn into hypotheticals in terms of whom it could apply to, but the reality was that it could apply to foreign and domestic nationals.

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

Northern Ireland

Asked why the Government was taking away Sinn Fein's allowances but not their offices at Westminster the PMOS said that Peter Hain would set out the position in the House. Again there was a balance to be struck here, on the one hand expressing extreme disapproval, as the Prime Minister had done in parliament yesterday and as he had repeatedly done including with the Irish Prime Minister and on the other hand not giving Sinn Fein the excuse that in some way you were denying them their electoral mandate. That was the balance that we had to strike. It was this Government and the Irish Governments view that nothing should be done to divert attention from the central issue of whether the IRA was going to stop activity or not. Of course it was right and proper that we had debates on these issues but nothing should divert away from that central issue and nothing should divert away from the position taken by the McCartney family, which was their demand for justice. They would speak for themselves and they must be allowed to do so.

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

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