» Monday, March 14, 2005

Paul Boateng

Asked who approached whom on the Paul Boateng appointment and whether Paul Boateng had approached the Prime Minister to seek a post after political life, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said, as he had described it this morning, it was a happy coincidence of interest and opportunity. The Prime Minister as always made these appointments, but people should recognise that Paul Boateng had long held an interest in and had experience in African issues which had been boosted by his experience of working with the Commission for Africa. Therefore given the timing this would be a significant post to help try to promote and realise the goals as set out in the Commission for Africa report. As such he was the right man in the right place at the right time. Asked what evidence there was of his long history working on African issues the PMOS said that he had, going through the years, known a lot of the players and shown an interest in the subject, not only in his Government role but in other roles as well. Asked when he last went to Africa the PMOS said that he did not know but was sure that Paul Boateng's Office would be happy to tell them.

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


Asked if the Prime Minister and Chancellor would be meeting face to face over the next few days the PMOS said that, as you would expect, the usual communications had and would take place.

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

Paul Boateng

Asked if there was an exchange of letters from Paul Boateng to the Prime Minister regarding his appointment, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said the Foreign Office would be publishing an exchange.

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

Nottinghamshire Police

Asked what the Prime Minister's view was about the Chief Constable of the Nottinghamshire police saying they couldn't police properly because of Government policy, the PMOS replied that everyone recognised that there were problems in Nottinghamshire, and there were different views about the causes of those problems. The facts were: that the Police Standards Unit had been working with the police force there because of concerns about performance; and overall, crime was turning round in the area. The other facts were that Nottinghamshire had seen an increase of 4.08% in its grant, which was well above the minimum increase granted to all police authorities; that there were particular problems such as drugs or gun crime to be dealt with, extra resources from the Street Crime Initiative and the Gun Crime Initiative had been directed to the police service there; and on police numbers, the total numbers were 200 more police than in 1997, and 267 more support staff than in 1997. In terms of resources, therefore, Nottinghamshire had received significant support.

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

Terrorists’ release

Asked what the Government thought of the way the terrorists had been released under the control orders had been carried out, the PMOS replied that inevitably, given the lateness of getting the process through, it did cause some problems. However, those problems had been sorted out, and in terms of the reality, the control orders had taken effect. That was the important thing.

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

Alzheimer Drugs/NICE

Asked if the Prime Minister agreed with Stephen Ladyman that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) should look again at the decision on Alzheimer drugs, the PMOS replied that it was important to get the facts straight. NICE launched a consultation on the guidance two weeks ago, and that consultation period ended later this month. Everyone was entitled to put in views, and as part of that, the Department of Health asked NICE if the wider social implications of not approving the drugs use had been fully taken into account. It was a matter for NICE to reach its own decision, and not Government ministers, and that was what was happening. It was the right thing to do to ask NICE to take into account the benefits to carers, as well as patients of these drugs.

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


Asked for any comment to the BMA criticisms this morning that Government policies were causing problems in A&E, the PMOS said the important thing was to recognise what Sir George Alberti of the National Centre for Emergency Care had said. Sir George Alberti said that for forty to fifty years, there had not been any targets, and there had been no improvement in the A&E services in that time. However, since there had been targets, there had been improvements, and he spoke as someone who was, as he said himself, against targets. The PMOS said that Dr. Jonathan Fielden who was chairman of the BMA's GP Committee said that there had been "substantial improvement" in A&E services. The PMOS said that was backed up by the National Audit Office, patient surveys conducted by the Health Care Commission and by others, including Martin Shalley who was President of the British Association of Accident and Emergency Medicine. In terms of targets, the PMOS said that of course, in some cases it was not appropriate, and that was why we had lowered the target from 100% of cases to 98% of cases after John Reid became Secretary of State to allow that degree of flexibility. Targets have resulted in real improvements in A&E, but they were a means to an end, and not an end in themselves. We needed to keep that operation under constant review, but in terms of overall targets, the Government would not apologise for their introduction at all, as they had resulted in real improvements.

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

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