» Monday, March 14, 2005

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.

Asked how long the appointment had been under discussion for, the PMOS said that Mr. Boateng had made it clear that he did not want to be reappointed, and that he saw with the Commission for Africa report completion, a role for himself in trying to take forward the goals of the Africa Commission report. Therefore, this was to be the right post to do that.

Asked if it was Mr. Boateng’s suggestion, the PMOS said it was a happy coincidence of interest and opportunity.

Asked if the appointment had been the Prime Minister’s initiative, the PMOS said, as always, it was the Prime Minister’s initiative, but Mr. Boateng was happy that this opportunity had come up, given the interest he had had over the years in Africa. The PMOS said Mr. Boateng had worked with leaders in Africa, and with the completion of the Commission for Africa report, there was a clear agenda now for delivery in Africa, and Mr. Boateng in this role can help deliver those goals.

Asked what the status was for negotiations for Baroness Amos’ UN job, the PMOS said she was a candidate, but discussions were continuing.

Asked if Mr. Boateng’s appointment was standing in the way of a career diplomat, the PMOS said: no. There was a long succession of precedents for such appointments: Sir Christopher Soames in Paris in 1968, Lord Richard in New York in 1974, Peter Jay in Washington in 1977, Sir Nicolas Henderson in Washington in 1979, Sir Oliver Wright in Washington in 1982, Chris Patten in Hong Kong in 1992, Lord Waddington in Bermuda in 1992, Sir Alastair Goodlad in Canberra in 1999. The PMOS said it was a question of getting the right person for the right job at the right time.

Asked why Paul Boateng was the right person, the PMOS replied he had a lot of experience in Africa, and as part of the Africa Commission, he was up to speed in terms of not only the thinking of African leaders, but also the goals that were now set for the international community to deliver. He could help do that in this post.

Asked what Mr. Boateng’s main achievements were, the PMOS said that what he had achieved in his time of Government was: the McPherson Report and the significant reforms to prisons; the Children’s Green Paper, "Every Child Matters", the carers strategy; two spending reviews; a new relationship with the voluntary sector; and also promoting the International Finance Facility and the Commission for Africa Report.

Asked if Paul Boateng had to resign from his current seat without knowing whether he would be going to a new job, or not, the PMOS replied that was the decision Mr. Boateng had taken.

Asked if it was denied that it was "crony-ism and jobs for the boys", the PMOS said that anyone who looked at Paul Boateng’s experience, and the relationships he had developed with African leaders, and his work on the Africa Commission would know that this was a person who not only had an interest, but also the experience and the right track record to fulfil the role.

Asked if it was unusual for a Minister to make such a move on his way up, as opposed to on his way out, the PMOS said that this was a question of someone deciding that this was the job he wanted to do at this stage in his career. It was good that someone with his experience was available for the job.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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