» Wednesday, March 23, 2005

European Council meeting/UK Rebate

Asked if there was a Government response to President Chirac's comments about the British rebate, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that if anyone cared to type the words : President Chirac; rebate; a Summit into Google they would find that President Chirac had said similar things before at summits, but the British Government's position had not changed. If there had been a transcript of the proceedings from the European Council from the last 24 hours, it would show that it was not mentioned once, neither at dinner last night, nor at this morning's session.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)

Arms Embargo to China

Asked what the Government's position was on the arms embargo to China, the PMOS said we had always been supportive of the EU position, whilst at the same time recognising that the code that would replace the arms embargo (which was also applied to other countries such as Iran and Syria), would need to be strengthened. We had also, however, recognised that the EU itself was engaged in discussions with the United States and as Javier Solana's Spokesperson had said, those discussions were complex. The PMOS said those discussions should be allowed to take place, but there was nothing new in saying we were supportive of the EU position, whilst also waiting for the outcome of the discussions with the US.

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

Butler Report

Asked if in response to the WMS this morning, there would no more "sofa meetings" and meeting minutes would be taken from now on, as outlined in the Butler Report, the PMOS said we would implement the Butler recommendations, and we would do so, as we said at the time the Butler Report was published. Today's statement only confirmed what we had already said.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (4)

Butler Report

Asked if there was any comment on the Government's response to the Butler report the Prime Minister's Spokesman (PMS) said that journalists should look at the Foreign Secretary's Written Ministerial Statement. The Government had accepted all the recommendations from Lord Butler's report as the Prime Minister had said in his statement last July. The Foreign Secretary had said in November that he had asked Sir David Omand to take forward those recommendations. Today he was publishing how those recommendations had been taken forward. Asked if the report would explain how things were being taken forward the PMS said that journalists should look at the Written Ministerial Statement. We had set out last July that we had accepted the recommendations of Lord Butler and she did not think there would be any surprises in today's statement.

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

Defence Select Committee Report

Asked if the Government agreed with the Defence Select Committee report out tomorrow saying that troop levels in Iraq would have to stay at their current levels until at least next year and it's criticism of post conflict planning the PMS said that we had made it clear that our troop level would remain at its current level until the Iraqi security forces had the capacity to take over. That said we kept troop numbers under constant review. SHE said she had not seen the report and journalists should speak to the MOD about their response to it. In answer to further questions the PMS reiterated that we had always made it clear that troop levels were kept under constant review but the aim was to withdraw troops when it was felt that the Iraqi forces could cope with the situation and that security had improved.

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

Legislative Programme

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that he was breaking a manifesto commitment by publishing the draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill and whether this was now a priority, the PMS said the bill was an important piece of legislation. The most important thing was that people should look at the proposals being made. The Government was now bringing forward its proposals but it was not for her to get involved in manifesto commitments. Asked if there were any moves afoot with the opposition to ease the passage of the ID Cards Bill in the next few days the PMS said that no doubt discussions would take place through the usual channels about business in parliament but the Government was pressing ahead with it's legislative programme.

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

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