Asked about the Prime Minister's meeting with the Taoiseach, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that they had held a press conference after the meeting and what they said then had pretty much covered it. They had said that this had been a chance to review where we were. At this time of year obviously they took in issues such as the marching season and they hoped for a peaceful marching season. The primary focus at the minute was on the possibility of an IRA statement, which would hopefully emerge soon.
Asked about the need for biometric ID cards in the light of a comment by a US senator questioning whether the technology could deliver what thte UK said, the PMOS said that in terms of the technology for ID cards, that technology was developing all the time. It was unfair to judge our approach to the technology even before we had completed the procurement process. It was proper was that we took this step-by-step. It was the considered judgement of the experts in the Home Office and elsewhere that we needed to bring ourselves into line with international practice. Asked how many countries actually were introducing biometric technology the PMOS said that the list was quite extensive. For instance in the EU there was Spain, Belgium and Italy among others in various stages of development. It was developing quickly and as the technology developed, alongside the increasing awareness of the problem of identity fraud we believe that more countries will demand biometric testing. Put to him that the Prime Minister had said this morning in his monthly press conference that we wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for passports and the technology and asked where therefore terrorism and identity theft came in, the PMOS said that the point the Prime Minister was making was that because of the development of passport technology anyway the additional ID element was only £30.
Asked about Carol Caplin's suggestion that the Prime Minister was overweight and drunk too much, the PMOS said that journalists had missed the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister directly about that this morning. He would not make any comment.
Prime Minister’s Press Conference
[This is the transcript of one of the Prime Minister's occasional press conferences; these are the words of the Prime Minister giving a statement and answering the questions of journalists. Unlike the PMOS's briefings, this is a more-or-less verbatim transcript of the Prime Minister's words. Such press conferences happen about once a month, and occasionally more often.]
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