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.]
Asked if the Prime Minister expected compensation to be paid to the family of the Brazilian man shot on Friday, the PMOS replied that it was a matter for further consideration and for the relevant authorities.
Prime Minister’s meetings
Asked if during the meetings with the EU Ministers this week, they would discuss anything other that terrorism, the PMOS said it was a welcome fact that the meetings gave us the opportunity to talk about our EU Presidency goal, and how we moved forward the debate, given that we had already announced the informal summit.
Edward Heath Funeral
Asked if the Prime Minister was attending Edward Heath's funeral, the PMOS said he was not able to attend the funeral because of a pre-arranged lunch with the Prime Minister of France, but he would be attending the memorial service.
Asked if there were any changes to the Prime Minister's holiday, and also to Charles Clarke's holiday, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said the Prime Minister was here this week, and the Home Secretary had made his decision and it had been announced.
London explosions / legislation
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) gave journalists a rundown of events as they stood at the time regarding the bombing in London earlier today. He apologised in advance because like the Prime Minister, he was not going to get into operational details, as we would always be one step behind, and it would confuse matters. The Prime Minister was in his office with the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard when he was first informed of the explosions. He received as full an update at that point as was possible, and then went onto his lunch with Mr. Howard where he was updated regularly throughout, coming out at least once for further information. The Prime Minister then attended a COBRA meeting at 1430 where the Home Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Transport Secretary and the Health Secretary were also all present, as well as Sir Ian Blair from the Met Police. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes. The Prime Minister then prepared for his press conference and also had a further conversation with Sir Ian Blair, who at that stage again told the Prime Minister that they were trying to reopen the stations as quickly as possible, and that he would be saying to people to go about their normal business.
Ministerial Gifts and Travel
Asked about whether the Prime Minister could use gifts held by the Prime Minister's Office, and whether he paid the full amount or the difference between the value and the allowance, the PMOS said that the normal rules applied. For detail on the rules journalists should speak to the Cabinet Office. Asked if the Government had found a use for the dagger given to him by the Government of Malaysia, the PMOS said it was for journalists to speculate on the gifts. Asked why some items had been valued and others simply catalogued as being 'over the limit', the PMOS said that the gifts were normally valued by an independent valuation or against their retail prices whichever was most appropriate. Some of the gifts were hard to value. Some gifts were disposed of and the money would either be donated to charity or covered by departmental funds.
Asked about criticism of changes to guidelines for Special Advisors, the PMOS said that the Cabinet Office had already dealt with that. They had pointed out that it had been in the Gazette on July 5th and that we had told Sir Alistair Graham that we were going to publish. There was no suggestion of it being sneaked out. Asked about the increase in power of Special Advisors, the PMOS said that this was in line with recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life. This was a case of the Government responding properly to the House of Commons committee.
Australian PM Meeting
Asked what would be on the agenda this afternoon, the PMOS said that he imagined they would discuss Iraq given the presence of Australian troops there. No doubt they would also have a discussion of the outcome of the G8 and also other world issues. The Prime Minister met John Howard on a fairly regular basis.
Law Enforcement Agencies Meeting
The PMOS told journalists that he could not give the entire cast list for obvious reasons but the following would be present at the Law Enforcement Agencies meeting this afternoon: the Prime Minister; the Home Secretary; the Metropolitan Police Commissioner; an ACPO representative; the Attorney General; the Lord Chancellor; the Foreign Secretary; the Secretary of State for Transport; the Chief Secretary and Hazel Blears. He doubted that we would be saying anything very much afterwards. However this would form an important part of the preparations for next Tuesday's meeting with the leaders of the oppositions.
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