Asked what the Prime Minister had meant when he had said earlier that he knew Mr. Blunkett was "looking into" the share allegations, and also, should people infer that Mr. Blunkett would sell the shares today, the PMOS said that Mr. Blunkett would be making his position clear about the shares later on today.
Asked whom the Prime Minister had consulted on the David Blunkett DNA bioscience breach of Ministerial Code, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) that, as they knew he did not go into the processology of whom the Prime Minister talked to on such matters. David Blunkett had set out how the confusion arose. He had set it right. This was where we were. Asked how he had set it right, the PMOS said that he had consulted his permanent secretary on 15 May and he had also discussed with the relevant people what to do. He had set out in his statement how the confusion had arisen following Lord Mayhew's letter and he had explained why he had acted in the way he had. The matter was being handled by the department, as it should be. Asked what Lord Mayhew said in his letter, the PMOS said that Lord Mayhew had set out in the earlier correspondence that it was a voluntary code and David Blunkett's interpretation of that was what he had explained. Asked then if the Prime Minister felt no obligation to the code and therefore what kind of code was it if it was one without any teeth, the PMOS the Prime Minister's words in the introduction of the Ministerial Code spoke for themselves. The Prime Minister obviously believed that people should abide by the code. People should obviously abide by the code. This event had arisen in a period not only when David Blunkett was not a Minister but also in the period after the prorogation of Parliament as he had explained.
Asked whether the Prime Minister feared that any replacement for Trident might counter our commitments under the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, the PMOS said there was a review going on regarding the issue, and he was not going to get ahead of it.
G8 Climate Change Conference
Asked what the Prime Minister hoped to accomplish, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had set some of his objectives out in his Observer article yesterday. His goal was a consensus about how we moved beyond Kyoto. How we involved not just the US, but India and China also, in agreeing how to develop sustainable energy supplies. That was the key objective. We made a lot of progress in Gleneagles where we brought in India, China and developing countries. It was about turning that progress from a concept into a reality and about exchanging energy technology.
Put to the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) that the Prime Minister had said that he would be consulting allies regarding Iran, and was there anything further to be added, the PMOS said that first of all, we regarded Kofi Annan's statement as very useful in this regard. The PMOS said it was a mistake to see this as the UK versus Iran; it was simply not like that. The EU statement yesterday was completely unanimous and it was a very strong statement from the EU. That was backed up by comments from President Chirac, amongst others, at Hampton Court, and we then had the Kofi Annan statement. There were ongoing discussions at the UN about what the next step should be, so what was important was that we allowed those discussions to take place, before taking a lead from there. The PMOS said that the world community had said that the comments were unacceptable.
Asked what the latest on "burglar bashing" was, the PMOS said he thought the journalist was asking about the use of reasonable force against intruders, which was a more bureaucratic way of putting it! The PMOS said our position had not changed.
Transcript of press briefing given by Tom Kelly in Strasbourg
Asked if the bill on smoking would definitely be published tomorrow, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said he had no information to suggest otherwise. Asked why the Government couldn't just stick to the policy they had announced during the election, the PMOS said that there had been a consultation exercise which we had a to take into account of when we made an announcement. Asked if the bill might be published without detailed issues being resolved within the Cabinet, the PMOS said that he didn't want to get into talking about announcements before they have been made, but we should be clear that smoking was a genuinely difficult issue which people came at from different perspectives. There were practical issues which had to be resolved. Would ongoing work be necessary to finally resolve and pin down practical issues? He suspected the answer to that was yes. But would there be a clear direction in which we were going? The answer to that was also yes.
Asked what the current position was on the Smoking Bill, and if it would be published tomorrow, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said the position was the same as it was this morning and yesterday afternoon, and there was no reason to believe that the original timetable had changed.
Asked if the row between George Galloway and the Senate committee might damage the special relationship, the PMOS said that there were some issues which one learned to stay out of. This was top of that list.
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